Sharing my Cross
In today’s economy, a person diagnosed with a chronic illness, is the first person cut from the workforce. Most Americans believe Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medicaid provide for the exorbitant medical needs of an adult in this situation. They also think adults on disability receive Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare for free. This could not be further from the truth.
For example, if a monthly SSDI check is above $475 (It will be if the person worked.), then she will not receive medical assistance or Foodstamps from Medicaid. At the inception of Medicaid, it was determined a person with a permanent disability could pay rent, food, and utilities with $500. Can any of you live on that amount of money?
It is also more expensive to stay alive and independent as an adult with a disability. First, she pays between $125-175 for Medicare monthly. Home health assistance, special transportation, alternative/ adapted housing, etc. is all necessary and out-of-pocket expense. This is where the rest of the SSDI income is supposed to be paid beyond the aforementioned $475. If a person is unable to pay for the necessities with that $475, it does not matter. FYI- The cost of living increase President Obama gives, is only enough to cover the increase in Medicare that corresponds with the cost of living increase.
For a person, who still has a few marketable skills, the Working Healthy Program can be a resource for medical assistance. It is the only way a person on SSDI can receive medical assistance without incurring thousands of dollars of medical debt. In order to be eligible, they need to work no more than 10 hours a week and earn at least $65 a month and pay taxes on the $65. Then their SSDI income is added to their monthly earnings, and they have to pay a monthly premium, usually more than their monthly earnings, to receive Medicaid assistance.
Watch how quickly the money disappears. A person who draws $1600 in SSDI and earns $70/ month will need to pay $83/ month for Medicaid assistance plus business taxes. Take out the Medicare premiums $1375, government subsidized housing $1050, food $800, insurance $740, vehicle $600, utilities $350, assistance dog $275, co-pays and over the counter medicines $175, business expenses $75, etc.
Why work when all the earnings go to Medicaid? Why doesn’t the government offer a monthly premium option for all people on SSDI who need Medicaid due to expensive treatments? Under the current rules, someone with a disability cannot afford to work or taper off disability in many cases.
If you have further questions about the Kansas Medicaid system, you can visit the state’s website at http://www.kdheks.gov/hcf/workinghealthy.index.htm. I want to encourage all Kansans to stand up for adults with disabling conditions who want to continue working and improve the quality of their lives.