In Kansas, disability benefits are a waiting game with no winners

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – How long is too long to wait for help? That’s what a Kansas family wonders after learning they’ll be waiting 9.75 years to get services for their disabled daughter.

Megan Miller is a 37 year old disabled woman. She has a part-time job, friends and loves children. Currently, Megan lives with her parents, but she wants to live alone. She is waiting to enter a favorable living environment.

“I would like to be independent,” Miller told us, “to be on my own.”

But she will have to wait for this chance – and wait, and wait, and wait. There are 4,640 people on the waiting list ahead of her.

Megan Miller.(Submitted to KCTV5 News)

Megan’s parents know that one day she will have to make the transition. It’s a reality for parents of children with special needs: you need to plan ahead.

When the Millers asked for papers, they were starkly confronted with reality. They were told the waiting list was over nine years.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Sharon Miller, Megan’s mother.

“I thought I heard the number wrong,” Megan’s dad Mark Miller tells us.

Disability services are operated by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. We solicited comments and although they sent us a PowerPoint presentation, they did not make anyone available for an interview. We asked the governor’s office for a statement, but got no response.

Megan’s family was told that the waiting list was so long because there were years when the program was not fully funded. The PowerPoint presentation contains a plan for using new funds to find the problem.

The Millers suspect that many lawmakers aren’t even aware of the problem.

“We need to let our lawmakers know that’s not okay,” Sharon Miller said. “It’s time to talk.”

The family wants other parents with special needs to be aware of this situation and hopes that Kansas will do better to support people with disabilities.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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