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How to apply for California's Assistance Dog Special Allowance Program

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Written by Sheryl Wiesner   

Assistance Dogs AKA Service Dogs help their disabled partners do things that they find difficult or impossible to do on their own
If you live in California and are a person with a disability that uses a Service Dog, did you know that there is a state program that will help you pay for some of your dog's needs?

If you qualify you can receive $50 every month to help pay for the care you provide for your Service Dog.

Your Service dog takes care of you, you can get assistance to care for him. He does not need to come from a program in order to qualify. Owner trained service dogs are still service dogs and our state recognises the fact that some of us can not afford to buy a program trained dog or are unable to fundraise the $10,000 that many programs require in order to receive a dog from them.
Difficulty: Moderate

assistance dogs do all sorts of things to help their disabled partners
See if you qualify;

You must meet certain income requirements and this changes year to year with each budget passed by our state, so if you do not qualify one year, does not mean that you may not qualify the next year, so reapply yearly even if you were turned down the previous year.

Other requirements are as found below.
To be eligible for the ADSA program, an individual must meet all four of the following criteria:

* Live in California.
* Is blind, deaf, hard of hearing, or disabled.
* Uses the services of a trained guide, signal, or service dog.
* Receives benefits from one or more of these programs:
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- SSP (State Supplementary Payment)
- IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services)
- CAPI (Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants)
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)SSDI recipients must also meet federally set poverty guidelines

Last year (2008) that meant that you had to have a gross income of less than $986 per month. I have no idea as to what the 2009 income guideline is. And with our current budget crisis, I fear that we may loose this benefit all together in 2010 but there is no information as of yet. I do know that they issued state IOU's for the July benefit amount which paid in August of 2009 these IOU's are supposed to be payable by Oct 12th of this year.

Assistance dog helping his partner do the grocery shopping
Understand the states definition of Disability with regards to this program

"Disabled Recipient" means any individual who is considered disabled as defined in Section 1614(a) of Title XVI of the Social Security Act or Title II Social Security Act(42 U.S.C. Section 401, et seq.).

The definition of disability for our state is rather vague in that it defines a disability as "limiting one or more" major activities of daily living. They have taken away the "severely limits" as defined in the federal disability code and opted for the more liberal "limits" instead. This gives disabled Californians greater protections than the federal government with regards to the definition of a disability. Which the Supreme Court of the United States has made it nearly impossible for someone to qualify for protections as disabled because they have placed the bar so high, with court rulings to make "disabled" mean, the near to total inability to perform one or more major life activities.


Assistance dogs can be trained to help autistic children
Understand the states definition of a Service Dog/Assistance Dog

"Guide Dog" means a dog that has been specifically trained, and certified by a licensed guide dog trainer under the provisions of Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code for use by a blind person to assist with his/her sight needs.
(sorry, they do not recognise owner trained guide dogs in this state as of yet)

"Assistance Dog" means a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog.

"Service Dog" means a dog that has been trained to meet a physically disabled person's requirements including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheel chair, or fetching dropped items."

"Signal Dog" means a dog that has been trained to alert a deaf person or a person whose hearing is impaired, to intruders or sounds.

assistance dog removing his handler's socks
Obtain the forms by clicking on the appropriate links below.
You will be required to list your personal information, the name of your Service Dog/Assistance Dog, who trained the dog (owner trained dogs are accepted) The date your dog came into service, and a few of the tasks your dog does for you.

You do not need to disclose your medical information in this form. So if your dog is trained as (for example) a seizure response dog, you can list on the form, alerts to my impending medical condition or changes in my medical condition. You do not need to say that he alerts you to an impending seizure or he responds to my seizure when it occurs.

If your dog is a psychiatric service dog you do not need to say that he helps you when you are in a disassociative episode, you can instead say that he alerts you to changes in your medical condition.

The point is that they have no business knowing what your diagnosis is in order for you to qualify as a person with a disability.

For a new application

For a renewal application you should point your web browser to the following internet address

to point their web browser to the following internet address

Tips & Warnings
β€’ You can receive the application or renewal applications on CD
β€’ you need to reapply annually, they will send you the renewal application by mail when your due date comes up
β€’ If your service dog dies, is replaced or you have changes in your income you need to notify the department
β€’ For a new application click here
β€’ For a renewal application click here
β€’ SSDI applicants need to click here for more info
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