Breaking news from Ardmore, Ok – my mother (who lives there) stumbled onto a way for me to be ABLE (that’ll make more sense in a minute) to get government assistance AND have money to pay my substantial medical bills. In 2014, a program called ABLE (Achieving a Better Life for Experience) was initiated. This program allows disabled folks to put money into a tax free account that won’t count against them when they apply for benefits (SSI, Medicaid, etc.)
You see, you have to be on the brink of poverty to qualify for programs like SSI and Medicaid (no investments, no more than $2,000 in the bank). This is kinda backwards considering the folks that need these services (like me) probably have ginormous medical bills (like me).
Thing is, I don’t qualify because I was 28 when I became disabled. To qualify for this program you need to have been 26 or younger when the disability started. Does this two years make my situation any less urgent? Should I go back in time and cause my brain hemorrhage to occur two years earlier?
No and no. The answer is to appeal to the powers that be, which I’ve done with this letter to John Ratcliffe, my congressional representative –
Dear Representative Ratcliffe,
I write to you as a disabled man disillusioned by methodical rejection and neglect by our country’s social welfare system.
In mid 2009, at the age of 28, I had a massive brain hemorrhage in my brainstem (I’ve a blog with more info. here it is from the beginning – https://braininjourney.com/2009/07/01/how-it-began/). I now live with a weakened left side, a limp, and slurred speech.
The 6+ years since have been a struggle, most notably with medical bills. It’s coming down to the nitty-gritty, my checking account is dwindling and I have no savings. I do, however, have a 403b. I’d like to take the funds from this account and put them into an ABLE account: (http://www.ndss.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Agenda/Creating-an-Economic-Future-for-Individuals-with-Down-Syndrome/Achieving-a-Better-of-Life-Experience-ABLE-Act/#sthash.38UVpv5f.MmKqVt7q.dpuf), so that I can get SSI and Medicaid.
This way I’ll be able to use that money for medical expenses and avoid “meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals who report no more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value [and] remain poor” to continue to receive public assistance.
This matter is all the more urgent because, having recently lost my job, I’m unemployed. This means I’ll have to pay out of pocket for health insurance.
One of the eligibility requirements is that an individual must’ve been 26 or younger when he/she became disabled. As I mentioned earlier, I was 28. Can this legislation be amended in such a way that it doesn’t discriminate by age?
Please consider my case for your valuable attention. Getting into this program would ease a heavy burden upon my family and me.
Problem is, my message will be a proverbial drop in the bucket full of other constituents’ missives. It is for this reason that I’m calling on you (yes you, with the shirt on!) to help my plea get noticed by those with the power to affect change and end this egregious discrminAGEion! I ask that you post this on the social media platform of your choice or favorite it here on WordPress – simple actions that might mean big, positive changes for me!
Here is a LINK to more information about ABLE – it’s on the National Down Syndrome Society’s website – it has the best explanation.
Have you applied for and asked for MEDICARE? That’s what I have. Now, it’s not like you get it overnight, or anything like that. Took me 3+ years, being that I was only 36 when I first applied. Thank God I finally got it directly when the bills started coming from the surgery. I talked my way back to have them work into the system and get every one of them to be filed under Medicare. Nice. Very Nice.
Oh, and another thing…. Getting this shit isn’t the easiest thing in the world if you are under retirement age. But sitting in the courtroom directly after my brain surgery with my head still completely wrapped, it was easy to get a judge to agree with me.