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Not Enough Goes Into Welfare System

December 14, 1986

The implication in Roger Simons' article, "On Their Way Up--With Food Stamps" (Nov. 23) is that only those on the verge of starvation qualify. This is not true. The monthly gross income limit for a household of four to qualify for food stamps is $1,192; the net income limit is $917. Food stamp applicants must show proof of monthly earnings (and all other income) as well as rent receipts and utility bills. The amount of food stamps received are based on how much less a family of four's income is than $1,192, with the poorest households getting a maximum of $268 in stamps.

Simon did not give a breakdown of Jane and her husband's income, or rent and bills which would be necessary in determining how much is left over for other expenses (like food). With the average L.A. rent, $917 (net) is not a glamorous income for two people, let alone four.

If Jane felt unnerved at having to "stoop so low as to wait around a welfare office" then it's possible she would be embarrassed to admit how much she needed the assistance. She shouldn't be embarrassed however, because as long as she qualifies it should be clear that the system is set up to also help the temporarily needy--and it seems obvious that these two do not intend to become welfare dependent.

As for the long waits, these aren't, as Simon says, designed to separate the really needy from those who "are just looking for a little extra." Welfare offices, due to a tightened budget, are understaffed; workers are overworked. In fact, at County/USC Medical Center, where medically indigent adults who were removed from Medi-Cal must go for low-cost or free health care if they can't afford it elsewhere, waits have been known to be seven hours to see a doctor with whom they had an appointment.

And when Jane and her husband grumble over the taxes taken from their future paychecks, Simon would do better to contemplate how many tax dollars go into weapons, because it doesn't appear that nearly enough go into the welfare system.

SHURA YOUNG

Los Angeles

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