Program Boosts Support (The Leader-Post)

Program boosts support
By Janet French, StarPhoenix; Postmedia News May 14, 2011

The provincial program that provides income to people with disabilities took a step towards expansion on Friday.

Social Services Minister June Draude announced as of Jan. 1, 2012, people who receive a living allowance through the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program will receive an additional $50 a month.

The ministry will also spend $1.1 million this year to research and develop a tool to decide which people with disabilities should also be registered in the program. Currently, only people with disabilities who live in care homes are eligible for the program.

“The work we’re doing is very, very important,” Draude said. “The Saskatchewan Advantage means everybody in this province has to be proud to live here. And that’s our job, is to make sure those who don’t have the same abilities as we do are also very proud.”

There are 2,750 Saskatchewan people currently enrolled in SAID, which costs $33 million a year. The government wants to expand that to benefit more than 8,000 people with disabilities, including some people who live independently. SAID began in October 2009 and pays recipients the same amounts as people who receive social assistance -about $834 a month for a single person -but will be administered through separate offices. The first SAID office in the province opened Friday in Saskatoon.

Draude also said Friday the program will receive another $500,000 annually to fund a policy change made earlier this year that allows SAID recipients to work and earn up to $200 a month without the money being clawed back.

Another $150,000 in annual funding will allow people who receive SAID to inherit up to $100,000 without having benefits clawed back. That change, too, took effect in February.

Draude said she hopes work on the assessment tool to decide who should be receiving SAID is done by fall so the ministry can begin enrolling more people in 2012.

People with disabilities who live independently “have been waiting very, very anxiously for the day when they can take part in SAID,” says Judy Hannah, chairwoman of the Disability Income Support Coalition.

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