Ohio Woman Removed From Welfare While In Coma (VIDEO)

Ohio Woman Removed From Welfare While In Coma (VIDEO)

Kimberly Thompson was placed in a medically induced coma after a complication resulting from a May 2013 hysterectomy. The initial operation left Thompson unable to return to the warehouse job she held for over 10 years and she needed to rely on the state of Ohio’s welfare program for her medical care, as well as food and financial security, until she was able to get well. Despite receiving medical care through the state, they would have been aware of Thompson’s extended hospital stay while she was in a coma, her food stamp and cash benefits were terminated for failure to meet job training requirements.

In Ohio, as in many states, welfare recipients must undergo various evaluations and agree to contractual obligations to receive benefits. In Ohio, under the Ohio Works First program, an Up-Front Appraisal Model is used to assess an applicant’s employment prospects. According to a letter from County Department of Human Services Director Arnold Thompson,

“The up-front appraisal forms the foundation for building the participant’s work plan for self-sufficiency and personal responsibility through unsubsidized employment within OWF time limits. It documents and assesses each participant’s economic, educational, employment and family history.”

Welfare recipients must also sign a Self Sufficiency Contract outlining their work responsibilities and the repercussion for not fulfilling requirements, losing benefits.

While Thompson has since been found to default on her Self Sufficiency Contract with good cause and has been paid any monies she was determined to be owed, the situation has left her homeless. She and her teenage daughter are still forced to live with relatives.

“It seems crazy. If I’d had that money all along, I could have had a place for me and my daughter, but now because she doesn’t live with me it’s impossible to get us back together until I can work again. I don’t know when that will be.” Thompson said.

In July of this year, an Ohio Mid Biennium Review revealed five new initiatives for people on public assistance. These included Bills requiring the Office of Human Services Innovation “To help individuals find employment, succeed at work, and stay out of poverty.” How to help those on public assistance to achieve these goals was not outlined. The Office of Human Services Innovation is also “To standardize and automate eligibility determination policies and processes for public assistance programs.” The necessity for this addition to the bill is clear in Thompson’s case, as a more streamlined and standardized eligibility format would have prevented the troubles Thompson has faced since her hospitalization a year and a half ago.

In Ohio, the income level for a family of two, like Thompson and her daughter, to receive public assistance is $15,730 per year. That amounts to a little over $300 a week. Ohio ranks 10th in American states where households do not have enough food to eat and the rate of poverty has grown 3% between 2000 and 2012. The statistics regarding children living in poverty in Ohio are a little different. In 2006, the rate of child poverty was 9%; in 2012, it rose to 12%.