Jersey Democrat bill to expand NJ Workability Program passes vote

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TRENTON, NJ - APRIL 5, 2018: New Jersey state capitol building in Trenton

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would revise the eligibility requirements for the NJ Workability Program and the Personal Assistance Services Program was passed by the Senate today.

“This bill revises the eligibility requirements of these programs that are deeming many individuals who would greatly benefit from their offerings ineligible,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Increasing the income limit for the NJ Workability program and removing the age cap for the State’s Personal Assistance Services Program would provide life-enhancing benefits and services to many of our residents, fulfilling the purpose of these programs to a greater extent.”

The bill, S-3455, would expand the eligibility for the NJ Workability Program in various ways. First, the bill would remove the upper age limit for eligibility, provided that any individual who is older than 16 may qualify. (The current age requirement is between 16 and 65 years of age.) Second, the bill would require that the premium contribution be based solely on the applicant’s earned and unearned income; the income of the applicant’s spouse could not be considered.

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“NJ Workability and the Personal Assistance Service Program protect and assist residents with disabilities, ensuring that they receive full Medicaid coverage, while remaining active members of their communities. Regardless of physical or mental ability, healthcare and proper services should be accessible. This bill, which expands the reach of the benefits, maintains accessibility for all who need it,” said Senator Sweeney (D- Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Someone’s age and income should not automatically exclude them from necessary benefits. I’m proud of our legislation to expand eligibility. There are many people that need these services day-to-day and can continue to receive them.”

Third, the bill would eliminate the program’s existing income eligibility limit of 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Finally, the bill would permit an eligible applicant for the program to remain eligible for Medicaid for up to one year if, through no fault of the applicant, a job loss occurred.

In addition, the bill would remove the age cap for eligibility for the State’s Personal Assistance Services Program. Currently, only individuals 18 through 70 years of age can qualify for this program. Under the bill, anyone over the age of 18 would be eligible for these services.

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The NJ Workability Program offers people with disabilities who are working part-time or full-time, and whose income would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid, the opportunity to receive full Medicaid coverage.

The Personal Assistance Service Program is a state-funded program that provides up to 40 hours per week of non-medical personal care assistance to those individuals with permanent physical disabilities who work, seek educational advancement, participate in vocational training, or volunteer in the community for a minimum of 20 hours per month.

The bill was passed by a vote of 36-0.