News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Friday, October 24, 2014

BDN Profiles Brewer Couple on How Benefit Systems Keep Disabled Impoverished

The Bangor Daily News recently ran an excellent article profiling a Brewer couple who explain how state and federal policies affected disabled people and how many policies keep people impoverished. The article -- 'Social Security is not the way to live': Maine couple talks growing older, living with disability -- is part of an interesting new BDN article series:
In this monthly series, the authors will introduce you to people who are apt to be your neighbors, are struggling to make ends meet and have been affected by specific state policies.
In the August edition of this series, Sandy Butler interviews an Claire El-Hajj and Lonnie El-Hajj. Claire has MS. Lonnie is a stroke survivor. Both went on SSDI in the 40s. The article details how lots of seemingly small things -- medication co-pays, wheelchair repair, a malfunctioning freezer -- add up to keep them in a constant state of financial stress and unpredictability. And how getting married severely adversely affected their livelihood:
Claire and Lonnie’s marriage has led to some loss of services for Lonnie. His Social Security Disability Insurance check is just over $800 per month....
Prior to his marriage to Claire, he was eligible for Medicaid (MaineCare), Section 8 housing and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. He also received some personal care assistance and help with transportation.
Lonnie and Claire’s combined annual income puts them just over the income limit to receive any means-tested benefits or services. They live together in the Brewer apartment Claire has lived in since she left her house.
The article ends with a reminder to readers to consider what effect privatizing Social Security would have on people such as the El-Hajjs. Read the complete article.

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