Social Security disabled beneficiaries who are working or thinking about working should know that they can now work with less concern about losing their Medicare coverage. Starting October 1, they are now eligible for at least 93 months after the end of their trial work period, an additional 4 1/2 years.
This will mean many disabled beneficiaries may not have to decide between working and keeping the health care coverage they need to survive. The extended coverage should make it possible for them to make the transition to the workplace without risking the health care coverage they need.
When the extended Medicare coverage runs out, beneficiaries will be able to purchase the coverage at a price substantially less than a private policy would cost, if one were available.
The change is the first provision to become effective in the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act (TWWIIA) of 1999 signed by the President in December 1999. The act is one of the most substantial increases in work opportunities for disabled beneficiaries in recent years. It also expands coverage for Medicaid recipients, provides for increased vocational and rehabilitation assistance, established work incentives specialists in Social Security offices, and calls for community involvement in helping disabled beneficiaries who wish to work.
* Under the law, states may provide Medicaid coverage to people who are not too disabled to work even if their incomes are above 250 percent of the federal poverty level. People receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from Social Security should check with their state Medicaid offices for availability of the coverage in their areas.
* Beginning January 1, disabled Social Security and SSI beneficiaries will receive a “ticket” they may use to obtain vocational rehabilitation and other employment support services from an approved provider of their choice. The program will be phased-in nationally over a three-year period.
Other provisions of the law make it easier for beneficiaries to get back on the rolls if their work-attempt fails and, as a result, postpones disability reviews while a person is using the ticket.