General Assistance-Unemployable (GA-U) is a Washington State-funded program that provides cash grants and medical benefits to adults who have temporary incapacities that prevent them from working. The GA-U caseload has increased from about 10,000 individuals in 1998 to over 16,000 in 2009. As of April 2009, the caseload was forecast to continue growing to over 20,000 people by 2013. Since about 2003, the GA-U caseload has risen faster than the state population and appears to correlate with growth in the number of adults in poverty and without health insurance.
In 2010, the GA-U was renamed the “Disability Lifeline Program.” The Disability Lifeline Program is similar to GA-U in most eligibility rules and benefits, except that the Disability Lifeline Program has a time limit during which individuals can receive benefits (up to 24 months within a five-year period). In the 2010 legislation that created the Disability Lifeline Program, the Institute was directed to “analyze the experiences of persons who have been terminated from disability lifeline benefits” due to time limits or other reasons. The Institute will track the number of former benefit recipients who transitioned to SSI benefits or became employed, in addition to other outcomes. This report is due in December, 2012.