I'm on Social Security Disability and thinking of going back to Work: Part 3-Ticket to Work Program

In this blog, I will talk about the person who is on Social Security Disability and wants to try to go back to work full time. I think most would agree that the person who wants to do that may need some help. Enter the Ticket to Work Program. This program is a free and voluntary program available to people ages 18 through 64 who receive SSDI or supplemental Security Income (SSI).

According to the SSA.gov site, the goals of the Ticket to Work Program are to offer beneficiaries expanded choices when seeking services and supports to enter, re-enter, and or maintain employment. Increase the financial independence of self-sufficiency of the beneficiaries with disabilities and reduce and possibly eliminate reliance on the SSA disability benefits.

To participate, you need to sign up with an approved Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. Either of these, if they accept the Ticket assignment will help you. The services they provide may be training, career counseling, job placement, rehabilitation and ongoing support.

Within this program, you can safely explore work options without putting your benefits at risk and hopefully find the right job. A plus to this program is that you can use a combination of SSA’s work incentives such as the Trial Work Period to maximize your income until you begin to learn enough and earn enough to support yourselves. The big take away with the Ticket to Work Program is that you can:

1)      Go to work without automatically losing your disability benefits

2)      Return to your benefits if cannot continue to work and need to stop

3)      Continue to receive your healthcare benefits

4)      Be protected from receiving a medical continuing disability review while using in the Program and making the expected progress.

There are two terms here that you may have never heard of before. The first is Employment Networks (EN). This is a private or public entity (including State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies) which entered into an agreement with the Social Security Administration to provide the above services to you. You and the EN must agree to work together and develop a plan for your employment goals and outline their services to you.

You have a right to shop around for an EN that fits your needs and wants. There are a lot of them out there. Do not settle until and unless you have exhausted your options. Note that some ENs do their own specific thing while others do everything. Some ENs may be only educational and offer you courses, some vocational and offer specific training while others may only offer job placement.  You can check out https://www.ssa.gov/work/home.html  for EN help. ENs as a private entity get paid from the Social Security Administration after you have a positive result of retuning to and sustaining work.

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies can be a tremendous help to you. They can help retrain you, educate you and find you work.  The National Association of the Deaf has a directory of State Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation, here is the link: https://www.nad.org/resources/directories/statewide-vocational-rehabilitation-services/

So what are the takeaways for using the Ticket to Work Program? You don’t automatically lose your benefits, there is an easier path back to your benefits if you cannot continue to work, you will continue to receive your healthcare benefits for a while and the SSA cannot do a medical continuing disability review when you are in the program.

 

I hope this has given you some insight into the Ticket to Work Program? See you next week!

 

disABLEDperson, Inc.

Anonymous Author

www.disABLEDperson.com

www.JOFDAV.com

“Ours is simply to serve”

I'm on Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Thinking of going back to Work: Part 2- Trial Work Period

OK, so you have made your decision to go back to work, now what? What do you do? What is your next step? The first thing you need to do is to decide if you want to work full time or part time. For this blog let’s say you are going to work part time.

Before I go any further, let me tell you that if you are on SSDI and you decide to go back to work, you need to inform the Social Security Administration of your intent to do so. You can call them or go to your local SSA office. This is a must. The law says you need to inform SSA if there is any change to your disability, going back to work is a change if you are collecting SSDI. My suggestion is to contact your local SSA office.

Now if you inform SSA that you intend to do limited work and you do not intend to make anywhere near $840 for 2017 which is the trigger to enter the Trial Work Period, the SSA worker may say to you as long as you are below the $840 for 2017 you do not need to inform them of anything. If you make $840 or more for 2017 you then need to send the SSA a copy of all your pay stubs. MAKE SURE YOU DO THAT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO. More on this later!

Let’s say that you decided that you want to work part time. Well, you need to decide If you want to make enough to enter the Trial Work Period or not. What you ask? Trial Work Period, what is that? Let me explain.

