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SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability Benefits Work for You! Karla Bell, Program Manager CHIIP/SDSU Interwork Institute SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability.

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Presentation on theme: "SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability Benefits Work for You! Karla Bell, Program Manager CHIIP/SDSU Interwork Institute SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability."— Presentation transcript:

1 SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability Benefits Work for You! Karla Bell, Program Manager CHIIP/SDSU Interwork Institute SSI Work Incentives: Make Disability Benefits Work for You!

2 To use the Captioning window: Click the Window pulldown menu and select Show Closed Captioning A Captioning window will appear at the bottom of your screen You may resize and move this window to meet your viewing needs Asking Questions: The presenter will take your questions at the end of the presentation using the Chat window We will provide links to the CRC quiz and survey at the end of the Webinar Getting Started

3 Overview Myths about SSI and Work Social Security Disability Benefits Overview How earned income affects SSI Ways to maximize SSI benefits Keeping Medi-Cal and IHSS while working Tools and Resources for benefits and employment planning

4 Myths If I go back to work: Ill lose my cash benefits Ill lose my Medi-Cal and IHSS If my disability worsens and I cant continue to work, I wont be able to get back on benefits

5 Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Title II Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Title XVI Must meet SSA disability criteria Insurance ProgramNeeds Based FICA contributions/work history Resource Limits: $2,000 for individual; $3,000 for couple Paid from Title II Trust FundPaid from tax fund 5 month waiting periodNo waiting period Monthly payment depends on average lifetime earnings Payment fluctuates with income, state supplements, etc Medicare: 2 year waiting period Medicaid (Medi-Cal): Immediate eligibility SSI? SSDI? Whats What?

6 2012 California SSI payment rates 2012 California SSI Monthly Payment Rates $ (Individual-own household) $ (Individual-household of another) $ (Individual-no cooking facilities) $ (Blind individual) $ (Blind-household of another) $ (Couple) $ (Blind Couple) Rates effective January 2012 SSI Resource Limit: $2000 (individual) $3000 (couple)

7 How do I find out what benefits I receive? Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) A brief report with details about your SSI and/or SSDI benefits, health coverage and work and earnings history Request from your local Social Security Office Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at: (voice); (TTY) Learn more about the BPQY on Disability Benefits 101: A Community Work Incentives Coordinator (WIPA projects) will request a BPQY for you as part of benefits counseling

8 SSI Work Incentives Going to work can increase overall income Your SSI payment amount is adjusted when a person has other sources of income (earnings, SSDI, etc.) Work Incentives allow income to be excluded in order to maximize the SSI amount when a person is returning to work To use most work incentives: Tell Social Security that you have gone to work or Report changes in your earnings Some work incentives require you to ask Social Security to determine if you can use them

9 How Earnings Affect SSI Payments Social Security counts less than half of your earned income Social Security uses gross earnings (before taxes) to decide how much to subtract from SSI check The first $85 of earnings is not counted ($20 General Income Exclusion and $65 Earned Income Exclusion) After subtracting these amounts from gross earnings, Social Security divides the remaining earnings by two The remainder, called countable income, is then subtracted from the amount of the original SSI check The amount left over is the persons adjusted SSI payment

10 Step One: $885.00Gross Monthly Earnings from Work -$20.00General Income Exclusion -$65.00Earned Income Exclusion ÷2 =$400.00Countable Earned Income Step Two: $854.40SSI Payment (California 2012 rate) -$400.00Countable Earned Income =$454.40Adjusted SSI Payment While Working How Amount of Adjusted SSI Check is calculated:

11 $885.00Gross Monthly Earnings from Work +$454.40Adjusted SSI Payment =$ Total Spendable Monthly Income Available Income Compared to $854.40/month without income from work

12 Using Work Incentives to Maximize Benefits Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) Blind Work Expenses (BWEs) Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

13 Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE) Documented expenses for services or items that are related to one's disability, needed in order to work and are paid out of pocket and not reimbursed The cost may be pro-rated over a 12-month period for nonrecurring expenses Examples: Personal assistance services Assistive Technology Prescription drug co-payments Costs related to service animals Supplements or expendable medical supplies No fixed list-negotiate IRWEs with Social Security

14 Example: IRWE and SSI Jack is 24 years old and lives in his own apartment He receives $854.40/month from SSI He begins a new job that pays him $1000 in gross monthly earnings He has a physical disability and he cannot use available public transportation and cannot drive himself He pays a driver to transport him to his job He also pays out of pocket for medical supplies and supplements These services and items cost him $300/month and qualify as IRWEs

15 Step One: $ Gross Monthly Earnings from Work -$85.00General & Earned Income Exclusions -$300.00IRWEs -$615.00Remaining Earnings Step Two: $615.00Remaining Earnings ÷2 =$307.50Countable Earned Income How Jacks Adjusted SSI Check is calculated:

16 Step Three: $854.40SSI Payment (California 2012 rate) -$307.50Countable Earned Income =$546.90Adjusted SSI Payment While Working Step Four: $546.90Adjusted SSI Payment Work Earnings -$300.00IRWE =$ Total Available Income How Jacks Adjusted SSI Check is calculated:

