WISE Webinar 2019-09: Healthcare and the Path to Employment


Speakers: Sarah Hyland (Moderator); Keri Harrington
and Ashley Palma (Presenters) SARAH>>Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Ticket to Work webinar, “Putting It Together: Healthcare and the Path to Employment.” My name is Sarah Hyland. I’m a member of the Ticket to Work Team, and
I’ll be your moderator for today’s webinar. We’re so glad you’re able to take time to
spend with us today to learn about Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program and how
it can help you as you start your path to financial independence through work. Each of us has our own path to follow, and
we hope you find some information today that will assist you in moving forward on your
path to employment and financial independence. Let’s go ahead and get started by going over
some of the functions of the webinar platform so you can interact and get the most out of
today’s webinar. First, you can manage your audio using the
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appear. Below that is the “Closed Captioning” pod. In the top right-hand corner, you will see
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little later. If you need assistance navigating Adobe Connect,
an Accessibility User Guide with a list of controls is available at: http://bit.ly/adobe-accessibility. This link can be found in the Web Links pod
at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen, and it is titled “Adobe Accessibility User
Guide.” Real-time captioning is available; and it’s
displayed in the captioning pod, which is the box that appears below the slide that
is on your screen right now. The captioning link can also be found in the
Web Links pod under the title “Closed Captioning.” We are here today to answer questions that
you may have on the Ticket to Work Program. Please send your questions to us at any time
throughout the webinar by typing them into the Q&A pod. We will direct questions to the appropriate
speaker during the Q&A portion of our webinar. We will be addressing questions at two different
points throughout today’s presentation; so go ahead and send those questions in, and
we will do our best to answer as many of them as possible. If you’re listening through the phone and
are not logged into the webinar, you can definitely ask questions by sending an e-mail to Ticket
to Work. The e-mail address is: [email protected] Another resource available that we think you
will find extremely helpful in connecting to different resources that are mentioned
throughout today is the “Web Links” pod, which you will find at the bottom right-hand side
of your screen. This pod lists all the links and resources
presented during today’s webinar. To access any of these, highlight the topic
you are interested in and would like to connect to; and then select the “Browse To” button
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Work…again, the e-mail address is [email protected]…or reference the confirmation e-mail that you
received for today’s webinar for a list of available resources. Also, please note that SSA cannot guarantee,
and is not responsible for, accessibility of external websites. Today’s webinar is being recorded, and a
copy of that will be available within two weeks on the Choose Work website, which can
be accessed at: http://bit.ly/WISE_OnDemand. This link, as well as others, can be found
in the Web Links pod that we just talked about at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. This is titled, “WISE Webinar Archives.” We hope everyone has a great experience on
the webinar today; however, if you run into any technical difficulties, please use the
Q&A pod to message us, or you can send us an e-mail at the Ticket to Work e-mail: [email protected] As I mentioned earlier, my name is Sarah Hyland;
and I am a member of the Ticket to Work Team. I’m excited to be here with you today as your
moderator. We’re delighted to have with us Keri Harrington
and Ashley Palma. Keri Harrington works for Granite State Independent
Living, GSIL, in New Hampshire and is the Director of Social Security’s Work Incentives
Planning and Assistance Program for all of New Hampshire and a portion of New York. She is a certified Community Work Incentive
Coordinator, and she has been serving beneficiaries in this role for nine-and-a-half years. She has been working in the social service
field for over 14 years. Ashley Palma is a Certified Community Work
Incentive Coordinator, CWIC, for Granite State Independent Living in New Hampshire as well. She has been a CWIC for the past three and-a-half
years. She works closely providing benefits counseling
to local vocational rehabilitation offices as well as employment networks at GSIL. Thank you all again for joining us today. We have a very informative session planned
for you, and our guest presenters will be discussing work incentives; the impact that
choosing work may have on your Medicaid and Medicare benefits; and benefits counseling
and service providers. By the close of today’s webinar, you will
be able to better understand your Social Security disability benefits; understand how the Ticket
program can help you choose to work; recognize the myths and the facts surrounding work and
its impact on Medicare and Medicaid; be able to access additional resources related to
the Ticket program, Medicare, and Medicaid. With that, it’s my pleasure to introduce Ashley
Palma, who is going to start us off with the Ticket to Work program and support on your
journey to work. Ashley, over to you. Thank you. ASHLEY>>Thank you, Sarah. Today we’re going to talk briefly and quickly
about the Ticket to Work program, what it does, how it works, and the different ways
that it can benefit you. Then later on in the presentation, you’ll
hear Keri talk to you about the different work incentives that are available. To start, the two programs that you’ll hear
us mention a lot throughout this program about Social Security are the Social Security Disability
Insurance, or SSDI, and Supplemental Security Income, SSI. If you receive one of these benefits and you’re
looking to go back to work, the first thing that you’re going to do is decide if that’s
the right choice for you. While obviously that is your decision, there
are some benefits to the Ticket to Work program that can help you to make that decision a
little bit easier. So what is the Ticket program? The Ticket program is a free and voluntary
Social Security program. You are not required to participate in it
if you choose not to. What it can do is offer some career development
for individuals between the ages of 18 through 64 who receive that Social Security Disability
Insurance or that Supplemental Security Income benefit. What the program does is it’s going to help
