LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Thousands of people who get monthly supplemental payments from DHS will have to wait three months before they get their next check.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is suspending those payments, and is changing to a quarterly payout system because of the state budget cuts. This impacts more than 88,000 people. They were notified last week that they won't get benefits for the months of April, May and June until the end of the quarter on July 1.
That system of being paid at the end of each quarter will continue until further notice.
It will help DHS manage the department's cash flow through the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, and prepare for the possibility of more cuts for the next fiscal year, depending upon what the legislature does in the next two months. Currently, the average monthly payment is $36.73.
OKDHS communications manager Mark Beutler says for some of those receiving the payments, it may have an impact on their financial stability.
"To some folks, that may not be a lot of money. But to others, it's paramount to their survival," Beutler said.
He says those clients will have to make due as best they can for the next three months. He stresses this money is not supposed to be a primary source of income.
"They will also have Social Security disability or Social Security. They will have some other type of income to rely on and they will be getting their money, but it will be July 1 in a lump sum payment," Beutler explained.
Beutler says another change the department is making, because of the cutbacks, is putting a temporary freeze on the number of clients in their program that helps families of disabled children. Beutler says the department was created during the Great Depression to create a safety net for low-income families and the state budget cuts are hindering DHS's ability to do that.
"Now, we are getting to the point where the safety net runs out of money. What do you do? So, we are kind of at a crossroads right now we're struggling trying to do everything we can to reduce staff and reduce overhead costs and try to just keep helping as many people as we possibly can," Beutler said.
In the last two years, DHS has reduced its staff by almost 1,200 people. Additionally, about 700 employees have accepted early retirement buyouts since the first of the year.
Beutler says the OKDHS budget has been reduced by a little more than $43 million as a result of the two revenue failures declared by the state in the current fiscal year.