Tips and Resources for One-Stop Staff to Assist Customers in Managing Social Security Disability Benefits
- Management of benefits is an issue that public VR programs constantly deal with. The expertise and resources of VR on this issue can be of great assistance to the entire One-Stop system. As a One-Stop partner, VR can provide resources and expertise, building the capacity of the One-Stop system to assist all customers in managing benefits.
- Contact the Social Security Administration and obtain copies of publications that might be helpful to staff and customers. Place copies of these publications on display, and provide them to customers who have questions about social security disability benefits. (Popular brochures are contained in the resource listing at the end of this chapter.)
- Find out whom One-Stop customers and staff can contact at the local Social Security office for assistance with benefit questions, and help customers connect with them.
- Find out what additional resources are available locally to assist customers with management of benefits. The Social Security Administration is currently in the process of funding a network of Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPA & O) specialists throughout the country. At a minimum, find out the contact information for the BPA & O project(s) in your state (information is available at: www.ssa.gov/work). As noted, the state VR program may also have or be aware of additional resources to assist with benefits management.
- If you are going to help a customer determine the impact of employment on their benefits you need to know:
- Which program are they on? (SSI, SSDI, or both)
- How much is the monthly benefit?
- If the customer is unsure, you can request this information in writing from Social Security, with a signed release from the customer and payee if applicable (a payee receives checks in the customers name). A sample letter to request information is at the end of this section.
- Inform the customer about Work Incentives (IRWEs, PASSs, etc.), and make suggestions on how they could be utilized
- Remind the customer that income and job status (employment starts and stops, new job, job loss) must be reported to Social Security on a timely basis
- If the customer is on SSI, and will remain on it when they start working, remind them that their assets must stay below the $2,000 limit ($3,000 for a married couple). Otherwise the individual can lose both SSI and possibly Medicaid (asset limits for keeping Medicaid are higher in some states).
Note: An additional $1,740 can be put into a burial account which does not count towards the limit.
- The Social Security Administration has staff available to provide training on benefit issues. Consider having Social Security offer periodic information and training sessions to customers and staff as part of the activities at the One-Stop Center.
- Training on Social Security benefits may also be available from other sources such as: state VR, disability providers, Independent Living Centers, disability service providers and advocacy organizations
- Consider obtaining software that can help customers determine the impact of employment on their Social Security benefits. The Employment Support Institute has developed one such software package, WorkWORLD, designed to assist individuals with disabilities in calculating the impact of employment on Social Security and other benefits. One-Stops may wish to obtain a copy of this software to assist individuals in managing their benefits.
Social Security Resources
Social Security National Toll-Free Number:
Call between 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM any business day
National Office Mailing Address
Social Security Administration - Office of Public Inquiries
Windsor Park Building
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235
Regional and Local Offices
Regional offices for the Social Security Administration are located in:
- Kansas City
- New York
- San Francisco
Social Security has local offices throughout the United States. Addresses for regional and local offices are located in the "Blue Pages" or under U.S. Government, in the phone book. Regional and local offices can also be found through the Social Security Administration web site.
The Social Security Administration has a very comprehensive and user-friendly web site, with extensive information, publications and forms available. In addition to the main web site, specific sections are dedicated to disability issues.
- Social Security Online: www.ssa.gov
- Employment Support Programs: www.ssa.gov/work
- The Office of Disability Home Page: www.ssa.gov/disability
Each of the regional offices also has a web site, which can be accessed through www.ssa.gov
Social Security Publications
The Social Security Administration has an extensive number of publications on issues related to disability benefits. Some of the publications available include:
- Understanding Social Security (Publication No. 05-10024)
- Social Security Disability Benefits
- SSI (Publication No. 05-11000)
- What You Need To Know When You Get Disability Benefits
- Working While Disabled (Publication No. 05-10095)
- Working While Disabled... How We Can Help
- Red Books on Work Incentives for People with Disabilities
- A Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)
- Graduating To Independence (for ages 14-22)
- How Social Security Can Help With Vocational Rehabilitation
- Medicare (Publication No. 05-10043)
All publications are available free of charge through the web site, the local Social Security office, or by calling the toll-free number.
Benefits Planning Projects
SSA is in the process of funding a national network for Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPA & O). As of January, 2001, sixteen states have received awards, and SSA is in the process of funding BPA & O Projects in additional states. A listing of the currently funded projects (as of 1/01) is available at: www.ssa.gov/work/ServiceProviders/statebystate.html
Ticket to Work Program Manager
Voice: 1-866-YOURTICKET (1-866-968-7842)
TDD: 1-866-TTD2WORK (1-866-833-2967)
Web site: www.yourtickettowork.com
Benefits Management Software
The Employment Support Institute has developed WorkWORLD, software to assist individuals with disabilities in calculating the impact of employment on Social Security and other benefits. One-Stops may wish to obtain a copy of this software to assist individuals in managing their benefits.
Employment Support Institute
Attention: WorkWORLD Support
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business
1015 Floyd Avenue; P.O. Box 844000
Richmond, VA 23284-4000
Voice: (804) 828-2665
Web site: www.workworld.org
The federal government allows people to determine eligibility for certain public benefits at www.GovBenefits.gov