Accessing Healthcare and Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits in Arizona

Q. If applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, can I also qualify for health care coverage?

The first thing a worker who becomes disabled and unable to work worries about is paying the bills without a paycheck. That’s why disabled workers should immediately seek counsel from a Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits attorney and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits. Don’t delay, because the process takes several months at best.

How does a disabled worker qualify for SSDI benefits?

Basically, SSDI is available to workers under the age of 65 who have worked and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes for a minimum specified number of hours and years and who satisfy the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled”. It is based on the worker’s income, not need, but is designed to cover basic living expenses, not a full replacement of lost income.

Next, a disabled worker may worry about loss of health coverage.

If you are collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits in Arizona, the good news is that you automatically qualify for Medicare.  But the bad news is you have to wait 29 months–almost 3 years –from the onset of your disability in order to become Medicare eligible. This date is generally two years after receipt of your first SSDI benefits check.

What is a disabled worker without health insurance to do for health care coverage during that 2 year+ period?

Well, there is some interim good news as well.

Arizona has its own Medicaid program called AHCCCS which can “act a bridge to Medicare” because it helps pay medical expenses for qualified disabled people with low enough incomes during that 29-month waiting period for Medicare to kick in.

Once you’re on SSDI and Medicare, you might qualify for AHCCCS under disability rather than “income-only” rules if you have little or no other income besides your SSDI benefits and “if your monthly SSDI cash benefit is less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines ($1005 per month for an individual, $1353 for a couple)”. AHCCCS may also be available to those who are collecting SSDI and also working through AHCCCS Freedom to Work.

If you live in Arizona and need assistance applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), the Social Security disability law experts at Roeschke Law can help you at any phase of the application or appeals process.

Call us at 800-975-1866 for a free consultation. From our offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we represent clients in all areas of disability law throughout the state of Arizona.