The www.ssa.gov site says” Earnings trigger a trial work period. During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2017, any month in which earnings exceed $840 is considered a month of services for an individual's trial work period.

So the thing you need to know and understand about the Trial Work Period is you are not in it if you do not make at least $840 in 2017. If you decide that you want to work 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month and you get paid $10/hour, you will only make $400 for the month and you are well below the Trial Work Period trigger so for this month you will still be considered disabled. If you decide you want to work 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month and you get paid $21.10/hour you will make $844 for the month and that month will be considered a month in the Trial Work Period. Remember, ‘Earnings trigger a trial work period.

Now you have only 9 months to decide if you would like to go back to work if your earnings put you into the Trial Work Period. It is cumulative within a 60 months period. There are no do overs. During the Trial Work Period, you can make as much as you can and still collect all of your SSDI benefits. If you use up your 9 months and you continue to work, you will lose at least part of your benefits. (I will talk about that in a later blog).

Of course if you work full time and making more than $840/month in 2017 and you do so for 9 consecutive months, you will then not be considered disabled and you will lose your SSA benefits. If you still have a disabling condition, you can keep your Medicare for up to 8.5 years after returning to work.

In my opinion it is better to contact your local Social Security office as you will be assigned to a SSA worker there.

SSA will send you Forms to fill out to see where you are at. I highly suggest that you fill them in and get them back to them on time. Make sure you make copies of these forms and keep them in your records. Going back to work is a process after being on SSDI and you need to keep track of it all.

Let’s talk about reporting. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to send copies of your paystubs on a monthly basis to the person assigned to you. Every month! When you do, make sure that you keep copies for yourself. My suggestion is to create a folder for yourself and every piece of communication you send to SSA you keep a copy for yourself. You may say why? That is a lot of work. Trust me, there may come a day when you need that information. Also and this is very important in my opinion anything you send to the SSA you either bring it personally to the local office and get a receipt from them that you gave it to them or if you mail your pay stubs, mail them registered return receipt mail. Keep any receipt your receive from SSA or the receipt from the Post Office that someone at SSA signed for your pay stubs that month and put them in that folder in case you need it for future correspondence.

The reporting is the law. You need to do it. Why is it important to keep copies of everything and get receipts for anything you send to SSA? Reason being is that SSA is a huge bureaucracy. They make mistakes. You do all this so you can present them with every document your sent to them, when you sent it and who signed for it. It has happened more than once that SSA says they never received a document from you. If you do not have a copy of it and a receipt of them signing for it, you never sent it. This is important if they say you were overpaid or you didn’t do something right etc. Keeping everything is to your benefit.

The beauty of the Trial Work Period is that if during the 9 months period you decide you cannot work your disability is simply too much, no harm, no foul. You simply tell SSA that you are stopping.

 

That is all for this week. Next week Ticket to Work

disABLEDperson, Inc.

By: Anonymous Author

www.disABLEDperson.com

www.JOFDAV.com

I am Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Thinking of going back to Work

This is the first of a multi-part blog about transition to work from Social Security Disability. Our goal is to take you through the entire process.

You are on Social Security Disability (SSDI) for a time now and you are thinking you have to go back to work. There are a couple of reasons why a person on SSDI would want to go back to work.

The first reason is because they have recovered from their disability. The second reason is because they are bored with life and need to be productive members of society again. The third is they need more money.

If you have recovered, fantastic! You should by all means get back into the workforce. You shouldn’t have any reservations. Just do it.

Let’s explore the second reason that you are bored and need to be a productive member of society again. That sounds great. The first question you need to ask yourself is do you really believe that you can work? Remember, you spent a lot of time and energy convincing the Social Security Administration that you could not work. SSA has accepted the fact that you cannot work, now you are telling them that you can at least do some work.

Think about that just a little. Ask yourself these questions. 1) Can you really go back to work? 2) How important are your Social Security Disability benefits to you? There is a chance that by going back to work in any capacity may jeopardize your benefits. 3) Can you live without your SSDI check every month? 4) Can you find a different way to occupy your time and make you feed productive? 5) What if I start to work and then I realize I can’t continue?

