Fear of losing health insurance can be a major barrier for people with disabilities who want to work. Medical Assistance for Employed People with Disabilities (MA-EPD) is a work incentive to help people with disabilities work and still retain or gain access to the health care services they need, for a monthly premium they can afford. To be eligible, people must be earning more than $65 per month. Premiums are based on household size and gross monthly income. MA-EPD allows people to retain a higher level of income and assets than standard Medical Assistance. Higher income and more assets help people to live more independently. People who are receiving SSI or SSI 1619(b) are already on Medical Assistance and do not need MA-EPD.
MA-EPD has been a popular benefit in Minnesota since 1999. Over 7,000 Minnesotans a year use MA-EPD, but until legislative changes in 2012, it was not available to people over 65. CCD led the charge to change policy with stories of working Minnesotans with disabilities who had to stop working at age 65 due to no longer being eligible for MA-EPD and face poverty to preserve their health care benefits. Personal stories helped citizens and legislators understand the impact of this challenge to employed individuals with disabilities as they age.
The story of Charles Van Heuvein was picked up by the media and galvanized the public to advocate for legislative changes. Van Heuvein had worked for the St. Paul School District for 18 years. MA-EPD enabled him to keep more of his income and to live more independently. When he reached the age of 65 and was no longer eligible for MA-EPD, he faced a daunting choice. If he was forced into retirement to preserve health care coverage, he could lose the modest assets he had acquired to live more independently including his ability to afford his adapted condo. He might end up in a nursing home. If he continued working, his current income could make him ineligible for standard Medical Assistance and the health care services he needed. Van Heuvein’s situation and similar stories from other Minnesotans gave a human face to what legislative changes were needed. MA-EPD is now available to Minnesotans with disabilities beyond the age of 65.
Don’t let fears about losing heath care coverage prevent you from working. Find out more about your personal situation and how MA-EPD could benefit you. To learn more about MA-EPD, call the Work Incentives Connection at 1-800-976-6728, or go to www.disabilityhubmn.org .
Carol Rydell, Kaposia for the MNCCD Employment Work Group with assistance from the Minnesota Work Incentives Connection website and Anni Simons, Government Relations Specialist at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.