you with employment services…so are you looking to decide is work right for you, are
you prepared for work, do you have a résumé, do you have references, do you know how to
write a cover letter, all of those things…and also, it can help you to even find a job. Maybe you don’t know how to go about that
job search, so it will help you to figure that out as well as help you succeed in work. So they can be there to help you with the
interview process and make sure that you understand what you should be wearing to an interview
and all of those things as well. So how does the Ticket to Work program work? If you choose to participate in the Ticket
to Work program, you will work with a provider either through an employment network or your
state vocational rehabilitation agency. These agencies can help you with:
Career counseling…so what kind of career would be best for you, what are your skills,
what would your skills best be helped with? Again, they can help you with writing your
résumé. Have you not updated it since the last time
you had a job? Interview advice…how should you act an interview,
what should you wear, how to great an interviewee? And, as I said before, assistance finding
a job. So why would somebody use the Ticket to Work
program? The Ticket to Work program can help you to
determine whether or not work is going to be the right choice for you. Some individuals maybe don’t need that help
making those decisions, and they don’t need the help finding those jobs; but if you do
need the help, then it can help support you in making sure that you’re making the right
decisions that are best for you. A part of the Ticket to Work program is having
counseling available to you to go over the work incentives that Social Security has in
place, and Keri is going to talk a little more about specifically what those work incentives
are. However, Social Security does have more than
20 work incentives put into place that help individuals when they go back to work. These work incentives will help make it possible
for you to explore work while helping maintain your benefits. Some of those, what they can do is help you
keep your Medicaid and/or Medicare depending on your state; have access to individualized
services and supports, again, to help with the interviewing, job finding, all of those;
and help you keep some or all of your benefit payment as you transition to work. A big thing that people always say is, “If
I go back to work, I’m going to lose my benefit.” That isn’t always necessarily the case, and
with the Ticket to Work program you have access to benefits counselors who can help guide
you through that process and help you understand at what point does this tap into my benefit,
at what point do I lose my benefit? Today we’re here to talk mostly about the
health care portion of it…so Medicaid and Medicare; however, there are a lot of other
employment-related supports that come through the Ticket to Work program for SSDI and SSI. A good resource for anyone to look at if they
are curious about all of the work incentives in the whole process is Social Security’s
Red Book. If you look in the Web Links pod that they
have provided for you, you can find the link to the Red Book through the link called “Social
Security’s Red Book.” Healthcare and the Path to Employment…a
big misconception that I think we hear a lot is, “If I go to work, I’m going to automatically
lose my Medicare or my Medicaid,” maybe both if you have both, right? However, that is not true. You still have the possibility to go back
to work and maintain both your Medicaid and your Medicare. There are different work incentives that allow
individuals to maintain their Medicare, as well as each state has their own what we call
“Buy-In programs” for Medicaid that can help you to maintain your Medicaid. Keri is going to talk more about each one
of those. KERI>>So we’re going to talk about first Medicaid
and work incentives. If you remember, Medicaid is a state-run program
versus Medicare, which is a federal. First, there are two important pieces to Medicaid
when you go to work. There is Medicaid while working, also called
Section 1619(b) Medicaid continuation, which is an SSI work incentive. Then there are Medicaid Buy-in programs that
most states do have. First, we’re going to talk about Medicaid
while working or, again, Section 1619(b). If you receive SSI and your benefit stops
because you are working, you could qualify for 1619(b). You have to have at least one month prior
to your benefits stopping have been eligible and on Medicaid. You have to continue to meet Social Security’s
definition of disability. You need to still meet their non-disability
requirements, which are the resource or asset limits, the unearned income limit…which
is like Worker’s Comp, child support, unemployment. You need to need Medicaid. Social Security will send you a questionnaire
when you transition off benefits asking, “Have you used Medicaid in 12 months, will you need
to use Medicaid in 12 months, will you be unable to afford medical bills if you do not
have Medicaid?” So that’s important to know. You need to answer that questionnaire to be
eligible. You also have to have gross earnings below
your state’s threshold amount. So what is a threshold amount? It’s what Social Security uses to see if your
earnings are low enough to qualify for the Medicaid continuation 1619(b). It’s based on the amount of earnings that
would cause your SSI payment to stop in your state. Each state does have a different amount, so
that’s important to know…it’s not universal, there are different amounts…and then the
average of Medicaid expenses for your state. So for the most up-to-date threshold amounts,
they do change yearly, you can go to the Web Links pod and select the “State Threshold
Amounts,” and that will send you to the link. There are also some things you need to be
aware of. Social Security is looking at your gross earnings,
but they will take some special work incentives into play to see if your earnings are above
the threshold: There are impairment-related work expenses,
which are expenses you need to be able to work that you pay out-of-pocket for…like
prescription copays, medical copays, durable equipment, medical equipment. There’s a whole long list. Blind work expenses, which are like impairment-related
work expenses except for someone who usually is blind by Social Security’s definition. A plan to achieve self-support or a PASS. If you spend money out for a personal care
attendant or another type of publicly-funded attendant. And then if you have a lot of medical expenses
that go above what your state considers, So another Medicaid work incentive that is
important to know is called a Medicaid Buy-in Program. It’s called a buy-in program because a lot
of states do have a monthly premium cost…not all; so, again, you need to look into your
