How Health Benefits Work

Freedom to Work

Look at Freedom to Work if:

  • You are 16-64 years old
  • You have a disability
  • You work
  • You have limited resources, and
  • You are a citizen or eligible immigrant.

Is Michigan's Freedom to Work Medicaid Right for You?

Medicaid is government-funded health coverage for people in certain situations. You may qualify if you:

Answer the questions on this page to see if you might qualify for Freedom to Work. If so, it’s a good option to consider because it lets you earn a lot more money and pay a monthly premium, low copayments and no deductible to get Medicaid’s comprehensive coverage.

Do You Meet Freedom to Work’s Basic Requirements?

To qualify for Freedom to Work, you must:

  • Live in Michigan
  • Be 16 – 64 years old
  • Be working, and
  • Be a U.S. citizen or meet specific noncitizen requirements.

If you live in Michigan, are 1664 years old, working, and are either a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen who qualifies, Freedom to Work might be an option for you.

Medicaid’s rules for immigrants:

  • Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for full Medicaid coverage, but they may qualify for Medicaid coverage for emergency services.
  • Most immigrants who have been lawfully present for less than five years do not qualify for full Medicaid coverage. However, they may qualify for private coverage subsidized by the government.
  • Immigrants who have been lawfully present for five years or longer and some other noncitizens who meet specific noncitizen requirements qualify for the same programs that U.S. citizens can get.

Do You Have a Disability That Meets Social Security’s Standards?

To qualify for Freedom to Work, you must have a disability that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. For adults, Social Security says you have a disability if:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments, and
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months.

Note: For Freedom to Work, Social Security’s disability rules related to earned income do not apply.

If you currently get disability benefits, like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you already meet Social Security’s disability standards. If not, Michigan's Disability Determination Service (DDS) checks to see if your disability qualifies for Freedom to Work.

If you already have a disability determination from Social Security or think that your disability meets Social Security’s standards, Freedom to Work might be an option for you.

Do You Have Low Resources?

Resources are money and property you own. For Freedom to Work:

  • When you apply, you must have less than $9,430 in resources.
  • After Freedom to Work coverage starts, you can have up to $75,000 in resources.

Some resources don’t count towards Freedom to Work’s resource limit, like the money you have in an ABLE account, the home you live in, and one car. Additionally, once coverage starts, money you put in a retirement account while you are working does not count towards the $75,000 limit.

If your resources are below the limit, Freedom to Work might be an option for you.

Is Your Income Below Freedom to Work’s Income Limit?

Freedom to Work is designed so that if you have a disability, you can work without worrying that you’ll lose your Medicaid health coverage.

When you apply for Freedom to Work, you must have countable income at or below $3,138 per month. Your countable income includes most of your unearned income and less than half of your earned income. Because of this, you could work and make a lot more than the $3,138 limit and still qualify, depending on your unearned income.

Once you are covered by Freedom to Work, your unearned income must stay at $3,138 per month or less, but it doesn't matter how much you earn, as long as you have some earned income. You can get a great job and still have Freedom to Work coverage.

Note: Only your income is counted, not the income of other household members.

If your income is low enough and you meet all other requirements, you should sign up for Freedom to Work, after making sure it is better than any employer-sponsored coverage you could get.

Freedom to Work’s monthly premium

You have to pay a monthly premium to get Freedom to Work coverage in any month where your income is higher than $1,732 (if you are single). The more income you have, the higher your premium. To learn how much your premium might be, try DB101's Freedom to Work Estimator.


Freddy has no unearned income and makes $5,960 per month at his job. He makes way too much money for Medicaid, so his county worker tells him to apply for Freedom to Work.

When the county reviews his application, it says Freddy only has $2,938 in countable income, so he easily qualifies for Freedom to Work. He has to pay a monthly premium, but it’s less than he’d have to pay for private insurance.

How to Sign Up

You can apply for Freedom to Work:

Note: With MIBridges, you can apply for the Food Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps), the Family Independence Program (FIP), and other benefits at the same time as you apply for Medicaid.

For help with your application, visit or call your local county human services agency or call the Medicaid Beneficiary Help Line at 1-800-642-3195 or 1-866-501-5656 (TTY). Tip: If your county human services agency doesn't know about Freedom to Work, mention Section 174 of the BEM manual.

Staying on Freedom to Work

Usually, once approved for Freedom to Work, you continue to qualify as long as your situation doesn’t change. If your income, immigration status, residency, or household size changes, let your county human services agency know within 10 days of the change. You can do this in person, by phone, or by email. When you report your changes, the county tells you if you continue to get Freedom to Work and if your premium will change.

Learn more