Schaer Bill to Increase Personal Needs Allowance under Medicaid, SSI For Veterans Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic) to ensure that veterans on Medicaid and living in a facility, such as a nursing home or developmental center, have enough money to purchase personal items was released out of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday.

The bill (A-1056) increases the personal needs allowance for veterans and their spouses who are recipients of Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and reside in a nursing home or developmental center, or are patients in a psychiatric hospital. The allowance is used to purchase personal items, such as clothing, grooming aids, newspapers, and other items not regularly provided by the facility in which they reside.

“This allowance has stayed the same for years while the cost of living in this state has not,” Schaer said. “This is an opportunity to help veterans continue to provide for themselves and their families in a changing economy. Requiring cost-of-living adjustments on the allowance is extremely important. New Jersey veterans will not have to wait for another increase in the future.”

For Medicaid recipients who are veterans or the spouses of veterans, the monthly personal needs allowance would be increased from $35 to $50. For recipients of SSI who are veterans or the spouses of veterans, the monthly personal needs allowance would be increased from $40 to $50. The bill further provides that these amounts will be increased annually, on January 1 of each year, by the same percentage as the cost-of-living adjustment for Social security benefits that year.

In the case of SSI recipients, the bill provides that the Commissioner of Human Services shall administer the $10 increase. The bill also directs the Commissioner of Human Services to apply to the federal government for such Medicaid state plan amendments as may be necessary to increase the personal needs allowance for Medicaid recipients, and to seek federal government approval for the commissioner’s administrative plan to implement the increase for SSI recipients. The respective increases provided for in the bill will not be operative until such time as the commissioner receives federal approval for the Medicaid State plan amendment and the commissioner’s SSI administrative plan.

“Our veterans deserve this extra boost,” Schaer said. “It’s the least we can do for those who have defended our country.”