state’s eligibility and their requirements. You may qualify for this if you meet the definition
of disabled under the Social Security Act or your state’s definition if it’s different. This is a work incentive that’s used a lot
by SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries, where they can have access
to Medicaid. A lot of Medicaid Buy-in programs have higher
income limits and higher resource or asset limits, so it does allow people to have access
to Medicaid where they might have not been able to before; and it does allow them to
save. That’s an important piece. When you’re working, you might be able to
save some money that you might have not been able to before. In the Web pod links, there are some links
where you can look up your state’s information on these programs. Again, 1619(b) or Medicaid while working is
a Social Security work incentive; and you can, again, find this link in the Web pod
under “Medicaid While Working.” For the Medicaid Buy-in Program, you need
to go to your state’s Medicaid agency. You can go to their webpage and look at what
their eligibility requirements are. You can find that, again, in the Web pod under
“State Medicaid Agencies.” Now we’re going to switch gears, and we’re
going to talk about Medicare and work incentives. Remember, Medicare is a federal program under
Social Security. There are some work incentives for Medicare
when you go to work because, again, a lot of people do panic when they go to work that
they’re going to lose their medical coverage. So we’re going to talk about the extended
period of Medicare coverage or the EPMC for short. Then there is Medicare for people with disabilities
who work, which gives you access to Medicare. I’ll talk more about that. Again, one of the things that most people
are most concerned about understandably when you’re working is losing medical coverage. The extended period of Medicare coverage protects
a person’s Medicare from ending due to work right away, so you’re able to keep your Medicare
for a little bit longer if your SSDI benefit does stop because of work. Most SSDI beneficiaries whose benefits stopped
due to work can continue to receive their Medicare for at least 93 consecutive months
after their trial work period ends. Now, this does vary depending when your benefits
stopped and other considerations. So we will talk at the end of this presentation
about how to access benefits counselors. It’s really important to speak with someone
about how all this works because you might be able to get that a little bit longer. It just really does vary, and you need to
know that. Again, Medicare is made out of different parts. Part A is your hospital insurance; Part B
is your supplemental medical insurance…and again, that is automatic but you can opt out…that’s
if you’re enrolled; and then Part D is your prescription drug coverage…and again, you
do have to enroll in that separately, so you can opt out of that. Now, to qualify for the extended period of
Medicare coverage, you have to already have Medicare; and your benefit has to stop because
it’s just a protection when you’re not getting a benefit anymore of your Medicare continuing. And you can’t be medically improved. Social Security does do medical updates every
once in a while, and you can be deemed medically improved. So again, your benefit has to be suspended
due to work. Another option is Medicare for people with
disabilities who work. This is if your premium-free Medicare coverage
ends. Again, Medicare Part A is free; you have a
premium for Medicare Part B and possibly Part D. When they say, “premium-free,” they mean
your Part A Medicare. So this is if your EPMC, or the extended period
of Medicare coverage, ends; so that’s after you use all those work incentives. You could possibly be eligible if you are
not yet 65 because you become eligible as a person who’s 65 or older for Medicare at
65. You have to still have a disabling impairment;
so, again, you can’t be medically improved. And as I just stated, your Medicare has to
have stopped due to work. There are different times you can enroll in
Medicare. For this information, you can call Social
Security. Social Security’s general national hotline
number is 1-800-772-1213, and they’ll direct you to your local office. For help with paying premiums, you can call
Medicare for more information. You will need your Medicare number; and they’ll
ask you what state you live in because, again, that program is called the Medicare Savings
Program, and there are a few other programs. But depending on your state, depends on what
might be available to you. Medicare’s number is 1-800-Medicare, so M-E-D-I-C-A-R-E. SARAH>>All right, Keri and Ashley, thank
you so much for talking through the Ticket to Work program and the path to employment
and work incentives. We are going to go ahead and take a few minutes
to address some of these questions that we’ve been receiving from our audience on these
topics, if you’re both ready. Keri, I have a question for you to start:
“What happens if I move to another state with different thresholds?” KERI>>If you move to a different state, you
need to be prepared for what their eligibility is. So if you qualified in one state that had
a higher threshold into a state that has a lower threshold, you might not qualify because
it is a state-by-state thing. So you do have to be prepared by that. Again, that could be the opposite; you could
come from a state that has a lower threshold and move to a state with a higher threshold,
and you might be eligible still. So you really do have to refer back to what
the state thresholds are. SARAH>>Thank you, Keri. “If I’m offered employer-sponsored insurance,
what happens to my Medicare and/or Medicaid?” ASHLEY>>Keri, do you want to take that one? KERI>>Sure, so if you have employer insurance
offered to you, you have to consider a few things if you have Medicare or Medicaid. First, you have to consider what that employer-sponsored
insurance is…how much is the monthly premium, what will it cover, are there deductibles,
copays? And then you want to look at your Medicare
and your Medicaid to see what they cover and how much those premiums are. You want to be able to sit down with someone
and look at all the different pieces to see what might be the best fit for you. Should you take them for your sponsored insurance? You could possibly stop your Medicare or your
Medicaid because you want to be able to have everything you need covered, so it’s really
important to look at all of that. It really is an individual thing. We’ll talk about, again, how to reach a benefit
counselor in your state. So it’s really important to reach out to someone
and talk about what might be best for you. SARAH>>Okay, thank you. “What happens if I take my employer’s insurance
