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Benefits, Benefits, Benefits Joyce Armstrong, MA CT DSS/Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Connect to Work Center October 2008 Turning Potential Barriers.

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Presentation on theme: "Benefits, Benefits, Benefits Joyce Armstrong, MA CT DSS/Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Connect to Work Center October 2008 Turning Potential Barriers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Benefits, Benefits, Benefits Joyce Armstrong, MA CT DSS/Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Connect to Work Center October 2008 Turning Potential Barriers into Incentives for Recruitment into National Service

2 National Service and Benefits Are you currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income(SSI)? Any income you receive as a volunteer must be evaluated. This may include a living allowance, clothing allowance, education award and in some cases room and board. It’s time to learn about the work incentives available to you!

3 What happens when I have wages/stipends? It depends on the National Service program where you serve. It also depends on the specific benefits that you are receiving. So it’s very important to know which program and which benefits apply to you.

4 Know what benefits you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) State Supplement Food Stamps or other state benefits Medicare Medicaid –Medicaid buy-in Health insurance through a parent or employer

5 Health Insurance Medicare –Available to most SSDI beneficiaries –Eligible after 24 month of SSDI eligibility Medicaid –Available to most SSI recipients Insurance through another family member National Service volunteers and AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteers may have site-specific programs Other medical insurance programs offered by states

6 Cash Benefits Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Traditional rules –Pays cash benefits to some people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. –The amount of cash benefit varies from state to state. Federal benefit rate (FBR) plus State Supplement. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) –Pays cash benefits to some workers with disabilities, the worker’s widow or the worker’s disabled adult child. –The amount of cash benefit varies based on the worker’s FICA contribution.

7 Cash Benefits cont’d Supplemental Security Income –Decreases as earnings increase –For those on just SSI First $85 not counted Half of remaining earnings counted after $85 is deducted Social Security Disability Insurance –Maintains full benefits for 9 non- consecutive months of Trial Work ($670/mo. gross 2008) and a 3 month Grace Period –If earning above Substantial Gainful Activity, ($940/mo. gross 2008) DI usually stops

8 Heart Act for SSI Recipients What It Does Affects SSI only –AmeriCorps and National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) participants will no longer have SSI benefits reduced due to stipends Under traditional SSI benefits gradually reduce as earnings increase –This is now consistent with all of the other National Service programs Protects Medicaid eligibility in states where Medicaid for those on SSI is administered by Social Security - called 1634 states (may not be true in Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Oklahoma – 209b states that administer their own Medicaid programs for those on SSI)

9 What Heart Act Doesn’t Do Does not apply to anyone receiving SSDI benefits –Refer to SSDI work incentive rules in this power point Does not change the asset limit for those on SSI ($2,000 single, $3,000 married)

10 What Happens to Other Benefits ? The following benefits may be affected: –Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) –State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) –Title 20 Social Service Block Grant –Unemployment Insurance –Need-based Federal Student Financial Aid Check with your state as rules may vary Medicare –Check with SSA or contact your state’s Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Project

11 What Happens to my SSDI? The Heart Act doesn’t affect SSDI –The rules are consistent with all of the National programs Any income received as a volunteer must be evaluated by Social Security including: living allowance, clothing allowance, education award and, in some cases, room and board –There are a number of work incentives that can be used once the trial work period and grace period months are completed that may allow someone to maintain their SSDI benefit

12 SSDI Work Incentives PASS and IRWE Plan for Achieving Self Support –SSI program –Can set aside wages and SSDI or other income to help with purchase of goods or services needed to reach vocational goal –Increased income and assets from PASS don’t affect SSI or state benefit eligibility Impairment Related Work Expenses –Out-of-pocket money spent on work expenses related to disability –Social Security determines approval after you start to work –Must document that expenses are necessary to be able to work and are due to disability

13 What happens to my SSDI? Unearned income does not affect SSDI cash benefits (except workers compensation and state disability). Earned income affected by a number of work incentives. Talk with your benefits specialists. Trial Work Period (TWP) Extended Period of Eligibility Expedited Reinstatement IRWE Extended Medicare Subsidy

14 What Happens to my SSDI cont’d Stipend payment for any day that you don’t actually work can be deducted in determining if earnings are Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) – this includes payment for holidays, sick days and personal days –The value of these days can be deducted from gross monthly earnings to determine if you are below SGA –Once trial work and grace period are completed, you are entitled to your DI check any month that the value of your earnings is below SGA –If the total stipend you receive each month is above SGA, Impairment Related Work Expenses, Subsidies/Special Considerations and deduction of leave days may allow you to keep your SSDI benefit

15 Where Can I Find Help with Using Work Incentives? Area Work Incentive Coordinators (AWIC) SSA employees who provide technical assistance (t.a.) and training to WIPA projects and to local SSA offices within their regions. Work Incentive Liaisons (WIL) SSA employees in local offices who have expertise in work incentives. Work Incentive Planning & Assistance Projects (WIPA) SSA funded Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs/benefits specialists) based in community/public agencies and trained to help individuals understand the impact of wages on benefits. There are projects in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. Trained by/receive t.a. from Virginia Commonwealth University and pass a rigorous certification process before allowed to do benefits counseling. Benefits counseling done on an individual basis and benefits analysis report is provided based on that person’s unique situation. Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) SSA funded programs to assist beneficiaries/recipients who are having problems with their Social Security benefits or vocational rehabilitation services under SSA’s Ticket to Work program.

16 Other Important Income and Asset Building Tools Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) –Low income wage earners can receive tax credits even if earnings weren’t high enough for deduction of income taxes Federal level program Some states also have EITC programs Free Income Tax Assistance –Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Free tax preparation sites and e-filing services available –Tax counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offered by AARP, with timing preference given to taxpayers 60 & older) Check with Internal Revenue Service or AARP for sites

17 Resources WIPA contacts by state: – SSA AmeriCorps program information: – SSA Redbook: – SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS): – –SI 00830.610 and SI 00830.537

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