Residential Fee Collection
Published April 17th, 2012
They feel like the government is picking their pockets.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is starting a new program called the "Residential Fee Collection."
It would require some of their clients to give back to the state any excess cash benefits as a way to manage the agency's budget.
"Your just going to have to live as the bottom of the barrel because you can't speak for yourself," said Ellen Marraffino.
Marraffino has a sister named Bess who is a customer of the Agency of Persons with Disabilities.
Bess lives in a group home, but her family members did not want her on camera.
"They're taking her social security and taking over $200 and something out of it and keeping it to balance the APD budget," said Marraffino.
Every month Bess receives a social security check for $904.
She is required to pay just over $543 for her room and board.
She used to have about $267 left over to spend on personal needs, but not anymore.
Now that amount is only about $94.
"Anything that she does comes out of that $93.58. It's a treat for her like anybody else to go out to eat and she can't," said Marraffino.
Melanie Etters from APD said they have spent about 930 million and were only allocated 805 million. She said the average annual cost for someone to live in group home is about $35,000 a year.
"They are receiving benefits from the state and we worked with customers, stakeholders, providers to come up with opportunities that are fair and equitable to all the individuals involved and this was one of the ideas that rose to the top and everybody thought it was fair for every individual with disabilities to contribute in a small way the cost of their care," said Etters.
There are 100 APD customers supported by the Arc of Alachua County.
"I think all of us recognize that the agency had to do something with this ongoing budget crisis. There are a lot of mix feelings about this particular approach. There are those people who support it and there are those who are against it. The Arc of Florida did not take a position either way," said Dick Bradley the Executive Director of the Alachua County Arc.
He says that the people who are most affected by the fee are those who are on social security administration.
They receive more money from their deceased or retired parent's social security, which is now going to the state.
"It is not right. My father worked all his life to earn his social security," said Marraffino.
The first fee is due on May 15th.
Etters from APD said the fee is not finalized and there may be some changes in the future.
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