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United Way’s #IWantToWork Working with Benefits Video Part 2

United Way’s #IWantToWork Working with Benefits Video Part 2


Hi everyone. Dr. Josie Badger from United Way’s #IWantToWork Campaign and today I am here with Joy Smith from AHEDD. on our previous video we talked about benefits counseling, why it’s important and how you can get a hold of benefits counseling. Today we’re going to talk more about what is the purpose of benefits counseling, why it’s important to you and what are work incentives. So, Joy, what are work incentives? So work incentives are programs with the Social Security Administration and Medical Assistance programs have had for many, many years. A lot of people do not know these exist what they mean, how to access them so that is what a benefits counselor can help you with- is first of all understanding what work incentives you’re eligible for and how to follow through with the Social Security Administration and or in Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services to access these. First of all, you have to know there’s two different types of Social Security programs for a person with a disability: there’s SSI and there’s SSDI. The difference between the two is SSDI is for a person that worked and paid into the system then if they apply for social security benefits they would be eligible for SSDI. A child can also receive SSDI off of one of their parents work records. SSI is for a person that did not work, did not pay enough in or for a variety of reasons, cannot access it off of their parents work records. So you see even that little example there description gets complicated so when you go down even further into what’s going to happen to my benefits when I go to work it gets to be very complex for individuals. As benefits counselors we’re here to help you understand what you need to know for your specific situation. For example, sometimes individuals call and discuss things with us and they say, Well I understand about the cash benefits, but my real concern is my medical insurance because you know, I take x amount of prescriptions per month, I need to see the doctor on a regular basis for some individuals that have waiver funding these are critical questions to be asked. So what we can do as a benefits counselor is give you some information on the general work incentive related to Medical Assistance and working, such as MAWD, which is Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities We also will refer individuals over to Pennsylvania Health Law Project they’re a great agency that can work with you on specifics related to work incentives and Medical Assistance and going to work. As far as what a benefits counselor can do is when we first meet with a person and go through their specific situation, we can talk about about a lot of different things and sometimes that gets overwhelming. I know for myself you kinda, you want to talk about this for about 45 minutes to an hour then after that it’s too much. So we can break this up as far as what the person needs. So if you’re a transition age youth and you just have some general questions about you know you’re in the planning stages for working and those type a things, we’re going to talk about those in general terms and then you know, we’ll open up a case for you and provide you with more detailed information in your report, but what we also tell transition age youth is to you know, contact us back, whenever they are actively lookng for work or they have a job and then we can take those general things that we talked about and make it more specific based on their job that they’re doing, that they’re getting paid $800 a month for. So everyone’s work incentives are a little bit different. One of the work incentives I would like to discuss is something called a Student Earned Income Exclusion. Josie, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that? Probably. But it is a great work incentive for individuals who are on SSI and basically what it does is allow you to work while you’re in high school or in college anything from the age of 14 through 22 basically you can go to work and still keep you full SSI cash benefit as long as you’re a student. Like I said, this is a great work incentive. Unfortunately, it’s not used as much as it should be because you actually have to ask the Social Security Administration to utilize this work incentive. It is relatively easy to get approved though, and request. Basically what you have to do is you would need to submit a letter from your high school or college saying that you’re an active student for this academic year along with your pay stubs each month to the Social Security Administration and once you do that and Social Security says, Oh OK, John’s still in high school but he’s out there working, he got a little part time job, let’s see how it goes, see how he likes working and the job itself, we’re not going do anything with his SSI benefit, they’re going remain exactly the same while he tries this job out. Also with that same vein is his Medical Assistance, so a lot of parents talk to me and say, it’s great he’s out there working but he needs his medical insurance because of his needs and while you’re using that Student Earned Income Exclusion medical insurance stays exactly the same. There’s nothing changed with it, co-pays do not or anything like that. So that’s a great work incentive for a lot of our students you know to try out jobs, to see how it goes in high school and you don’t have to worry about what’s going to go on with the SSI cash payment. Switching gears a little bit, on SSDI, one of the work incentives I’ll mention is something called the Trial Work Period. Trial Work Period is basically 9 months where Social Security says to you, hey go to work make as much money you’d like and you still retain your full Social Security cash benefit..This is critical for individuals because if you’ve been on SSDI even for a year or a few years, you haven’t worked for a while, so you’re not sure how things are going to go when you return to the workforce so this trial work period basically gives you that 9 months to say hey go and try it see how it goes you’re not going to lose anything related to your SSDI at that point. Excellent. I think this is important for so many of us who are considering really want a job but we’re really afraid we’re going to lose our benefits and we’re not even sure if we can work. So between working as a student and trial work periods, those are really important opportunities to see if we’re able to work and to also not jeopardize our support. So on our next video, we’re going to talk a little bit more about SSI and what that means for individuals working. Thanks for joining us. This is Josie Badger and Joy Smith

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