Medicare Eligibility for the Disabled

October 14th, 2003

To the Editor,

Your editorial of 10/14/03 on a Social Security Disability case omitted another prominent “Catch 22” in SSD protocols. One must be disabled for a full two years before receiving Medicare. This means that shortly after one becomes so seriously ill that working becomes impossible by SSD standards, one still must find the means to pay for private insurance (e.g. COBRA policies), assuming one was lucky enough to have it.

If one lacks sufficient income to do so (my COBRA policy ran over $300 per month), one must look to medicaid. Qualification for that program likely will not be met until the end of those two years after savings accounts are exhausted in the fight to regain health. ? Newly disabled persons often do without insurance and health care at a point when one’s chances to regain health are highest. No one expects to be unemployable at an early age so planning for such a contingency is difficult to say the least.

When disability is so blatant that a first application for SSDI is approved (approximately 30% of applicants), some assistance with medical bills is essential. In this time when entitlement programs are being gutted by budget deficits and government “borrowing” from our “national insurance” funds, this terrible burden upon people in trouble seems insurmountable.

In the meantime, people on COBRA should know that an 18 month limit upon COBRA can be extended up to the time one is eligible for medicare if one qualifies for SSDI. Contact your insurer for those details…if you are lucky enough to be able to afford that policy.

Categories: NY Times

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