Now let’s explore the third reason. You cannot live on just your SSDI check. You need more money. You thought that going on SSDI would keep you financially comfortable. This in my opinion is the hardest. The first two reasons didn’t put you into a compelling situation. You can either stay at the status quo of being on SSDI or not. If you do not have enough money to live, you need to do something, right! Right! Let’s think about this. What options do you have? Well, if you are able to do some kind of work, you may need to try. You can also explore other avenues of help. Have you explored food stamps? What about help with your rent. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has programs that give vouchers to people with disabilities called Section 8 Vouchers which are given through your local Public Housing Authority. You can read about this on their website at: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8.

Utilities also have programs for people with very low incomes. My suggestion is that you contact your city’s City Hall and ask for help in identifying these programs.

Next week we will get into what you need to do if you decide that you want to go back to work.

disABLEDperson, Inc.

Anonymous Writer

www.disABLEDperson.com

www.JOFDAV.com

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Fire and Death

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Fire and Death.  They are nothing new. These events have been occurring since the beginning of time. Why are they more scary today? Well because they are all happening to Biblical proportion, happening together and scaring the heck out of a lot of people.

I'm forgoing my regular blog to blog abou1t this because like many of you, what is happening is scaring me too.

The Gulf part of Texas was devastated very recently by Hurricane Harvey. Houses ripped apart, flooding causing all sorts of civil and health issues. The Texas governor says the money needed to repair the damage is over 100 billion dollars. Congress passed a bill to give them about 15 billion, a true horror for sure.

The media was saying that Harvey was a 1 in a thousand year storm event. Boy did a thousand years go quickly. Just about a week later, Irma forms in the Caribbean. It grows into a monster storm. They are saying the biggest ever. What? Some want to call it a category 6 storm, but those more calm individuals continue to say there is no such things. Irma destroyed the Caribbean. As I am writing this, Irma is taking out its wrath on Florida. I’m praying as I write.

That is not all, there is Jose. Another hurricane that has formed in the Caribbean right behind Irma that last I looked is a category 4 storm. Jose is taking almost the same path as Irma. Everyone is holding their breath about Jose.

In the Gulf of Mexico, there is Katia. Katia from what I understand is heading south. You don’t hear much about Katia so hopefully it is not going to create too much havoc.

While all this is happening, Los Angeles California was burning. They were saying the biggest fire in Los Angeles history. Droughts, fire, mudslides in California are becoming the norm.

Oh if that wasn’t enough, an 8.2 earthquake in southern Mexico that has caused devastation as Katia was approaching killing dozens.

You may be asking   “What the heck is going on?” Some are saying we are experiencing God’s wrath. Some are saying this is all a consequence of Global Warming. Still others are saying all this is cyclical. Events like this happen every couple of centuries. Really, no one knows. They are all just speculating. No one knows.

So what do we know? We know that these events are devastatingly destructive and will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. We know that we are all unnerved and frightened. We know that we are all weary of Mother Nature.

Finally we know that none of us know what is happening or what will happen moving forward and we are all scared.

Just thinking out loud!

Anonymous Author

disABLEDperson, Inc.

www.disABLEDperson.com

www.JOFDAV.com 


My Long Term Disability Insurance called to question me after 22 years of benefits

I acquired a disability decades ago. My back decided to break down and herniate to the tune of 11 disc protrusions with spinal nerve and cord compression. I had a professional career and worked until I couldn’t.

As many of us I made a lot of mistakes in my younger days but one mistake I didn’t make was I listened to my financial advisor and purchased Long Term Disability Insurance and paid for it out of my personal income not my corporation. My Disability Insurance carrier was fantastic. They reviewed all of the documentation and after the waiting period I received my first of many checks from them. My policy was until age 65. Every month for the next 22 years I received a check from them without question. Having Long Term Disability Insurance was truly a Blessing as I could not work given my condition. The closer I got to 65 the less I worried about having any issues with them.

