NYLAG Joins Statewide Advocates in Calling for Renewed Investment in Disability Advocacy Program

NEW YORK – January 29, 2013 — NYLAG joins with members of DAPWorks, a statewide campaign led by the New York State Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) advocates and members of the New York State Senate and Assembly, in calling for an increase in the Executive Budget for low income disabled New Yorkers in need of financial support.

Through DAP, advocates in every New York county provide low-income disabled New Yorkers with legal representation when their federal Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability applications have been denied or benefits terminated. DAP clients are among New York’s most severely disabled adults and children—many are mentally ill or homebound and cannot stabilize their lives without DAP’s support. When DAP advocates are successful, the federal government pays the state and counties back for any welfare benefits provided to clients. Over $270 million has been saved by the state and localities that no longer have to provide welfare benefits to those who are moved onto more appropriate federal assistance.

“The DAP program has consistently generated a far greater return on investment for State and local government than what they have spent, despite the erosion of funding over the last years,” said Yisroel Schulman, President of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “It is time to reverse that trend and increase NY DAP funding, which is crucial to providing a stable income to severely disabled individuals and families – and a no brainer for the State, which stands to see an even greater return on benefits paid out to disabled individuals.”

DAP funding has been drastically cut in recent years, which has eroded its ability to leverage the federal dollars and subsequent savings here in New York. The majority of DAP clients are referred to DAP providers by state or locally-funded public assistance programs and departments of social services. But due to funding limitations, providers are collectively turning away thousands of eligible New Yorkers every year, causing the State to lose critical services and payments. This year, to allow DAP to continue to yield savings for New York State, and to avoid serious service reductions, advocates are calling on lawmakers to increase DAP funding to $7M, $2.24 million over what was included in the Executive Budget.