Lack of funds delays service to disabled Oklahomans

Thursday, February 28th 2008, 7:11 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

A shortage of funds is forcing a state agency to place more than 1,000 people with disabilities on a waiting list for help.

The call for a delay was the last resort, officials said. The only way to continue helping the 13,000 people who are disabled in the program is to place new cases on hold for now.

"Turning people away with disabilities who need help to go to work is heartbreaking," said Jody Harlan with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

The State Department of Rehabilitation and  Vocation Services officials said  they had to delay services to new applicants. Jerry Wood barley made the cut.

"I was really pleased to find out I made it in," Wood said.

Jerry Wood said he was fortunate to beat the clock.

Woods is blind and after retiring for a couple of years, he said he's ready to go back to work.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services helps people find jobs.

But with all the prices of goods and services going up they can't afford to spend any more money, Harlan said.

"The cost of wheelchairs that we buy, the college tuition, the medical services that we buy so that clients can go to work are all increasing," she said.

Department officials said they still are accepting new applicants. Those people will also have to be on a waiting list.