I am an older disabled student who is returning to graduate school to earn my Master in Social Work. I was concerned about how federally guaranteed student loans might affect my eligibility for Medicaid and SSI.
As you know there is an income limit before you loose both your Medicaid and ssi/ssdi assistance. Medicaid is critical for my health and ability to continue my education and move towards meaningful and independent living.
It took a while for a very patient supervisor over the phone at SSA to discover the regulation (POMS) and actual piece of legislation:
POMS Section SI 00830.455
Soc. Sec. Act as amended, Section 1612(b)(7); P.L. 108-203, § 435; 20 CFR §
B. Policy – Assistance Under Title IV of the
Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) or
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
This accounts for various sorts of grants, loans and other educational sources of income and how they are counted as assets. What I was concerned about was how SSA would view an influx of money from federal loans. Life in graduate school is contingent upon such loans. Not being able to accept them would prevent attendance.
There was a great deal of confusion until this was found. Afterwards, there was agreement with five supervisors over several weeks. I called at different dates to be very sure. These loans are not countable as income. Other grants are but one has up to 9 months to utilize the grants. Interest generally does not count as income.
I am very grateful to the dedicated individuals at SSA who took the time to find the correct answers. Many of the junior staff have never had a question like this. They were surprised by the answer as it was so rarely asked. It took several senior supervisors to find the POMS, legislation and general guidance.
One thing that surprised me is that the disability officers at Universities are largely unaware of such regulations and how it may impact a student. It would be a good thing for them to be generally alerted and have access to a SSA agent that could speak with a student and explain their options.