and I stop working? If I stopped my Medicare Part B and/or Part
D, can I get it back?” KERI>>It’s Keri again. If you take the insurance from your employer
and you stop working for any reason, and you stopped your Medicare Part B and/or D, you
can get it back. It’s called a “special enrollment period”
you have. You have to have the notice saying that your
employer sponsored insurance ended. You can contact Social Security to re-enroll
in Medicare Part B. You have seven months from the date that insurance ends to enroll. After that, there could be penalties. So you really want to pay attention and enroll
as soon as you can. For Part D, you only have 63 days…so about
two months…to enroll in a plan; and, again, you just need that notice that your employer-sponsored
insurance ended and that you were covered during the time you did not have Medicare. So that’s the most important piece Social
Security is looking at…did you have other insurance during the period you stopped your
Medicare. SARAH>>Ashley, the next question that I have
is for you: “What are work incentives?” ASHLEY>>Work incentives…another way to
put it is we call them “special rules.” What they are, are they’re guidelines that
Social Security has put into place that allow individuals to go back to work, to try it
out, make sure it’s going to be the right fit for them before they lose their benefit
right away. So it just gives you that period of time to
test it out and make sure it’s going to be the right fit for you while maintaining those
benefits. SARAH>>Great, thank you, Ashley. I have another question for you: “How many
work incentives are available?” ASHLEY>>There are over 20, but it’s going
to depend on what Social Security program you’re on. There are different work incentives for SSDI
as there are for SSI. SARAH>>Okay, thank you so much, Ashley. The next question is for Keri: “If I’m working,
do I lose the Medicare Savings program?” KERI>>Okay, so that really does vary. The Medicare Savings program has income limits,
and they don’t count your earnings dollar-for-dollar…meaning there are some disregards, so it does lower. But depending on what your Social Security
benefit is and depending on how much you’re making a month could depend if you lose it
or not. Again, I keep referring you back; but it’s
really important to touch base with a benefits counselor and talk it through. We can run through the numbers and tell you
if it will end, when it will end. It really does depend, and there are three
different levels; so again, depending on what income you have will depend on whether you
will continue to have the Medicare Savings program or not. SARAH>>Thank you. Keri, I have another question for you: “If
I’m working before my 24-month Medicare waiting period is up, do I still get Medicare?” KERI>>Yes, you will still get Medicare even
if you are working before that 24-month period is up. That automatically comes to you at 24 months. The only time that might not happen is if
you are deemed medically improved for any reason during that time. But if you are still eligible for benefits,
even if they are in suspension, you can get your Medicare after your 24-month waiting
period is up. SARAH>>Ashley, the next question is for you:
“Is there a tool to help me keep track of the employment networks that I am interested
in?” ASHLEY>>Yeah, I believe it was going to be
mentioned later on in the presentation. The Ticket to Work website can help you to
determine what employment networks are in your area, and that can help you to decide. SARAH>>Okay, thank you very much. Keri, the next question is for you: “What
can you do if you’re not happy with your EN that you’re currently working with?” KERI>>So the Ticket to Work program is voluntary. You basically can interview your employment
network. So if you choose someone and you’re not happy
with them, you can do what you call “unassign your ticket” by calling the Ticket to Work
program and unassigning it. Then you can choose another employment network
or go with vocational rehabilitation. It’s your choice; it’s voluntary; it’s your
option. So that’s important to know. So if you’re not happy at any point, you don’t
have to stick it out and work with something that’s not making you happy and not treating
you with everything you might need. So again, you just unassign your ticket; and
you can go somewhere else and assign your ticket to someone else. SARAH>>Thank you very much, Keri. I have another question for you: “Is it possible
to have employer-sponsored insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid?” KERI>>Yes…so if you opt to have employer-sponsored
insurance, you can certainly keep your Medicare and your Medicaid if you qualify for them
and if you’re in those work incentive phases. Again, you want to look at everything before
you do that because there are costs to Medicare; and there are costs to your employer-sponsored
insurance. And there could possibly be a monthly cost
to the Medicaid as well, depending what type of Medicaid you’re on, so it’s really something
you need to look at and see what covers your needs. SARAH>>Thank you. Ashley, my next question is for you: “I can’t
afford to lose my medical coverage when I work. What are my options?” ASHLEY>>Again, that’s where talking to a
benefits counselor in your state is going to come in handy. There are, again, those different work incentives. That Medicare Buy-in Program, for example,
you still have the ability to perhaps pay for Medicare if you lose your Medicare, as
well as those different Medicaid incentives…so 1619(b), if you’re still falling under that
threshold, that can help you to keep that Medicaid as well as the Medicaid Buy-in programs
for your state. If you still meet those guidelines, then you
may be able to work and still maintain the medical insurance. SARAH>>Okay, thank you. “Is buy-in and spenddown the same thing?” This question is for Keri. KERI>>No, the Medicaid Buy-in Program is
a different program than Medicaid with a spenddown or a monthly deductible. The Medicaid Buy-in Program actually gives
you access to Medicaid, where you might have had a monthly spenddown before. For those of you that don’t know what a spenddown
is, a spenddown is the amount you have to incur out-of-pocket every month before you
have access to Medicaid, where the Medicaid Buy-in Program does have higher income and
resource limits, so it allows you to access Medicaid right away every month. Again, there might be a monthly premium depending
on your state and depending on your income; but it does give you access to that. That’s why that Medicaid program is so important. SARAH>>Excellent. Keri, another question for you: “Do all employer
insurances complement Medicare consistently?” KERI>>Medicare would be your secondary insurance. A lot of times it acts the same as employer-sponsored
