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Issue Alert - 04-04-05

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Date:

Apr 05, 2004

Issue Summary:

Freedom to Work Act Implementation

Persons Affected:

Disabled individuals with earned income

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 (989) 755-3558 FaxE-mail: info@ccj-mi.org


Background

Medicaid - PEM 174

What's Happening?

Pursuant to the Freedom to Work Act (FTW), the Family Independence Agency has issued regulations for this new category of Medicaid. Eligibility began on January 1, 2004. In order to be eligible, the following criteria must be met:1. The client must be MA eligible before eligibility for FTW can be considered;2. The client does not access MA through a spend-down;3. The client must be disabled according to the disability standards of the Social Security Administration;4.The customer must be employed;5. Other eligibility factors as listed in the manual.Income eligibility exists when the customer’s net unearned income does not exceed 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is $771 beginning January 1, 2004. A customer with earned income exceeding 250% of the FPL is required to pay a monthly premium based on a sliding scale to keep MA coverage. A customer with net earned income exceeding 250% of the FPL is required to pay a monthly premium based on earned income to keep MA coverage. Premiums will be billed and collected by the Department of Community Health (DCH) through FTW.See PEM 176 for additional asset and divestment policies.

What Should Advocates Do?

Disabled individuals that would like to return to the work force or increase their earnings should be encouraged to do so. Through the Ticket to Work Act, there are resources available to assist disabled people who are returning to work. Recipients participating in the ticket program will receive employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services from organizations called Employment Networks. Employment Networks are private organizations or government agencies, including the Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), which are approved by, and have agreed to work with the Social Security Administration in providing employment services to Ticket holders. However, there is no penalty for not participating, and clients will continue to receive the same benefits.

What Should Clients Do?

If clients return to the work force or attempt to work, they should report any changes in income to their caseworker at FIA and to the Social Security Admininstration.Disabled clients who receive earned income should obtain legal help if there is a change in their medical benefits.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan LawHelp web site (http://MI.LawHelp.org) or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.