UntitledWhen I worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), I no longer received Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While on SSI, you automatically qualify for Medicaid. My personal care assistants are covered by Medicaid, so remaining eligible for Medicaid was critical.  I was told on SSDI, I had 9 Trial Work Periods to work as much as I want. What I wasn’t told was that my earnings were still limited by Medicaid rules. I figured out I made too much to qualify for 1619b, but I could “buy in” to Medicaid with the WA State Healthcare for Workers with Disabilities program. This program limits your earnings to $49,956/year and you pay 7.5% of your earnings as your monthly Medicaid premium. While I was in school working part time, my earnings were below the limit.  This proved difficult after graduating.

The week I was graduating with my MBA through a one year accelerated program, I received a job offer to work for an IT accessibility company in Virginia (just outside Washington, DC).  I accepted the job offer and started planning my next two weeks before flying across the country and starting the next step in my career!  Part of this planning was looking at my Medicaid eligibility options.  Unfortunately, there were no options.  Virginia’s buy-in program has an income limit of approximately $42,000 and my earnings are too high.  I have two options: paying out of pocket for my personal care or limiting my earnings.  Limiting my earnings did not seem like a good option so I now pay out of pocket for my personal care.  I have significantly cut my personal care costs by paying for the minimum level of personal care that I can.

I am now looking at options to move back to WA state in order to regain my Medicaid eligibility.  I am looking at living in a less expensive area so that I can cut my earnings to regain my Medicaid eligibility and have a higher quality of life.  The buy-in program is a great tool but still limits the potential of people with disabilities.  I do not want to have to choose between my personal care and the salary I am qualified for.

Advice From a Young Professional

The Basics

Medicaid is a state health benefit for people who have limited income and assets. Most SSI disability beneficiaries are eligible for Medicaid, which is administered by the states. Participation is optional. All States and the District of Columbia have Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a partnership between each State and the Federal Government, and is financed by state funds that are matched by the Federal government.