insurance, and that’s why you really need to look at your individual case and see what’s
being covered. It can complement, but sometimes it is just
duplicate. SARAH>>Okay, great. Ashley, I have a question for you: “Can I
use work incentives even if I find a job on my own and I don’t work with a Ticket to Work
service provider like a state VR agency or an EN?” ASHLEY>>Yeah, absolutely…the work incentives
are available to anybody who receives SSDI or SSI. Enrolling your ticket in the Ticket to Work
program is not a requirement to access those work incentives. SARAH>>Keri, I have a question for you: “When
working, is Medicare the primary insurance in company-provided insurance supplementaries? What happens if coverage is incorrectly addressed? KERI>>If you take your employer-sponsored
insurance, that is primary; and Medicare becomes secondary insurance. If you have both and you go to the doctor
and there’s an error versus that, it’s really something that has to be addressed at the
doctor’s office; or sometimes you do have to call your insurance to figure it out because
it is so individualized. But your employer-sponsored insurance is primary,
so that should be paying the bills first. SARAH>>Okay, thank you both for the thorough
answers to the questions sent in by our participants. Although we do have more questions for you,
which we will address later in the webinar, we’re going to stop right here. Before we move on, I would like to remind
everyone that accessible materials from today’s webinar are available either in the Web Links
pod or in your confirmation e-mail for today’s webinar; or you can always e-mail Ticket to
Work at: [email protected] I’m going to go ahead and turn things back
over to Keri, who is going to share some information about benefits counseling. Thanks, Keri. KERI>>Okay, so we’re going to talk about
benefits counseling that I referred to a few times during my presentation a few minutes
ago. So what is benefits counseling? Through the Ticket to Work program, there
is access to benefits counseling…either through the employment networks that might
have one on their own or through a program called the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance,
or WIPA, program that every state has at least one of. With benefits counseling, we are trained to
help you with understanding your Medicare and your Medicaid. Especially if you are working, it’s really
important to know…are they going to stop, will I have access, when are they going to
stop…so you’re prepared each step of the way. We are trained in work incentives for SSDI,
Social Security Disability Insurance, and SSI, Supplemental Security Income. We also are state trained, so that means we
have knowledge of Medicare Savings programs, food stamps or SNAP, which is the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program. We might also be able to help give you guidelines
for fuel assistance and lodging assistance and housing. Housing is really important if you receive
subsidized or Section 8. You want to know how that might affect your
rent every month. So we have a vast knowledge of how all these
pieces work together because, again, depending on what you receive, it’s really important
to know step-by-step what’s going to happen, when will it happen; and we can be there to
support that through your whole employment journey. There are different providers that do benefit
counseling. Again, I mentioned this; but it’s the Work
Incentives Planning and Assistance, or WIPA, projects who are certified through Social
Security to provide this information. Your state vocation rehabilitation agencies
may have a benefits counselor on staff; and employment networks, including workforce employment
networks, might have a benefits counselor on staff or work with benefits counselors. So no matter what Ticket to Work agency you
work with, you have access to somebody; and, again, if the vocational rehabilitation employment
networks don’t have someone on staff, every state has at least one Work Incentives Planning
and Assistance program. So you can definitely have access to that. So what is the WIPA program…again, Work
Incentives Planning and Assistance? It’s a program through Social Security that
is free to any beneficiary of SSDI or SSI. So it is not a cost to you. You have access if you are on SSDI or SSI. They are staffed by community work incentives
coordinators or CWICs. Again, we are certified through Social Security
to provide this information to beneficiaries of Social Security. We can provide in-depth counseling. We will sit down with you and go through what
your employment goals are. Are you working now, or are you going to be
working soon? What income affects your benefits? How will it be affected? When will they be affected? So we really do sit down and give you individualized,
in-depth counseling and make sure that you understand all the steps during your journey
and when things are going to happen; or it’s just sometimes knowing that you can pick up
the phone or e-mail someone, and we can answer you right back and explain what’s happening. If you receive anything from Social Security
or your state agency about the benefits that you don’t understand or you can be nervous
about, we can help you along that journey with most things. So who is eligible for WIPA services? You have to have been the beneficiary of SSDI
or SSI; or if you’re not currently receiving SSDI, you have to have SSDI-related Medicare. Again, if you’re not receiving SSI, you have
to be receiving SSI-related Medicaid, which is the Section 1619(b) Medicaid. You have to be working or self-employed. If you’re not, you can still call the Ticket
to Work Help Line, which there will be information on how to contact them in a few slides. But they can give you generalized information. If you have a job offer pending or you’re
actively going on interviews, you’ll also be priority through the WIPA programs; and
we will be able to get in touch with you and work with you. If you’re a veteran or if you’re what they
call a transition-aged youth, which is age 14 through 25, and that’s even if you’re in
earliest ages of considering to work. So you don’t necessarily have to be working
or actively interviewing if you’re 14 to 25. But again, if you call the Ticket to Work
Help Line, which I will give you the information of how to contact the Help Line, they will
give you general information. If you meet these priorities, you’ll be referred
to the WIPA program that covers your county. So why would you want to work with the WIPA
program? What can we give you? We will help you understand all the work incentives
that are available to you. We, again, will help you understand how work
will affect your benefits, when that income will affect your benefits, when things might
