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Older Hoosiers and those with disabilities question why they're left out of inflation relief

The exterior of the northeast side of the Indiana Statehouse. There's a streetlight and a tree in the foreground.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Lawmakers will return to the Statehouse on July 6 for a special session to implement Gov. Eric Holcomb's inflation relief plan.

An advocate for Hoosiers with disabilities says it seems like Gov. Eric Holcomb doesn’t care about helping them. That’s as the governor’s inflation relief plan leaves out many of the lowest-income Hoosiers.

Holcomb’s proposal is to send $225 to everyone who filed an Indiana tax return last year, even if they didn’t owe anything.

But many Hoosiers on disability and Social Security don’t file taxes because they don’t make enough.

That’s not a small number of people. AARP Indiana State Director Sarah Waddle said one in four Hoosiers rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

“So, there’s no way for these folks to add additional income to their pockets very easily,” Waddle said.

READ MORE: Indiana House Democrats call on governor to expand inflation relief plan as date set for special session

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Past president of Self-Advocates of Indiana Shawn Fulton said Hoosiers with disabilities want the governor to think about all people, not just some.

“They’re thinking if the federal government can do it and do it in a timely manner and do it right, then the governor should be able to do the same as the federal government,” Fulton said.

Holcomb’s explanation for his proposal is that it’s the fastest way to return money to “taxpayers” – though even those who don’t file a return still pay Indiana’s sales tax, the largest source of the state’s revenue.

Advocates also warn that the money could create a problem for Hoosiers with disabilities. People on disability are limited as to how much they can earn and keep in savings. Even if the governor's plan isn't expanded, those on disability who do file taxes could find themselves penalized for the extra money.

Advocates said state lawmakers should clarify that the inflation relief dollars don't count against the caps for those on disability.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri.