By S. Paul Prior, Esq., and Ira M. Fingles, Esq.
People with disabilities who receive Medicaid sometimes face a difficult choice between working and continuing to receive benefits. Many individuals with disabilities who rely on government assistance benefits are unable to work, not because of a lack of interest or skill, but rather due to the very real fear of losing Medicaid.
In general, a person who receives Medicaid cannot receive an income in excess of approximately $900 per month and cannot have any more than $2000 in combined assets such as savings, investments, and retirement accounts. However, in some circumstances a person may be able to work and still maintain their benefits under a program known as NJ WorkAbility. This program allows full New Jersey Medicaid eligibility to people with disabilities who are working.
To be eligible for the NJ WorkAbility program the person with a disability must be between the ages of 16 and 64 and be disabled according to the Social Security Administration or the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services. The individual needs to work either full or part-time and can even be self-employed.
Although income and resource limits do still apply, they are much higher. For instance, an individual can earn approximately $55,000 per year through work and have no more than about $900 per month in “unearned” income through items such as pensions and interest on investments. Likewise, instead of the $2000 resource cap, an individual cannot have more than $20,000 in liquid assets, not including, IRAs, 401K’s, the value of a home used as a primary residence, or a car.
Not all individuals are able to qualify for this program. Nevertheless, more generous income and resource limits will open the door to employment to a greater number of individuals with disabilities.