stop. So we’ll be able to help you get that informed
information so you can make the best decision for you. We can also help you with the Ticket to Work
program…explaining what it is, if it might be right for you, give you the information
to your state vocational rehabilitation vocational rehabilitation and employment networks that
cover your area. Again, a lot of what we do is dispel the myths
that people hear. We always hear those stories of, “My neighbor
has this, and this is what happened.” You have to know every person gets different
benefits; they have different situations. So even though your neighbor’s benefits might
have stopped, you don’t know why or what happened. There are so many different scenarios that
really you have to contact a benefits counselor, sit down, and we will go through everything
just for you and make sure you know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. So it’s really important because there are
a lot of myths out there. We always hear those…my medical is going
to end and my benefits are going to end; and that’s not necessarily true. So what is the state vocational rehabilitation,
VR, agency? They’re a state agency that can help people
with any disability return to work. They will sit down with you, figure out what
your skills are, what your employment goal is, you’ll do an employment plan, and they’ll
be able to guide you into employment…especially if it’s the first time you’re going back to
the workforce. VR agencies also can help you get the training
you might need to obtain your employment goal, and they can help you with postsecondary education. So if you need to go back to school for a
few classes or if you need to obtain an associate’s or a certificate, they can help guide you
along that journey. Now, some states also have separate programs
for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. So you want to look into your state to see,
if you are blind or visually impaired, if they have a separate program within your VR
agency. So what are employment networks? An employment network, or an EN, is a private
or public organization that has signed up with Social Security to provide free employment
support to individuals who are eligible for either SSDI or SSI. There are also what they call “workforce employment
networks,” which are like American Job Centers. So depending on your state, there might be
different options available to you. So what can ENs and VR agencies provide to
you? Besides benefits counseling, they will help
you with what is your employment goal, what career are you planning. They can sit down and help you explore that. They can help with the job search. So, okay, what are you looking for, what do
we need to do? They can help you fill out applications. Especially a lot of applications are online;
they can help you guide that. VR agencies may also have training programs
depending on what your employment goal is and what you are looking to do. You might need a little bit more training;
or if it’s a different path, you might need to enter a different program. There are special programs for veterans and
youth in transition, and they can provide ongoing employment support…meaning that
they can help you, even once you have that job. They can help answer questions; they can maybe
help you if something difficult came up at work; they can help you through that and answer
your questions and just work with you. They can also provide assistance with requesting
job accommodations…what are your rights, what are you allowed to ask for? So depending on what job you end up with depends
on the accommodation you may or may not need, but they can help you understand all of that
and work with you to request it. So where can you go to see who your employment
networks or VR agency or workforce agency are? Or there’s another agency called the Protection
and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security, or your PABSS…so they can help you. If you come up with a situation, they can
help advocate. In the Web Links pod underneath your “Employment
Team” is a link that brings you to this website that has all the information for your local
programs and what’s available to you. So that is really important. That website does give you a lot of information,
and you can see all your different choices. So I talked about this a few times…the Ticket
to Work Help Line. It is trained with people that are very knowledgeable
in what the Ticket to Work program is, what Work Incentives Planning and Assistance programs
are. So they can provide you with general information,
or they could refer you to your local WIPA as well. For the Ticket to Work program, what they’ll
do is they’ll print out a list of your employment networks, including vocational rehabilitation
agencies, and send that to you so you can access any of them and make your choice of
what agency might work best for you. So the Ticket to Work Help Line is open Monday
through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. The phone number is 1-866-968-7842. Again, it is really important to call the
Help Line first, especially for your local WIPA program, because they will refer your
information to us; and we can get back to you and work with you. That way, it kind of more guarantees that
someone will be in touch with you. Okay, so I mentioned the website for Ticket
to Work. Now, on this website when you’re looking for
your agencies that can help provide, there are different choices. The first choice is called a Guided Search. Again, in the Web Links pod under the “Find
Help,” tool, you can find it under the Ticket to Work Find Help. Again, it’s the Ticket to Work Find Help Web
link. The Guided Search brings you through different
options. It will ask you different questions…what
you’re looking for, what you need; and then it will be able to pop up the agencies that
would work for you. The other option is the Direct Search. Unlike the Guided Search where it asks you
different questions, this is you put in your ZIP code, and it will bring up all the agencies
within whatever mile radius you might have chosen and show you all the agencies that
are available in your area. Again, there is a Web Links tool. You can find in the Ticket to Work Find Help. If you do the Direct Search and put in your
ZIP Code, there are other questions. Again, you can do mile radius, what options…are
you looking for employment networks, are you looking for WIPA programs? It will pop up anything you are asking for. There are some tips that can help you when
trying to choose a Ticket to Work service provider…what questions to ask them. Again, you can interview the Ticket to Work
agencies…will it work for you…because you want to find an agency that will best
fit your needs. You have to be working with them, so you have
