Some people who are disabled receive a modest amount of Social Security Disability benefits and also receive Supplemental Security income (SSI). To be eligible for SSI, the total countable income in a given month must not exceed certain amounts that are set annually. If one receives at least a dollar of SSI, s/he can receive Medicaid for health insurance.
Effective January 1, 2015, the Social Security Administration gave a 1.7% increase in monthly benefit as a COLA (cost of living adjustment) . This increased income could put a person “over the top” and cause them to have income in excess of the limits for SSI. That could mean they’d lose their Medicaid benefit as well.
The State of New Jersey issued MedCom No. 15-01 (Medicaid Communication memo) on January 13th, 2015 which clarifies that such individuals will NOT lose their eligibility and the excess income due to a COLA increase is to be disregarded when determining continuing as well as initial eligibility. 15-01_SSI_Ineligibles_COLA_2015
This class of individuals is sometimes referred to as “Pickle People” because the original federal law protecting them from the unintended loss of SSI by a COLA increase in Social Security was an amendment sponsored by U.S. COngressman J.J. Pickle (D-Texas). https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501715015
This issue is of particular importance to people with special needs disabilities who participate in DDD programs and receive Social Security Disability benefits based on the earnings record of their retired or deceased parent along with their own SSI. Loss of SSI would otherwise result in loss of Medicaid and loss of eligibility for DDD services.
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