BILL: Allow People with Disabilities to Work Without Losing

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 01:55:07 -0700 (PDT)


http://www.endhomelessness.org/pol/alert60199.htm
FWD  National Alliance To End Homelessness - June 1, 1999

Bills Moving to Allow People with Disabilities
to Work Without Losing All Benefits

The bipartisan Work Incentives Improvement Act has moved forward in both the
House of Representatives and the Senate.  This bill would provide that people
who receive Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or SSI due to disability could
take jobs without losing all their medical coverage and cash benefits.

Alliance members who serve homeless and formerly homeless people with
disabilities often find that the SSI and Medicaid rules create a powerful
disincentive to seeking work.  The Work Incentives Improvement Act would
seek to remedy this situation.  Most people with disabilities want to work, but
few actually do, due to these rules.  Under current law, for example, working
over a certain amount per month normally leads the Social Security
Administration and the state Medicaid agency to conclude that the person is no
longer eligible for benefits.  If the person finds that work is impossible,
he or she must start over with a new disability application.

The bill would provide relief from these rules, through earned income
disregards
for SSI, state options to waive income and asset limits for Medicaid, and other
provisions.  It also contains various provisions designed to ensure that people
who experience new disabilities do not have to become indigent before they can
get help from the government.

The Senate bill is S. 331.  It has been reported favorably by the applicable
committee, and is awaiting floor action.  It's main sponsors are Senators James
Jeffords (R-VT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), William Roth (R-DE), and Daniel
Moynihan (D-NY).  Its cosponsors include over three-fourths of the members of
the Senate.  The bill was initially opposed by Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott
(R-MS) due to concerns about some provisions, leaving grave doubts about the
bill's future.  Just last Friday, however, the Washington Post reported that
Senator Lott and the bill's sponsors had reached an agreement and that he had
signaled satisfaction with the measure.

The House version is H.R. 1180, sponsored by Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY), with
169 cosponsors at last count.  It has been reported favorably by the House
Commerce Committee.  In the House, however, the bill must be reviewed by a
second committee, the Ways and Means Committee.  No action is currently
scheduled there, and the Republican leadership of that committee is reported to
support an entirely different bill dealing with the same subject matter.

For copies of the bills (the two bills were identical when first introduced
in the
House and Senate, but each has been amended since), go to the "Thomas" web
site at http://thomas.loc.gov, and enter either "S. 331" or "H.R. 1180" in the
"search by bill number" box at the top of the page, then press the "search"
button.

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