17 Blind Work Expenses (BWE) For SSI beneficiaries whose primary diagnosis is blindness Allows the exclusion of any work related items that are paid out of pocket and not reimbursed BWEs do not need to be related to blindness or any impairment Examples: Service animal expenses, fees, State, Federal & local taxes, visual & sensory aids, driver services, transportation to and from work, childcare, meals consumed at work, union dues, uniforms, reader services, vehicle modification, mandatory pension contributions, training to use an impairment-related item, translation of materials into Braille

18 Example: BWE and SSI Jill is 30 years old, blind and lives in her own apartment She receives $909.40/month from SSI She begins a new job that pays her $1800 in gross monthly earnings She can deduct the cost of transportation to work regardless of whether her blindness required any specialized arrangement Costs related to blindness are also included so she can deduct expenses for adaptive computer software or service dog expenses She also can deduct income taxes, union dues and meals at work Her expenses cost her $500/month and qualify as BWEs

19 Step One: $ Gross Monthly Earnings from Work -$85.00General & Earned Income Exclusions ÷2 $857.50Remaining Earnings Step Two: $857.50Remaining Earnings -$500.00BWE =$357.50Countable Earned Income How Jills Adjusted SSI Check is calculated:

20 Step Three: $909.40SSI Payment (California 2012 rate) -$357.50Countable Earned Income =$551.90Adjusted SSI Payment While Working Step Four: $551.90Adjusted SSI Payment Work Earnings -$500.00BWE =$ Total Available Income How Jills Adjusted SSI Check is calculated:

21 IRWE & BWE All Blind and Impairment Related Work Expenses must be verified by your local Social Security field office Provide them with original receipts or canceled checks of the expenses Social Security will determine if the expense may be deducted Request in writing in order to use appeal rights (if necessary)

22 Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) SEIE allows young people who are in school to test their ability to work without any reduction in their SSI check For SSI recipients under the age of 22 and regularly attending school, college or training to prepare for a paying job Social Security can exclude up to $1640 of earned income per month from the students countable earnings when calculating their SSI payment 2012 monthly exclusion will be $1,700/month Maximum yearly exclusion: $6600 in 2011 $6840 in 2012

23 Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) Regularly attending school means taking one or more courses of study and attending classes: In college or university for at least 8 hours a week In grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours a week In a training course to prepare for employment for at least 12 hours a week (15 hours a week if the course involves shop practice) May be approved for less time if it is due to a reason beyond students control, such as illness

24 Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) School enrollment can be verified with an ID Card, tuition receipt, or other evidence Social Security can contact the school to verify attendance It is recommended that student status is clearly indicated in writing when notifying Social Security of employment SEIE should be applied automatically when earnings and student status are reported

25 Example: SEIE and SSI Lola is 20-years old and she lives with her parents Starting in January 2012, she will be a full time student at her local community college Because she still lives at home and is not paying rent, she receives a monthly SSI check of $ Starting in April of 2012, she will be working ten hours a week at the rate of $15/hour as a peer mentor at her local independent living center Her gross monthly income from work is $ Because she is a student, she can use the SEIE, which allows her to exclude her earnings up to $1700 per month (up to a total of $6840 per year) from her countable income for SSI

26 Step One: $645.00Gross Monthly Earnings from Work -$645.00SEIE $0.00Total Countable Earnings Step Two: $625.17SSI Payment (California 2012 rate) -$0.00Countable Earnings $625.17Adjusted SSI Payment Step Three: $625.17Adjusted SSI Payment +$645.00Work Earnings =$ Total Income Example – SEIE and SSI Calculation:

27 SEIE Yearly Exclusion Maximum yearly exclusion is $6840 in 2012 If Lola earns $645.00/month, and works 9 months (April-December) she could exclude the entire $ total earnings Can remain in effect even when you are on summer break as long as you resume school when school reopens

28 Plan to Achieve Self- Support (PASS) A written plan that allows recipients of SSI to set aside income and/or resources for a specified period of time to be used to achieve a chosen occupational goal SSI recipients are eligible PASS may allow SSI eligibility for SSDI beneficiaries A way that SSA assists people with disabilities in their own efforts to join or re-enter the workforce Examples of PASS expenses: training, transportation, equipment and tools, child care, assistive technology, job coach, business start up funds, vehicle modifications, professional attire 28

29 29 You must have some form of countable income and/or resources to set aside in the PASS Funds set aside in a PASS are not counted as income when determining SSI payment Funds set aside dont count toward SSI resource limits A PASS is intended to encourage SSI recipients to eventually become self-supporting (i.e. occupational goal will lead to a significant reduction in SSI) To learn more watch our archived PASS webinar: Plan to Achieve Self- Support (PASS)

30 Example: PASS and SSI Keiko receives $854.40/month in SSI She is earning $550.00/month working part-time at a local coffee house She attends college full-time and she has been using the Student Earned Income Exclusion, but she is turning 22 next month Her goal is to become a licensed practical nurse which includes state certification testing She has been saving money to buy a car and she has almost $1,800 in her savings account, but she knows that she cannot save much more without losing her SSI She would like to write a PASS for: School and employment expenses To buy a used car since there is no public transportation available to or from any local hospitals or nursing homes

