WEST CHESTER – Thanks to the work of Senator Carolyn Comitta, Chester County’s disability rights activist Jessica Keogh, and many other organizations and lawyers around the world, a major law was recently passed to assist workers with disabilities in finding and promoting their jobs Career signs Commonwealth.
Law 69 of 2021 (Senate Law 156) increases the wage supplement for workers with disabilities who are dependent on the Medical Aid for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program. MAWD pays for vital home and community services such as nursing staff that are not covered by private insurance.
Currently, MAWD services are only available to people with disabilities with incomes less than 250% of the state poverty line and less than $ 10,000 in savings.
Act 69 creates a new category under MAWD called Workers with Job Success that raises that ceiling to 600% of the federal poverty line (approximately $ 75,000 annually) and allows individuals to amass more than $ 10,000 in countable assets since their original eligibility.
Under the new law, workers with disabilities who have qualified for MAWD will continue to pay a monthly premium for their services. Those earning more than 250% of the federal poverty line will pay 7.5% of their income to cover their health care (a 2.5% increase from current contribution) rather than forfeiting their eligibility entirely.
Comitta, who serves on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, recognized the persistent efforts of Keogh, who runs the nonprofit Faith Above My Ability, and other disability rights advocates who drove the bill across the finish line.
Senate Bill 156, introduced by Senator Bob Mensch, passed the Senate unanimously in May. It was briefly adjourned in the House of Representatives Committee on Budgets before being unanimously approved in late June.
“This week we celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but there is still so much work to be done to ensure fairness, justice and equal opportunities for our friends and neighbors with disabilities,” Comitta said. “People with disabilities shouldn’t have to choose between the services they need and a raise or promotion. Everyone should have the right to fully pursue their professional goals. Many thanks to Jessica and all advocates and organizations who have worked to make it a reality. “
Comitta said she hoped the new law would encourage more people to consider job opportunities or return to work without fear of losing important benefits. In Pennsylvania, only 35% of people with disabilities work and only 21% work full-time.
Keogh thanked Senator Comitta for her work and reflected on her extensive efforts to advocate and lobby for the new law.
“It was quite a road to campaigning for Senate Bill 156, and as a professional with a physical disability, I am so grateful for this legislation! Senate Bill 156, now Law 69, allows me to continue working as a special education teacher while getting the home and community support I need to get to work, ”she said. “Everyone deserves to work and contribute to society, and I am glad that my students have a disability council. Special thanks go to Senator Comitta for her support over the years as we stand up for and advocate the rights of people with disabilities! “
Law 69 was enacted by the governor on July 1st. It comes into force on December 28, 2021.
Keogh said she hopes to hold an educational event for people with disabilities on Law 69 and changes to MAWD.
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