A drive has begun to sign up Orange County residents eligible for general relief benefits from Orange County as a result of settlement of a case that alleged the county put up inappropriate barriers to those who deserved the benefits.
Advocacy groups and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County are canvassing the region to ensure eligible people file their claims by the deadline, May 8.
General relief is a county-financed, state-required program that in Orange County serves a monthly average of 973 indigent adults who are not supporting children.
Thursday from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m., Legal Aid officials will be at the Santa Ana Armory, 612 E. Warner Ave. Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, Legal Aid will provide claim forms at its office, 2101 N. Tustin Drive, Santa Ana. Those wishing to contact Legal Aid for future times and locations may call 800-834-5001.
On Wednesdays, Orange County Catholic Worker will make claim forms available at the Santa Ana Civic Center mall in front of Building 11.
County Social Services Agency officials recently sent out notices to about 22,000 people who may have some claim to benefits under the lawsuit settlement, which was finalized last October. The period for which denied benefits can be claimed is Aug. 24, 2010, to Dec. 4, 2012, Legal Aid officials said.
In 2011, Legal Aid, the Western Center on Law & Poverty and three residents filed the lawsuit alleging the county put up inappropriate barriers for people to obtain general relief, which is mandated by state law. The settlement also raised the monthly general relief allotment to $317, an increase of $38, effective last July 1.
It is unknown how many people are eligible for some form of reimbursement under the settlement, which could vary considerably depending on an individual’s case.
As an example, an individual denied general relief for his or her three eligible months when they were employable during a year could receive $837 from a claim, Legal Aid officials say.
In the year ending last July, there were nearly 1,000 people at various times receiving general relief from the county, up from less than 400 in 2007 before the economic downturn began.
— REX DALTON
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