For first time in history, cash assistance program increases grants to better support low-income Washingtonians age 65+, blind or disabled
Contact: Norah West, DSHS Office of Communications, 360–489–5587
OLYMPIA — Effective Sept. 1, 2022, the ongoing maximum monthly payment standards for the Aged, Blind or Disabled program for low-income Washingtonians increased from $197 to $417 for a single individual and from $248 to $528 for a married couple. The change is the result of a legislative request initiated by the Department of Social and Health Services to better support individuals who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled, and to ensure the program’s payment standards align with other state cash assistance programs. The increase is funded with support from the state’s 2022 supplemental operating budget.
Better known as ABD, the program provides a cash grant and a referral to the Housing and Essential Needs Program to those who are eligible, including people who are likely to meet Supplemental Security Income disability criteria based on an impairment expected to last at least 12 months. ABD recipients also receive assistance to apply for federal SSI benefits. This increase to ABD grants is the first in the program’s history; in 2011 due to budget shortfalls, the program — formerly known as Disability Lifeline and General Assistance — reduced its maximum grant from $339 to $197.
While the increase in the ABD cash grant is a much-welcome cause for celebration, people who are eligible for the grant are often living furthest in the margins of Washington’s communities and may continue to do so, even with this increase. Washingtonians dependent on an ABD grant for their income will receive a maximum payment of $417 per month or $5,004 per year, approximately 37% of the Federal Poverty Level. ABD recipients who transition to federal SSI disability benefits receive a maximum SSI payment of $841 per month or $10,092 per year, approximately 74% of the Federal Poverty Level. These amounts do not meet standard of living costs anywhere in our state. Washingtonians, especially those who have a disability and are living on a fixed income, are struggling increasingly to meet their basic needs (see chart above: Living in Washington State on an ABD or SSI Disability Income). Last year, nearly one-third of ABD recipients were experiencing homelessness and more than half had a mental health disability.
To learn more about ABD grant qualifications and to apply, visit washingtonconnection.org, visit a local DSHS Community Services Office or call 877–501–2233.