MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans with disabilities were at the State Capitol Tuesday to say they are being forced into poverty because of their disability.
The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is asking state lawmakers to allow people with disabilities to control more of their care, increase housing assistance and keep more of their Social Security checks.
Minnesota currently requires people with disabilities to spend down their Social Security payments before getting state services that help them live independently.
Rick Seiler, who gets $1,000 a month in Social Security, must pay medical bills until he spends down to $760, which covers all his other expenses — including rent.
“$760 a month, and then pay all your bills with that,” Seiler said. “It’s impossible to do.”
In 2014, Seiler helped a stranded motorist on snowy Highway 169 and was struck by an oncoming vehicle. He suffered a brain injury and is now in a wheelchair.
“I lost everything. You know, mentally, physically, financially,” Seiler said. “All of that, you know, got destroyed and was gone.”
State Rep. Nick Zerwas, (R) Elk River, is sponsoring legislation to allow people with disabilities to keep more of their Social Security checks, which he says allows them to have more choices in their lives.
“So that at the end of the month, you’re not picking between prescription drugs and whether or not you can pay your electrical bill,” Zerwas said.
Seiler says he is struggling, but optimistic.
“It wrecked me, but there’s a future,” he said. “I can wake up from this.”