LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Some Arkansans still fear getting a medical marijuana I.D. card could impact their social security benefits. Arkansas is accepting applications for medical marijuana for patients, growers, and distributors. But how will the program work? How will the program affect social security benefits?
Chronic pain has taken a toll on Darlene Williams. "I have knots in my neck and it goes up to my head. I get bad migraines and I have peripheral neuropathy which means my arms and my legs hurt, my feet burn," she said.
Williams has had multiple surgeries over the years and takes five medications daily. While she found a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana to ease her pain, Williams is worried her social security disability benefits will be affected if she became a cardholder. “I'm afraid they're going to cut me off," Williams explained.
Laree Treece is Williams sister-in-law. Treece shared the same concern, as she plans to register for an I.D. card as well. She suffers from fibromyalgia and polycythemia and relies heavily on her social security benefits. She doesn’t receive a lot because she’s unable to work a lot.
"They can take the monetary, it's my medical benefits that are important to me because I don't have any other insurance," Treece said to THV11. "What little bit of help I get it's only twelve visits a year but those twelve visits mean an awful lot to cancer patients.”
Concerns over SSI benefits have come up often on our THV11 Facebook page, so we sought to get answers from the Social Security Administration Public Affairs office in Dallas. Spokeswoman, Sarah-Schultz Lackey released this statement:
"Nothing in the Social Security Act or our regulations prevents a person with a medical marijuana license from receiving Social Security benefits or SSI payments. We would stop an individual's Social Security benefits, however, if he or she is convicted of a criminal offense (perhaps for the sale or possession of marijuana) and is then placed in a correctional institution for over 30 continuous days. Also, we would stop an individual's SSI payments when the individual is confined in a public institution, such as a jail or prison, for a full calendar month.”
The Public Affairs office said before they stop Social Security or SSI benefits, they will first notify the individual that they intend to stop his or her benefits and allow time for the individual to protest the proposed suspension action.
All this week THV11 will be answering your questions concerning medical marijuana in the state. You can email those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org