31 $550.00Gross Monthly Earnings from Work -$85.00General & Earned Income Exclusions $465.00Remaining Earnings ÷2 $232.50Countable Earned Income -$232.50Contributed to PASS $0.00Adjusted Countable Income ExampleSSI and PASS Calculation:

32 $854.40SSI Payment (California 2012 rate) -$0.00Countable Income =$854.40Adjusted SSI Payment Available Income $854.40Adjusted SSI Payment +$550.00Earnings from Work -$232.50Contributed towards PASS $1,171.90Total Available Income ExampleSSI and PASS Calculation:

33 Often notice no difference in available income with or without a PASS (depending on amount set aside) Ownership of items purchased Personal investment in employment goals Ability to supplement services from other agencies; cover costs that other agencies cannot Viable option for self-employment goals Offers alternative or supplement to traditional Department of Rehabilitation services Allows for self-directed employment plan Benefits of a PASS Plan

34 Keeping Medi-Cal and IHSS While Working Section 1619(b) Medi-Cal Working Disabled Program

35 SSI and Medi-Cal: 1619(b) 1619(b) is a work incentive that allows working SSI recipients to keep FREE Medi-Cal (No Share-of-Cost) Medi-Cal retained when SSI payment is reduced to $0.00 per month due to earned income Free Medi-Cal coverage continues until earnings reach a threshold amount: $36, (non-blind) $37, (blind) These are 2012 amounts for California People with high medical costs or publicly funded attendants (i.e. IHSS) can earn even more (Individualized Threshold) Benefits can start again if you stop working or your earnings decrease (Reinstatement)

36 1619(b) Qualifications To qualify: Have been eligible for an SSI cash payment for at least 1 month; Would be eligible for cash payment except for earnings; Still be disabled or blind; Still meet all other eligibility rules, including the resources test; Need Medi-Cal in order to work; Have gross earned income that is insufficient to replace SSI, Medi-Cal, and any publicly funded attendant care (IHSS)

37 1619(b): Individualized Threshold Individualized Threshold: threshold can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis Higher Individualized Threshold if: Blind Work Expenses (BWE) Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE) Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS Plan) Publicly Funded Personal Attendant (i.e. In-Home Supportive Services) Medical Expenses above State Average Social Securitys Programs Operation Manual reference: SI Individualized Threshold Calculation Area Work Incentives Coordinators

38 Medi-Cal Working Disabled Program The Medi-Cal Working Disabled Program allows individuals to earn up to $55,476/year and keep their Medi-Cal! Eligible couples can earn up to $74,580/year Even higher wages are allowed with IRWEs Affordable monthly premiums to access Medi-Cal and IHSS without a share-of-cost $20-$250 for individuals $30-$375 for couples IRS approved Retirement Plans allowed and not counted towards asset limit Save your earned income in a separate identifiable account with no cap

39 Getting Back on Benefits 1619(b) - SSI cash benefits can start again if you stop working or your earnings decrease (Reinstatement) Expedited Reinstatement (EXR): 5 year period after SSI benefits and payments stop due to work and earnings If a beneficiary stops working their benefits can be reinstated without having to file a new application Up to 6 months provisional benefits payable during EXR decision making process Medical decision needed

40 Benefits Planning Tools, Skills and Resources for Results The Benefits Binder: your notebook and log of phone calls, office visits, and names of service staff you contact. File original paycheck stubs, government letters and receipts here. Reporting Requirements: Who is responsible, when? If you have a payee, the payee is responsible to report changes to Social Security. If not, its the beneficiary. Report income and other life changes timely Know your appeal rights. A Notice of Action explains them. : Utilize Benefits Planning Tools and Resources: Disability Benefits 101 website (, and local benefits These tools, rules and skills can result in timely and improved customer service with benefit programs

41 Resources Disability Benefits 101 SSA Red Book-Guide to Work Incentives Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects Free benefits counseling by Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) For SSI, and SSDI recipients ages

42 Resources Area Work Incentives Coordinators (AWIC) Social Securitys work incentives experts Help SSI and SSDI beneficiaries who are having trouble getting accurate information and application of work incentives at local SSA offices Disability Rights California Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) Assistance with appeals, overpayments, problems with Employment Networks, workplace discrimination TTY

43 Resources Plan to Achieve Self-Support Find your PASS Cadre: e.htm PASS Plan form: The Work Site

44 Questions You are welcome to contact Karla Bell at:

45 The webinar Chat window is now open for your questions Type your question into the text entry area below the Chat window Click enter or return on your keyboard to submit your question Question and Answer

46 Please give us feedback on todays webinar by completing our survey: Certified Rehabilitation Counseling (CRC) Credits are available for this webinar: To receive CRC credits please complete this short quiz and survey: 2/webinar.html We will also follow up with an with links to the CRC quiz, survey and archive of the webinar so you can listen to it again Webinar Archive: Survey and CRC Credits

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