State to slash general assistance benefits as number of program recipients swells

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 3:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A key state benefits program that helps adults who are temporarily disabled and do not qualify for Social Security is being slashed.

The state Department of Human Services confirmed Wednesday that the monthly check for the general assistance program will be slashed from $388 to $260 starting in March.

DHS says there are roughly 6,000 recipients across the state, a number which includes a 30% jump since the start of the pandemic.

The sharp spike is the reason why the allowance is being cut. The agency said it’s seeking $5.4 million in emergency appropriations from the state Legislature to make up the loss.

“It’s a dramatic reduction of $128,” said Brian Donohoe, DHS benefit employment support services division administrator.

“If we are successful with the legislature and they do approve our emergency request, we are going to be able to issue supplements back to those recipients who were paid the reduced amount.”

Hawaii has also seen other benefits programs swell amid the pandemic. Since April, more than 70,000 households in the islands have applied for food stamps.

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