With budget cuts galore, these are tough times for the disabled, many of us having less income than we might like. With this in mind, it’s important to save a buck or two wherever and whenever possible. Programs like the Homestead Refund and LIEAP (The Kansas Low Income Energy Assistance Program) are designed to assist people like us. Can these programs help you save some money? What are they?
First let’s talk about the Homestead Refund. What is the Homestead Refund? The Homestead Refund is a rebate of a portion of the property taxes paid on a Kansas resident’s homestead. A person’s refund percentage is based on their total household income. The refund is a percentage of a person’s general property tax excluding specials. Tax on property valued at more than $350,000 does not qualify. The maximum refund is $700. Filers eligible for the Kansas Property Tax Relief claim receive 75 percent of their property tax with no minimum limit. Individuals are only eligible for one claim.
“You have to be a homeowner to be eligible for the program,” explains SKIL volunteer Independent Living Coordinator (ILC) Judy Blunk. “If you are renting you would not be eligible.”
According to Blunk, people who are interested can file now. Applications must be in before April 1st. “It would be best to go ahead and get it done as soon as possible,” says Blunk. “I am assisting people with their filing already.”
Anyone who is seeking help filing for the Homestead Refund or has questions about their eligibility can contact the Parsons SKIL office at (620) 421-5502 and ask for an independent living coordinator. “Any one of the coordinators will be more than happy to assist you,” says Blunk.
So, how long does the application process take? “If they have all the paperwork right there in front of them, it wouldn’t take but a few minutes,” says Blunk. “If the person doesn’t have their paperwork with them, it might take about thirty minutes to complete the application.”
LIEAP is another valuable option for Kansas residents. This is a federally funded program that provides energy assistance to low-income families in the state of Kansas. Through this program, the state of Kansas has been able to ensure that no household lacks heating facilities and fuel especially in the cold winter season. Benefits of the program are provided based on the household size, household income, type of dwellings, and type of fuel used by the particular household.
“The program helps pay a person’s electric or gas bill,” Blunk says. “They can have it split in half to pay towards both of them, or they can have all the money put into one.”
SKIL also assists people with filing for LIEAP and the determination of eligibility. Blunk says she can assist people living near the Columbus area. She can be contacted at (620) 429-3600. She says the independent living coordinators in Parsons can also assist. That number again is (620) 421-5502.
• What is a Client Obligation (CO)?
Client Obligation is your premium for your Medicaid Insurance. The CO is paid to one or more of your providers each month if you have HCBS services. You have to pay you CO when your monthly income is more than the State allows for protected income.
• How do I know if I have a CO?
The State determines whether you have a CO, based on your income and the State’s income guidelines. The Kansas Department of Health & Environment will send you a letter indicating the amount you must pay monthly for your CO.
• How do I know which of my providers to pay?
Depending on your Managed Care Organization (MCO), it could be located on your Integrated Service Plan. If it’s not, you can ask your MCO Care Manager or contact your payroll provider and ask them.
• Do I have a choice of which provider will receive my CO?
Yes, as long as the provider is not an excluded type of provider. If you would like to change which provider will receive your CO, please contact your MCO Care Manager.
• What if I don’t have a CO, and receive a letter from the State that now I do?
This usually means your monthly income is now more than the State limit. You need to pay the amount of the CO that is in the letter from Kansas Department of Health & Environment.
• How can I reduce the amount of my CO?
There are certain medical and other expenses that you can submit to the State to have your CO reduced. To find out what these are and how to submit them, call the Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) Clearinghouse. The number is listed below.
• Who do I call if I have questions about the amount of my CO?
You should call the KDHE Clearinghouse at 1-800-792-4884.
Kansas is requesting to extend its "KanCare" demonstration for another 5 years that implements statewide mandatory Medicaid managed care through section 1115 authority. The state is proposing program changes with the goal of helping Kansans achieve healthier, more independent lives by coordinating services and supports for social determinants of health and independence in addition to traditional Medicaid benefits. Social determinants of health are conditions in the environment in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. The state intends to demonstrate that by addressing social determinants of independence in conjunction with social determinants of health, it accelerates an individual’s path to higher levels of independence and attainment of their vision for a good life. The federal public comment period will be opened from December 28, 2017 through January 27, 2018.
On this week's "Resource Central," Joe and Andy talk to Independence Independent Living Coordinator (ILC) Mary Laskowski about the importance of community outreach.