I woke up one morning at 59 years old and it was an ordinary day until I went to get the mail. In my mail box that day was a letter from my Long Term Disability Insurance telling me that they wanted to send an investigator to my home to interview me.  “Please contact us” they said so we can schedule the appointment. The letter also cited language from my policy indicating that they had the right to do this and that if I refused it could jeopardize my benefits.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced a situation like this. My first reaction was to break into a sweat and my heart started beating really fast. I was fear stricken. Can they actually stop my benefits after all this time? What will I do? I need that money to live on. Like many people receiving long term disability benefits I read all the stories of this happening. I remembered how sad I felt for those people and how happy I was that my Disability Insurance has never bothered me. They were a great company.

After a period where my mind raced thinking of the worst, I went to my computer and Googled everything I could on situations like this. There is a ton of information about this on the web. My suspicions were confirmed. In situations like this, the Disability Insurance was looking for a way to stop your benefits. The pervasive opinions of people who went through this said to never let any investigator into your house. It will never work in your favor.

After my initial response, my logical mind stepped in. You have been on Long Term Disability for over 20 years now. You haven’t worked during that time. Does the insurance company believe that you are getting better as you get older? I mean they paid me for 22 years. They are committed to only 6 more years of payments. What are they thinking?

I contacted a close friend of mine who is an attorney. He confirmed that in his experience for whatever the reason they are looking for a way to stop my benefits. He told me to contact the adjuster and tell her that I am happy to meet with the investigator but I will do so in my attorney’s office not my home.

I followed my friend’s advice. I called the adjustor. She agreed to set up the appointment at my attorney’s office. “Great” I said to myself. This is big. I thought to myself, why are they doing this? They have questions about me and where I am in life and contrary to my friend’s advice, before I hung up I said to the adjustor what are you looking for? You obviously have questions for me. You obviously are looking for a way to stop my benefits. I have nothing to hide. Ask my any question you want and I will be 100% truthful with you. I at the end of our conversation you still want to send an inspector, you can send him/her to my home. I don’t have anything to hide. She agreed and we set up a 1 hour phone appointment for the next day.

I prepared all night for this phone call. I read my Disability Insurance policy cover to cover again. I read as much as I could about the law. You get me drift.

The next day the phone range, it was her. The phone call started out adversarial. Her tone with strong, firm and combative and her voice was monotone. We went over the policy as she quoted specifics and she then started the questions.  I assured her that I would answer all of her questions truthfully. We started.

“Do you do any house chores”? “Can you lift anything”? “Can you walk”? “What is your level of pain on a scale of 1-10”? These questions seemed ridiculous to me. I’m thinking common! Haven’t we been through all of this? I then said to her can we please get to the pointed question. What exactly do you want to know? She then said “can you do anything”? “Do you just meander around the house all day?

At that, I just told her about my life and what I can and cannot do? Contrary to advice, I told her more than just a one word answer. I started by asking her a question trying to appeal to her logical mind. “I acquired my mobility disability pertaining to spinal degeneration some 22 years ago and I am now 59 years old, do you think my spine is more or less degenerated now than it was then”? She responded I would think it is more. Of course I agreed. I then said if you are currently or you are contemplating putting me under surveillance, this is what you will find. You will find me doing some grocery shopping. I go for small lists of things so they aren’t too heavy.  You will also see me going for a walk. You see, I have learned over the years to live with my disability not die because of it. I do my best to embrace the life that I have. “So go ahead”, I told her, send the cameras. That is what you will find.

By now her attitude towards me changed. She seemed to understand better who I am and I was simply trying to live as best I could with my disability. I told the truth to every question she asked. She said thank you and we hung up. Two weeks later I received a letter from My Long Term Disability Insurance with an offer to buy out the next 6 years of my policy in a lump sum or simply keep receiving the benefits until 65. The moral of this story is the truth will always set you free!


Anonymous Author

disABLEDperson, Inc.

www.disABLEDperson.com

www.JOFDAV.com 

"Ours is simply to serve"