Working & Healthcare
AHCCCS Freedom to Work Explained
By Amina Donna Kruck
One of the least well known provisions of the Ticket to Work legislation is the AHCCCS Freedom to Work (FTW) program. This program allows a working Arizona resident with a disability, age 16 to 65, to maintain AHCCCS or Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) coverage. To qualify you must be a U.S. citizen or qualified immigrant; have a disability and be working; earning income and paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you’re on SSI, SSDI or already an ALTCS member, that is proof you have a disability. Otherwise you will have to go through a disability determination process to qualify.
FTW covers all the same services and durable medical equipment regular AHCCCS & ALTCS covers. It is known as a “Medicaid Buy-In” program because it requires the member to pay a small premium for the coverage. Premiums range from $0 to $35 per month.
How much can I earn and still qualify?
AHCCCS looks at countable monthly earned income after allowable deductions to determine financial eligibility. The countable income limit for FTW is $2,475.00 per month, but only about half of your earnings will be used as your monthly countable income. This works out to be about $4,950 per month gross earnings. Spousal income and unearned income, like SSDI, are not considered when determining eligibility. You can qualify while you’re in a SSDI Trial Work Period.
How do I apply?
You can apply online at: www.healthearizonaplus.gov. If you do not have internet access, contact the Freedom to Work Program at: 602-417-6677 (Maricopa County) 1-800-654-8713, Option 6 (Outside of Maricopa County)
Interested in learning how employment earnings affect your public benefits?
Go to www.az.db101.org or call 602-443-0720.
Amina Donna Kruck
VP of Advocacy, Ability360
Donna Kruck is the Vice President of Advocacy programs at Ability360. Kruck is a state Professional Licensed Counselor with a master’s of Counseling from Arizona State University.
Kruck supervises several programs, including the volunteer program which includes a 65-member peer mentor volunteer team, the This Is MY Life self-determination program for persons with developmental disabilities, the AZ Freedom to Work Program, Social Security Work Incentives Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach Program and Ability360’s Advocacy Program, which addresses individual issues and community/systems change.
As Vice President of Advocacy, Kruck creates programs which empower individuals with disabilities and their families through advocacy related workshops, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating wellness groups, providing technical assistance for the development of consumer-driven initiatives, and developing community partnerships to address barriers to consumer choice, equal rights and self-determination. Kruck also provides workshops on the legislative process, disability oppression, self-advocacy skills, and is a regular contributor to Ability360’s quarterly magazine, LivAbility.