What is Washington DC's "Interim Disability Assistance" (IDA) Program?

Submitted by Daniel on

Residents in Washington, D.C., who are dependent on IDA (Interim Disability Assistance) while they wait to be accepted for Social Security Disability Insurance had a scare when D.C. Mayor Gray recently announced a potential budget cut on the program which threatened to take those benefits away.

For the new fiscal year starting in October, Gray’s budget proposed to stop all IDA benefits to those currently receiving them and reject any future applications, at least for the following year. The District of Columbia Council decided against the drastic cut, however, enabling the program to remain well-funded throughout the next year with at least 1.5 million dollars in funds designated for IDA.

Interim Disability Assistance, which is similar to programs in most other states, also receives reimbursement from the federal government for any funds it distributes once its beneficiaries are approved for Social Security Disability. This being said, the IDA program in D.C. is expecting nearly another million dollars in these federal reimbursements in 2012, although this was also up for debate in recent months. IDA is conceptually similar to SSA's presumptive disability.

Advocates of IDA are pleased that the Council also rejected a proposal that these federal reimbursement funds be put back into Washington D.C.’s general fund when they are received instead of directly back into IDA for future funding of the program.

In the past, IDA has frequently assisted over 2,000 D.C. residents a year with small payouts to hold them over while waiting for their cases to get through the SSA’s time-consuming disability application process. This fund has proven vital to many residents who would have no other means of support because of their disabling conditions and the notoriously long wait for a SSDI determination, which can be as long as two years. Without the help of IDA, many of these people would be homeless or unable to meet the basic needs of life.

It is no question that the SSA’s backlog of Social Security Disability applications has thrown many people into desperate situations. Unable to work because of their disability, they become dependent on family and friends for support, if they have them. Programs like IDA benefit cities and localities by temporarily providing for the most basic needs of these people, and thereby improving the social and economic atmosphere.

Improvements in the efficiency of the Social Security Disability program’s determination process will benefit not only the beneficiaries who are approved more swiftly, but programs like IDA who are facing an increasing risk of lost funding do to local and state-wide budget cuts in light of the suffering economy. The more legitimately disabled people the SSA is able to assist with benefits in a timely manner, the less strain there will be on IDA and similar programs.

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