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

Updated: Mar. 8, 2022 at 5:30 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - How long is too long to wait for help? That’s what a Kansas family is wondering after being told they’ll be waiting 9.75 years for services for their daughter with disabilities.

Megan Miller is a 37-year-old woman with disabilities. She has a part-time job, friends, and loves children. Right now, Megan lives with her parents, but she wants to live on her own. She’s waiting to get into a supporting living environment.

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

But she’ll have to wait for that chance—and wait, and wait, and wait. There are 4,640 people on the waiting list ahead of her.

Megan Miller.
Megan Miller.(Submitted to KCTV5 News)

Megan’s parents know that someday, she will have to transition. It’s a reality for parents of special needs children—you need to plan ahead.

When the Millers asked for paperwork, they got a brutal reality check. They were told that the waiting list was longer than nine years.

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

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

Services for people with disabilities are managed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. We reached out for comment and, while they did send us a PowerPoint presentation, they would not make anyone available for an interview. We asked the governor’s office for a statement but did not get a response.

Megan’s family was told that the wait list is so long because there were years when the program wasn’t fully funded. The PowerPoint presentation does contain a plan to use new funding to research the problem.

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

“We need to let our legislators know that this is not acceptable,” said Sharon Miller. “It’s time to speak up.”

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