Don’t force us into poverty

My name is Rebecca Preston and I live in Hopkins. I sustained a traumatic brain injury in December 2005 when a drunk […]

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My name is Rebecca Preston and I live in Hopkins. I sustained a traumatic brain injury in December 2005 when a drunk driver hit my car.

Before my injury I held two administrative assistant jobs. I was an avid writer and loved to read, play piano and sing. Since my brain injury my short-term memory is poor, I can’t remember how a short story starts by the time I reach the ending. My left eye is now fixed and dilated so seeing at night is out of the question.

I am thankful for the CADI Waiver services through Medical Assistance (MA) that I have been getting for the last nine years. They allow me to live independently with the help of my case manager, my ILS worker and homemaker. I also have a mental health worker who provides emotional support and helps me reach my goals, which included getting a job.

I just got a job for the first time since my accident; answering phones at an agency called Re-Start. I am now enrolled in MA for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) which means I no longer have to pay a huge spend-down to get waiver services. I now pay a premium for those same services, which increased last fall, but that’s another story.

Here is what my financial situation was like for the last nine years on MA with a spend-down.

I lived on SSDI at $1,179/month. Since this income was above the federal poverty level. I was expected to pay $450 for my support services each month before MA would start paying. This is known as my “spend-down” to qualify for MA and waiver services.

I live in a market rate apartment and pay $670/month in rent because the waiting list for Section 8 has been closed for nine years. I love where I live, and am an active part of that community. Last summer I helped plan our National Neighborhood Night Out. But after paying my rent & spend-down, I had $59/month left to pay a few bills. To make ends meet I go to the food shelf, which has mostly unhealthy food choices.

It seems counterintuitive that Medical Assistance forces people deep into poverty to get the help needed to remain independent.

It’s impossible for people with disabilities who can’t work to climb out of poverty. Please support legislation to increase the MA income, asset and spend-down standards.

Rebecca Preston, Hopkins


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