Disabled residents of Pennsylvania who relied on the state’s General Assistance program have been struggling since Gov. Tom Corbett cut the program from the state budget. Many are turning to Social Security disability insurance, which can seem nearly as unattainable as the recently axed state funds.

The program that provided more than $200 a month to about 70,000 state residents who suffer from disabilities or illnesses that prevent them from working ended Aug. 1. State officials have promised to help those who relied on General Assistance to seek alternative means of staying afloat, but those alternatives have yet to present themselves. In the meantime, many former General Assistance recipients have had to resume their pursuit of Social Security disability insurance, which can take two years or longer to acquire — an amount of time that many can’t afford as they struggle to afford the most basic expenses.

Pennsylvania residents suffering from HIV or AIDs are one group hurt by a lack of readily available disability assistance. Patients who can’t afford their co-pays for expensive medication often elect to skip it, which is extremely risky and can quickly lead to life-threatening problems. One AIDS sufferer who could no longer afford an over-the-counter drug that addresses her congestion recently contracted pneumonia, which can be fatal for those with compromised immune systems. By law, pharmacists are required to fill prescriptions for patients who can’t afford to pay. But not all pharmacies comply, and many patients aren’t aware of the law.

The process of obtaining Social Security disability insurance tends to be equally frustrating. First-time applicants are almost always rejected, and it can take years of painstaking attempts to finally receive benefits. In fact, many General Assistance recipients used the state’s funding to survive until they were finally granted SSDI. Now that the program has been gutted, many of those recipients are back to square one.

Fortunately, if you’re among this group, you don’t have to fight your battle alone. An attorney who understands how frustrating the Social Security application process is can offer assistance in getting that financial support. While the state may not be able to extend a viable helping hand, a legal professional who knows the SSDI system and what you’re going through is standing by, ready to help.

Source: Philly.com, “Advocates question Pa. officials on General Assistance cut,” Miriam Hill, Sept. 28, 2012

· Our firm handles Social Security disability insurance and a wide variety of personal injury issues. To learn more about our practice, visit our Harrisburg disability claims page.