Millions of disabled Americans could lose federal benefits if they get married

For hundreds of thousands of Americans with disabilities, tying the knot can imply dropping federal blessings they rely on. Erika Mahoney of member station KAZU in Monterey, Calif., has the tale of 1 couple stuck in a loophole.

ERIKA MAHONEY, BYLINE: Five years ago, Lori Long’s boyfriend, Mark Contreras, were given down on one knee. The second captured on video.


LORI LONG: Yes, I’ll marry you. Yes, I’ll marry you. Yes. Yes.

MAHONEY: Long dreamed about finding love but wasn’t sure it would happen.

LONG: Especially for any individual like myself with a large incapacity and a spinal deformity, like I have.

MAHONEY: Long has an autoimmune disorder that outcomes in painful fractures in her spine. After the proposal, she commenced looking at wedding clothes.

LONG: Thinking approximately viable venues, searching at invitations.

MAHONEY: Then the nightmare hit. She learned marrying her fiance, who isn’t always disabled, would mean completely dropping her federal disability advantages and Medicare. Long and Contreras went from happiness to…

LONG: Heartbreak.

MARK CONTRERAS: Definitely unhappiness, but I didn’t need to lose or surrender on her.

MAHONEY: Long gets her fitness care through a Social Security application. Its complicated regulations, written a long time ago, expect the partner can cowl medical expenses. Long works component time in retail. Contreras works for a nonprofit, but his coverage would not cowl the whole thing Long desires. Her health care isn’t just a few trips to 香港婚姻介紹所推薦 the physician every 12 months however health center stays upwards of 50 grand in keeping with visit. Together, they decided it was a love tale well worth the combat.

JIMMY PANETTA: She inspires me, and she or he inspired me to jot down this bill.

MAHONEY: That’s Congressman Jimmy Panetta of California. Last month, he delivered the Marriage Equality for Disabled Adults Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. It would ensure that people like Long never should choose between fitness care or marriage.

PANETTA: We simply experience that’s an antiquated and borderline cruel law that need to be changed.

MAHONEY: Millions of Americans with disabilities face marriage consequences, a complete or partial lack of their federal advantages. There’s a separate bill within the Senate to give up the penalty for people on every other federal disability application. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio delivered that regulation.

SHERROD BROWN: It makes no feel from a common sense viewpoint. It makes no sense from a ethical perspective. It makes no feel from a non secular point of view.

LONG: It makes no feel in latest global, says incapacity rights advise Bethany Lilly.

BETHANY LILLY: I don’t assume, you understand, 50 years ago, human beings could be considering humans with disabilities getting married, while now that’s only a flawlessly ordinary expected part of lifestyles for a variety of humans.

MAHONEY: Lilly is with The Arc, a country wide incapacity enterprise based in Washington, D.C. She hears heartbreaking tales all the time.

LILLY: Generally speaking, I propose that humans speak to a attorney before they consider getting married. That’s an unfortunate function to place oldsters with disabilities into.

MAHONEY: And, says Lilly, the incorrect message to send.

LILLY: As a person with a disability and as any person who identifies as LGBTQ, for me, marriage method the recognition by means of society.

MAHONEY: For Lori Long, this Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder that her wedding has been on keep for 5 years.

LONG: Love could be very powerful, and I think whilst two humans are able to tap into that strength, then appearance out global due to the fact that sort of loving power is near unstoppable.

MAHONEY: She and her fiance are not giving up on pronouncing, I do.

For NPR News, I’m Erika Mahoney in Monterey.

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