Saturday, September 30, 2023

Meet a couple with a disability who are able to get cash through guaranteed income

  • A couple in Minnesota survives on disability benefits, basic income programs and parental support.
  • The St. Paul pilot program was launched in 2020 and provides $150 per month for 18-months to 150 families. 
  • This basic-income program is designed to help low income families with children. 

Malissa and Jason take on part-time work whenever they can. They have been homebound with their children for the past two years due to their disabilities and their hesitance regarding workplace exposure to COVID-19. 

Malissa has an 8-year-old daughter named Samantha who has not been in a school since March 2020. Samantha is now enrolled online. Malissa asks that her last names be withheld in order to protect Mason’s privacy. Parents will know that Malissa’s caretaking is an important responsibility. full-time job — but not one that comes with a paycheck.

Their family saw the potential when Malissa, a guaranteed-income pilot program participant in her hometown of St. Paul (Minnesota), opened up new possibilities. For eligible recipients, a guaranteed income is a cash payment with no strings attached.

These programs have gained popularity across the country in the last year. There are at least 33 such programs in cities and in states all over the country. reportedBy Insider. California’s basic-income programCash is prioritized for foster youth, pregnant people and those who are not yet in the system. Jackson, Mississippi currently gives fundsTo 100 low-income Black mothers who live in subsidized housing The common thread is no strings attached cash to help people in financial trouble.

With their $500 per month, Malissa and Jason have been able to pay for medical treatments for their children, car payments, and diapers — essentially filling in gaps that the pandemic has made it harder for their family to cover.

Malissa explained that “it helped me with the children’s stuff, like clothes and diapers, Christmas gifts, and Christmas presents,” and listed “building blocks”, books, and baby stuff as well as baby lotions, night creams, and bath soaps to treat Mason’s skin eczema.

She stated, “When you have an infant crying, that stuff’s important.” 

To help certain populations during the pandemic, cash-payment programs are gaining popularity. 

Melvin Carter, St. Paul Mayor, is on the board Mayors for a Guaranteed IncomeA coalition of over 60 mayors working together in order to launch these programs across the nation. Carter launched the People’s Prosperity PilotIn November 2020, 150 families were assisted below the federal poverty threshold. Their work hours were reduced by COVID-19 which provided $500 per month for 18 years. 

Insider’s chief of staff Peter Leggett stated that a guaranteed income “helps families in ways traditional forms of public benefit don’t.” He allowed families to spend the money as they choose. “This gives families the freedom to make their own decisions and take care of their own needs as they arise.” 

Leggett explained that child care was particularly difficult, with 63% of participants in St. Paul’s program financially affected by a lack of care options due COVID-19. 

A family of four is not supported by disability payments alone.

Malissa was introduced to PPP by a hospital worker after she gave birth in 2020 to Mason. Due to mental-health disabilities, she had stopped working full-time at age 40. She avoids part-time work as they affect her supplemental security income. In general, money from guaranteed-income programs doesn’t affect one’s eligibility to public-assistance programs in any way that employment can. 

The couple supports their family with about $2,000 per monthly in disability income. This is because of mental-health problems and complications from a childhood case. They say that after spending money on rent and utilities, there isn’t much left over for household expenses. Insider heard Malissa tell Insider that her family has received $500 per month from PPP to help them through the pandemic. She also said that they have used the money for car payments and supplies to support their children. 

It also paid Malissa to fix her car so that they could visit family and take the children to the doctor.

“I’d rather put my health aside for my family, and make money anyway.”

Jason has been a beneficiary since 2003 of the Social Security Disability Insurance program. As a child, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and he continues to suffer from health problems as an adult. He worked part-time, while receiving SSDI benefits. He even took on work during pandemic.

Insider heard from Jason that it was hard to keep his job while taking care of Malissa’s children and their children. Jason has a weak immune system, which makes a pandemic workplace environment difficult. He worked for a time in restaurants and at a metal-fabrication facility. He explained that the situation became untenable when his children started to get sick. The entire family was also given COVID-19. 

He said that he would try to sacrifice his health for his family and make money anyway. But the money from PPP “actually assists a lot when it comes to taking time off work.” 

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