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Social Security disability now impacts Medicaid qualifications

A new bill may make it harder for those receiving Social Security disability benefits to qualify for Medicaid.

President Obama signed a new bill on Nov. 21 that orders income from Social Security benefits be considered when deciding whether or not a person qualifies for Medicaid. This is frustrating for some, including advocates for those receiving Social Security disability benefits.

The new legislation is intended to close what the government perceived as a loophole in the original Affordable Care Act. Previously, Social Security benefits were not included as income in determining eligibility for Medicaid. Understandably, this made it easier for many individuals with disabilities to qualify for Medicaid.

Some criticize the change and say they are especially concerned it will make it more difficult for many individuals with disabilities to qualify for the long-term care services Medicaid offers.

Almost two million people receiving Social Security disability benefits must wait two years before they are eligible for Medicare. Previously, those individuals would have been eligible for Medicaid, but now that might not be the case.

Any delay in receiving benefits can be difficult for those who rely on them. Those affected would do well to fully investigate the available options and seek help if they need it.

Sometimes working with government agencies can be frustrating and confusing. For those New Jersey residents who are planning to apply for benefits or for anyone who has been denied benefits, consulting with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability benefits may be the best first step.

Source: McKnight's, "Obama takes heat for correcting Medicaid loophole," Nov. 22, 2011

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