to be comfortable with who you’re working for. [Pause]
Okay, sorry about that. Under the Web Links pod, you can find for
choosing an employment network. Look for finding an EN and then finding your
ticket, and then choosing the right EN for you. Again, those are in the Web Links pod. Okay, I’m going to talk about success stories. You can find the link to Amy’s story, again,
in the Web Links pod under “Success Story, Amy.” So Amy has a developmental disability, and
she had struggles during school. She faced a lot of challenges figuring out
what her path would be; and she persevered through that, and she did let those struggles
stop her from pursuing opportunities that would help her succeed once school ended. After she finished high school, she started
a few college courses; and she did go and find a job as a banker. She also applied and was found eligible for
Supplemental Security Income, SSI; but she wanted more from that. She felt underemployed. So she decided to work with her state vocational
rehabilitation agency, and that was in Maryland. She was able to work with a counselor to see
what her options were to meet her employment goal. Now she had that support to help prepare her
to become more independent and find employment that would work for her. So they came up with a goal, and she was also
able to get guidance on how employment would affect her Social Security disability benefits
by working with a benefits counselor; again, that’s really important to be able to answer
any of your questions…having that support not only for the employment side but the benefit
side of being able to work and get your questions answered and that support. Once she was working, she was able to work
with an employment network through a partnership with VR. So once her VR case was closed, she was able
to go work with an employment network to be able to support her in her employment journey. So even though she was employed, she was still
able to get that support of somebody who was able to help her with any questions she had. Now, through the benefits counselor, she was
able to learn about what work incentives were available to her and how was employment going
to affect or Social Security benefits, her medical benefits. Because our goal is to support someone so
they can succeed in their employment journey, so any questions she might have had, we were
able to support that. So through the benefits counselor and the
work incentive program, she was able to learn about Medicaid while working…again, Section
1619(b) Medicaid continuation. So she was able to know that she would still
get medical coverage even if her SSI benefits stopped due to work. And that’s really important for a lot of people. She also found out about other work incentives,
such as if all her benefits stopped she might be able to get back on through something called
“expedited reinstatement,” where you might not have to do a whole new application; you
might be able to get right back on Social Security benefits. So things like that are really important to
know, to have that knowledge that if your benefits stop because of work but you need
to go back on for any reason, where it might be available to you. So with all this support, she was able to
feel confident and go about exploring her employment options. She enrolled in the Project Search, which
is a school-to-work training program for young adults with developmental disabilities. It’s a great program that runs about nine-ten
months, and you are able to get internships; and they really do teach you every aspect
of becoming employed and being employed. And you’re able to get that hands-on experience. So through Project Search, Amy worked as an
intern at the county’s Department of Finance. Now, she found that work to be something she
enjoyed; and she was also able to get back to that environment too. Her supervisor said she had a lot of energy,
and her work ethic was great. So through that, she was able to get that
experience. She loved the aspects of it. She learned a lot, and she was able to grow;
and she was able to stay there and move up. So through her internship, she got a job and
was able to get benefits stopped; and she was able to get a full-time job, and she was
able to get that support. So even years later, she is still at the Department
of Finance; and she’s still evolving there, and she’s growing. Again, through that agreement with VR and
the employment network, she was able to get what they call “postemployment support.” So once you’re already employed, you’re able
to get that support for any questions you might need. They were able to work on her soft skills
with job coaching. So she had some anxiety. They were able to work with her to reduce
that, (inaudible), manage impulses, exercise flexibility, and learn appropriate workplace
protocols. So they’re able to work with you to learn
every aspect that you might need for any questions asked; and they’ll be able to help get the
tools you need to be able to help with that. So they regularly checked in on her and were
able to work with her. So through all of these experiences, all of
these supports, Amy was able to work her way to financial independence where she no longer
received her SSI benefit. She’s part of a Union; she receives benefits
through her job, some medical benefits through her job. So she had security and stability; but she
also knows if anything happens, she has people to look to, to be able to say, “Okay, this
is what the next steps are.” So it really is a success…where she struggled
in school, and now she has a full-time job and work benefits and was really ale to grow
from that. So through all of these supports available…through
the Ticket to Work program, through vocational rehabilitation, through benefits support…she
was really able to be confident in her journey. SARAH>>All right, Keri, thank you so much. We’re going to go ahead and pause now and
take a few minutes to address some of the questions that we’ve received from our audience
on these topics. Now, because Keri was speaking, most of the
questions are going to be towards her. But, Ashley, if you have anything through
personal experience or any stories or answers that you’d like to contribute, please feel
free to chime in, okay? The first question we have: “Can you tell
me what to expect to continue Medicare coverage after EPMC ends?” KERI>>Each state has a protocol for enrolling
in Medicare after your EPMC has stopped, so you want to go to your Medicaid agency to…oh,
okay, it’s Medicare, so you need to call Social Security. I started talking about the programs that
might be able to help you with the payments, so I apologize. So you would call Social Security, and they
would be able to look into the programs; but there are premiums for Part A and Part B.
