MA-EPD: A Valued Work Incentive

A recent article published in Access Press brought to light the fact that more education and information are needed in […]

A recent article published in Access Press brought to light the fact that more education and information are needed in the community regarding Minnesota’s Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program. It is important for people to have the facts before making a decision about whether MA-EPD is the right program for them.

MA-EPD was created in 1999 as a work incentive to help people with disabilities return to or stay at work. It allows people between ages 16 and 65, who have been certified disabled either by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the State Medical Review Team (SMRT), to maintain their Medical Assistance (MA) health care coverage while working.

Because it is a work incentive program, there is no upper income limit for MA-EPD. This is meant to encourage people to work to their full potential without fear of losing their health care benefits. To be on the program, people pay a monthly premium based on their income and household size.

In order to qualify for MA-EPD a person must be employed or self-employed and have average earned income of more than $65 per month. To qualify as employment, Medicare and Social Security taxes must also be withheld from wages or paid from self-employment income. MA-EPD policy does not require that a person earn minimum wage or work a certain number of hours. Many people meet the employment criteria by being self-employed, keeping monthly business records and filing self-employment taxes either quarterly or at the end of the year. MA-EPD policy requires people to follow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) law and the Minnesota Department of Revenue tax laws. It does not create new tax law.

People on MA-EPD who lose their job through no fault of their own, or who are unable to work due to their disability or medical condition, can stay in the program for up to four months without earned income. This allows people time to find a new job, or to get well enough to return to work without losing their health care coverage. At the end of four months, if they do not have a job or are unable to return to work, they cannot be on MA-EPD, but may be eligible for standard MA.

With an asset limit of $20,000, MA-EPD also allows people to save a greater amount of money for themselves. The $20,000 asset limit does not include such things as the person’s home, one vehicle, retirement accounts, spouse’s assets or medical expense accounts set up through an employer. For example, a person could have a car, a home, $10,000 in a regular savings account plus an unlimited amount of money in a retirement account and still be eligible for MA-EPD.

When people on MA-EPD stop working and no longer qualify for the program, the county automatically reviews eligibility for standard Medical Assistance (MA). The MA-EPD asset rules and amount continue for up to 12 months. Therefore, people can keep their retirement accounts, medical expense accounts, spouse’s assets, and up to $20,000 for up to 12 months. If they return to work within 12 months, they can keep their assets at the MA-EPD level. If they haven’t returned to work by the end of 12 months, they would need to reduce their assets to $3,000 (for a household of one) in order to stay on standard MA.

While there are asset transfer provisions if a person on MA-EPD needs to go to a nursing home, or onto a waiver, if a person on MA-EPD does not need nursing home or waiver supports there are no asset transfer provisions.

As with all public programs, MA-EPD has limitations and policy guidelines. However, the guidelines are not meant to cause fear or prevent people with disabilities from enrolling in the program. MA-EPD is an excellent work incentive. It allows people to get the supports needed to return to work or to keep working. In a survey of MA-EPD recipients conducted last year, the overwhelming majority of MA-EPD recipients were very satisfied with the program. More than 70 percent of respondents said they would not be able to work without MA-EPD.

Please go to www.maepdpremium.com for more information on the MA-EPD program. If you have questions or other issues related to the impact of work on benefits, please call the Minnesota Work Incentives Connection at 651-632-5113 or 1-800-976-6728 (TTY: 651-632-5110 or MN Relay 711).