Austin The poor people of Texas are still scandalously neglected by the State of Texas. The Texas Legislature still criminally skimps on welfare payments. Every Texas governor of recent times Allan Shivers, Price Daniel, Preston Smith, Dolph Briscoe stands condemned by the cold, stark facts. You do not find these facts easily. They are buried in the 1973 report of the State Department of Public Welfare. By taking a magnifying glass and a hand calculator to the last few pages of the second volume of that report, you can find out how we treat our old, our impoverished blind, our children in poverty and our permanently and totally disabled, compared to the other states. But read through the whole report, without a magnifying glass and a hand calculator, and you will conclude that Big Daddy Texas is just oozing with concern for the poor. About one out of five Texas people lives in poverty according to the conservative federal definitions of it. For about 2,250,000 Texans, almost 19 percent of the state’s population, the DPW report says, “1973 was just one more year of scarcity and shortages, one more year of poverty. . . . They seldom worried about national scarcities. What worried them most were the day’s food bill, yesterday’s doctor bill, or tomorrow’s rental payment.” Fewer than one out of three of these Texans living in poverty received welfare through the Department of Public Welfare. To be exact, there are 660,000 Texans on the welfare rolls, compared to the 2,250,000 Texans in poverty. “To obtain assistance,” the DPW explains, “the person or family must ask for it. During [fiscal 1973] , 239,696 people asked for money, for themselves or the children in their care. Of those, 76,063 were found eligible.” Reading along patiently, one arrives at page 85 of volume two of the report, a chart entitled, “Average monthly payments to recipients, by state, June, 1973 no table showing how Texas ranks among the states in each welfare category, there is only this graph, with four colums graphing payments for the four categories of welfare for each state and the country as a whole. Visually, it is obvious Texas ranks miserably low, and at the base of each of the four columns for each state and the country, very small numbers tell each 20 The Texas Observer Big Daddy Scrooge Observations dollar figure that each column represents. By comparing the Texas figure with the comparable figure for each state, you can finally come up with the following facts, which should have been specified in the w el fare commissioners’ letter of transmission to Governor Briscoe and which should have been the central emphasis of the report instead of being hidden in a graph at page 85 of volume two: Texas pays each old age assistance recipient $54.63 a month on the average, less than the sum paid by every other state in the union except two and only 69 percent of the national average payment of $78.79. Texas pays families receiving aid for dependent children $112.04 a month on the average, less than every other state in the union except eight of them and only 59 percent of the national average of $188.63. Texas pays blind people an average of $82.23 a month, less than the sum paid by every other state in the union except seven of them and only 74 percent of the U.S. average payment of $110.51. Texas pays the permanent and totally disabled an average of $74.99 a month, less than all but five other states pay and only 70 percent of the national average. Of the 22 state-rankings in all the four categories that show payments less than Texas pays, only five are states that are not in the South. Generally speaking, only Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina do worse. In summary, Texas ranks, among the 50 states, 48th in payments to the aged, 42nd in payments to impoverished families with *Old age assistance is for persons 65 and older “whose income does not provide them enough money to meet basic needs.” Most recipients are over 75, and one-third are 80 or older. Aid to the blind is for persons 18 or older whose blindness prevents them from earning enough to meet basic needs. Aid to the permanently and totally disabled is for persons 18 to 65 whose physical or mental impairment, which must be permanent, total, irreversible, and medically verified, prevents them from earning enough for their basic needs. Texas used to require that recipients have another person present in their homes to help them, but a court struck down this requirement. Aid to farriilies with dependent children is for “who are deprived of support by one or both parents. The remaining parent or relative must be unable to earn enough” for the child’s basic needs. dependent children, 43rd in payments to the blind, and 45th in payments to the permanently and totally disabled. * The human meaning of the tightfisted payments to the old in Texas is magnified by the fact that we have 1,059,000 citizens who are 65 years and older. Tables 11 through 14 in the second volume provide figures from which one can learn how many applications for aid are “denied or otherwise disposed” categories. In fiscal 1973, the State Department of Public Welfare “denied or otherwise disposed” of 52 percent of the applicants for old age assistance, 55 percent of the applicants for aid to families with dependent children, 66 percent of the applicants for aid to the blind, and 74 percent of the applicants for aid to the permanently and totally disabled. Many of these denials-or-otherwisedisposals were of course justified or required by law. However, it is interesting to notice, from Tables 25 through 31, such facts as these: More than 5,000 applicants for old age assistance were denied for “refusal of applicant to furnish information or follow agreed plan” and more than 1,200 for failing to keep an appointment. Among applicants for aid for dependent children, more than 14,000 were denied for “refusal of applicant to furnish information or follow agreed plan,” more than 14,000 for “voluntary withdrawal of application,” more than 9,000 because of “earnings of parent or person acting in parent’s place,” more than 5,000 for failing to keep an appointment, more than 3,200 because “location of applicant unknown,” and 529 because the applicant was “unable to establish continued absence of father.” In the program for the permanently and totally disabled, in which three out of every four applicants were rejected, almost 13,000 applicants were rejected because they were “not permanently and totally disabled,” some 5,000 because they “refused to furnish information or follow agreed plan” and 1,413 because “applicant failed to keep appointment.” Another table shows the turnover of public welfare workers. Of the 2,720 public welfare workers employed by the state as of Sept. 1, 1972, 39 percent were gone a year later. The report explains that because of the new 1972 law on supplemental security assuming responsibility for financial aid to the aged, blind, and disabled, while the state will continue to handle aid to families with dependent children. “Since eligibility standards for SSI represent a liberalization of current
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