88,000 People Impacted By DHS Budget Crisis

Monday, March 28th 2016, 6:49 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced changes to the budget after revenue failure that will impact more than 88,000 people.

It started with employee cuts. About 1,200 people were laid off from DHS, but that wasn’t enough. Now, DHS is having to postpone all State Supplemental Payments.

Mark Beutler, Communications Manager at ODHS, says this will mostly impact elderly, disabled and blind people. Normally, they get paid once a month on SSP, but now the current payments are being suspended until July. And starting on July 1, the payments will switch from monthly to quarterly.

Beutler says the average person receives $36 per month. Instead, they will be receiving about $110 dollars every quarter.

“I want to reassure everyone that they will get their payments. We’re not stopping them. We’re suspending them,” said Beutler.

While it’s hard to make this change, Beutler says it’s something that needs to be done to finish off the fiscal year.

Kathryn Kazar is a 71-year-old Oklahoma City resident. She says she receives $527 per month through SSP and this is going to change her life drastically. She received a letter in the mail from DHS on Friday, just a week before she was supposed to get paid.

With short notice, Kazar won’t have enough money to pay her bills this month.

“I understand that it’s a budget shortfall, but they could have given most of us a little more time,” said Kazar.

Beutler confirms they only found out about the changes in the past month and that they are trying to minimize the impact on residents.

Kazar says she doesn’t know what she is going to do in the next three months. She is disabled in a wheelchair, can’t drive, and is unable to work.

“I’m at a loss,” she said.