CHARLOTTE, NC -- Getting a raise should be a good thing, right?
Not so for a Charlotte man who says his 3 percent increase may cost him his freedom and quality of life.
Twelve years ago, a single car accident here changed the life direction of Ty Williams.
“After the accident, I was in intensive care and realized that I was paralyzed below the waist," Williams said, who is now confined to a wheelchair.
But Williams' injuries were worse than he thought, he had both legs amputated below the knee and only has limited use of one hand.
Caregivers bring him meals and help him in and out of bed. He doesn’t ask for much and certainly didn’t ask for the 3 percent cost of living increase given to him by social security disability this year.
It’s known as a COLA, which stands for cost of living adjustment. Williams now makes $962.00 a month thanks to that raise, but that small raise also put him over the North Carolina Medicaid poverty cap by $11.00.
It means Ty will have to pay the state of North Carolina $700.00 a month to keep his in home care, remember, he only makes $962.00.
The left over is about $260, which Williams says “$260 a month to live on is not practical, it’s not only not practical, it’s not realistic.”
If he can’t pay that $700 a month deductable, Social Services says he’ll probably be placed in a long term care facility.
What does that mean?
It means no more living alone, no more independence, and he’d have to likely sell his van.
For Williams to keep his in-home benefits as they are, costs the state $2,236 a month, but to put him in a nursing home against his wish, will cost the state $6,510 a month, almost 3 times more. It’s all because he got a raise he didn’t even want, and can’t give back.
“And the rationale and the common sense and logic is just not there,” Williams said.
State Senator Ellie Kinnaird agrees. The Chapel Hill Senator has been fighting for years to fix this gap so that state benefits will keep pace with federal benefits.
“This is illogical, it’s harming these people, doesn’t make sense, so let’s change it, can’t be done," he said.
But after six years of fighting for it, Senator Kinnaird did change it with the help of Republicans. On January 1, 2013, a waiver will take effect and close the gap, but until then, Ty and about a thousand others like him in the state are stranded.
Williams said even though he has a disability, it does not define who he is, or what he is capable of offering an employer who is willing to offer this college educated man a job. The invitation is out.