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Golden State Stimulus: Why the California disabled community is feeling left behind

The Golden State Stimulus will not be going to Californians on Social Security Disability Insurance.
Credit: ABC10
Charis Hill waters the garden in their backyard that they've been growing since before the pandemic while holding a cane.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There's a new push at the Capitol to expand California's Golden State Stimulus program.

Under the proposal, families that earn up to $75,000 annually would get $600, with an additional $500 for children. Still, there are many disabled Californians feeling left behind from the stimulus.

ABC10 learned it does not include those on Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI.

"I live with an inflammatory disease that causes inflammation throughout my whole body," said Charis Hill, a disability activist.

While staying home during the pandemic, Hill still came outside to work on the backyard garden.

"I come out in spurts throughout the day because I can't do it all in one go and then I get back in bed," Hill said.

Hill survives on $1,026 a month through SSDI payments and hasn't needed to file taxes in more than five years because of not being able to work. 

"The federal stimulus packages automatically included SSDI, so why can't California do that work of making sure we get that extra help?" Hill said.

Andy Imparato, the Executive Director of Disability Rights California said the state decided that the Golden State Stimulus will go to people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but it wouldn't go to people on SSDI.

While the stimulus is designed for lower-income families making less than $75,000 a year, it won't factor in those making a just fraction of that on SSDI's fixed income. 

"It felt like the state was trying to do something good and to draw lines that made sense to the state, and I think in this case, they drew the line in a way that was not just," Imparato said.

Since the money is technically a tax refund from the state, it also requires a 2020 tax return to be filed. 

But according to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, less than one in five people on SSDI actually work. CalMatters says it's because they are limited by their disabilities or risk losing benefits if they work too much. 

"These aren't people who have a lot of money, and they typically have higher expenses connected to their disabilities so we believe it would be good for the state to extend the stimulus to that population as well," Imparato said.

It leaves people like Hill feeling looked over, once again.

"I would say there's a certain amount of feeling just left behind by the state and the federal government," Hill said. "It's just the ongoing repetitive like poor people, disabled people, high risk people - our lives aren't as important."


Almost 70% of Californians received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

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