Advocates for Iowans with disabilities push for higher income limits

DES MOINES — Iowa lawmakers are being asked to make changes to the income laws for people with disabilities. Disabilities advocates are holding an event at the Statehouse today in support of the so-called  “Work Without Worry” bill which would raise the income limit and eliminate the asset ceiling for people with disabilities – allowing them to remain eligible for federal benefits.

34-year-old Ben Grauer is quadriplegic and works at the University of Iowa. He says the measure would open the door to more employment for the 12,000 Iowans with disabilities who rely on Medicaid benefits. “Yeah, it’s hugely important,” said Grauer. “Iowans with disabilities, myself included, want to work and are capable of working and contributing to society, and growing Iowa’s economic base and contributing to the tax base.”

Grauer says the current $51,000 income limit for a family discourages work for people with disabilities, who want jobs but need to retain their benefits as well.  

The bill would decouple the family and individual income limits, meaning an individual’s income could be counted separately and not factor into the family total. It would also remove the current $13,000 asset limit for a family to qualify for benefits. Grauer says that would allow families to make better financial plans. “That’s certainly not very high,” said Grauer. “And if we’re thinking about wanting to save for your future or save for a vehicle or save for a house – which requires a large down payment – a couple certainly can’t make that down payment based on an allowable asset limit of $13,000.”

The bill would increase the allowable individual asset limit and boost the family limit to 450% of the Federal Poverty Level.