Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities

Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HBWD) provides medical coverage for people with disabilities who work and earn up to 350% of the federal poverty level.

Who is Eligible

Persons who:

  • Are disabled according to the Social Security Administration definition of disability;
  • Are between the ages of 16 and 65;
  • Have countable monthly income of less than 350% of the federal poverty level (less than $3,404 for an individual; less than $6,956 for a family of four);
  • Are not eligible for the state’s regular medical program for people with disabilities;
  • Are residents of Illinois, citizens or eligible non-citizens, and have a Social Security number (SSN) or proof of application for a SSN; and 
  • Must have countable assets less than $25,000 (the value of the applicant’s home and one vehicle is exempted).

Why Apply

  • The Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities program provides comprehensive health coverage for doctor visits, prescription drugs, specialty services, hospital care, nursing home care, hospice, home health services, optometry, audiology, and mental health services.
  • Based on their income, beneficiaries of the program must pay a premium, which can range from $0 to $119/month.
  • Mandatory co-payments are affordable (e.g. $3.90 for doctor visits or brand prescriptions).
  • Meets the eligibility for the Medicare Part D Extra Help Program so that someone with HBWD and Medicare can get full cost-sharing help for prescription coverage.

To Apply For

  • People with disabilities can apply by calling toll free at 1-800-226-0768 (TTY: 1-866-675-8440).
  • Applicants can also download the application and complete it online, mail it, or bring it in person to a local Family Community Resource Center.

Read More

Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities is an Illinois Medicaid Buy-In program authorized under the federal Ticket to Work - Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA). Currently, several other states have some version of a Medicaid Buy-In program, allowing working individuals living with a disability to become insured with a medical card.

In Illinois, the HBWD program allows individuals with incomes up to 350% of the federal poverty level to pay a monthly premium based on their income to receive a Medical card.

Eligibility for Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities does not affect eligibility for Personal Care Assistants through the Department of Human Services home- and community-based waivers.

An individual may also apply for an HBWD card to cover medical bills for up to three (3) months prior to the month of application. To receive coverage for the prior months, an individual must pay premiums for the prior months. She may also have a co-pay for each doctor’s visit and prescriptions.

Disability advocates have long noted that returning to work is difficult for people with disabilities. Many fear that working means losing Medicaid healthcare coverage. Often, private insurance is difficult or impossible to obtain.

The goal of this program is to help people with disabilities work with full Medicaid healthcare benefits. HBWD not only encourages enrollees to work, but also encourages enrollees to increase the number of hours they are currently working. Just as the name suggests, the program provides health benefits for workers with disabilities.

Links to Important Resources

Learn more about Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (in Spanish).


Topics: Public Insurance Coverage, Work Incentives
Tags: Healthcare Coverage, Employment Supports, Disabled Workers
Last updated August 14, 2017

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Sponsored by

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  • Boston Medical Center