So you do need to have knowledge of that because it can be costly because you did have premiums
through Part A; and now there is a cost to it once that EPMC ends. But what I started talking about is that states
have programs that might be able to help you pay the premiums if you meet the income and
resource limits; and, again, that does vary by state. SARAH>>Thank you, Keri. To follow that up: “Is the cost of Medicaid
and Medicare set; or if I have an employer-sponsored insurance, will I pay more?” KERI>>The Medicare premium is set. Someone might be able to have a lower one;
or if you have penalties, you might have a higher premium. But there is a premium set every year for
how much Medicare is monthly, or a Medicaid premium that does vary from state to state. They have different guidelines of how much
you pay. Now, for your employer insurance, some states
on Medicaid might say, “Oh, you have employer insurance; we’ll lower your premium.” But, again, it really does vary state to state;
so that’s why when I was talking about all the premiums, you really want to sit down
with somebody and say, “Okay, this is what’s available to you; this is how much you would
pay; and these are the discounts you might be able to get.” So it really does vary. SARAH>>Okay, thank you. “You mentioned working with vocational rehabilitation
earlier. If I have a VR counselor now, will that person
have information on the Ticket program?” KERI>>The vocational rehabilitation should
have knowledge of the Ticket to Work program. Because VR works a little bit differently
sometimes than employment networks, they might not know all of it; but they definitely can
get you the information and refer you to where to go to get more information on the Ticket
to Work program. Every vocational rehabilitation agency is
different in states; so some have more knowledge than others, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If they don’t know the answer, they will help
you get that answer. SARAH>>Okay, thank you. Ashley, we do have a question for you: “How
do I find information about employment networks that provide services in my area?” ASHLEY>>Again, if you refer back to that
Ticket to Work “Help Tool” link in the Web Links tool, you can go on there type in your
ZIP code or answer certain questions depending on what you’re looking for, for services because
each network is going to provide different services. And that can help you to find the employment
networks in your area that can serve you. SARAH>>Keri, the next question is for you:
“How do I connect with a service provider? Is there a way to find a specific type of
service provider, such as a state VR agency or an EN?” KERI>>Sure, again, so if you go to that link
in the Web Links pod of “Finding an EN,” or “Meet Your [Employment] Team,” those links
will both bring you to the website where you can do the searches and see what agencies
are in our area and who might be best to help you. SARAH>>Okay, great, thank you. And then next month’s webinar, “Choosing a
Service Provider That’s Right for you,” is on October 23rd and will be covering that
exact topic. So we look forward to having you for that. Keri, I have another question for you: “Could
I be eligible for Medicare as well as Medicaid now if I currently meet the requirements for
SSI and Medicaid?” KERI>>To be eligible for Medicare, you have
to be on SSDI for 24 months. So if you meet that requirement, then you’re
eligible for Medicare. Medicaid…every state has different income
and resource or asset limits; and, again, depending if you’re SSDI or SSI will depend
on if you’re eligible for the Medicaid. So you want to refer to your state Medicaid
agency for the eligibility for the program. SARAH>>Thank you, Keri. “If the employer’s insurance is primary and
Medicare is secondary, is Medicaid third?” KERI>>Yes…so Medicaid is always the payer
of last resort. So no matter how many insurances you have,
Medicaid always pays last. So if you have employer-sponsored insurance,
that’s first; Medicare would be second; and then Medicaid would be third. SARAH>>Keri: “How can I find out if I’m using
any work incentives?” KERI>>I’m going to refer you to your WIPA
program in your state that serves your area because they can help you find out that information. You can also call Social Security and ask
that information if you don’t want to work with somebody; but if you work with the WIPA,
they’re able to explain what those work incentives are and what that means because there isn’t
a way for us to find out what work incentives you have used or might be available to you
if you haven’t started using them yet. SARAH>>Ashley, I have a question for you:
“I’m interested in participating in the Ticket program. How do I get started?” ASHLEY>>A good way to get started would be
to use that Ticket to Work Help tool. Again, it’s in the Web Links box. That will help you to find the networks that
are using the Ticket to Work program and who can provide you the services that the Ticket
to Work program provides. Another way, you can refer to the Ticket to
Work Help Line by calling them and getting in touch with somebody that way as well. SARAH>>Keri, this one is back to you: “Will
a CWIC or benefits counselor be able to tell me all of the work incentives that I’m eligible
for?” KERI>>Yes…so that’s one of our main things
that we do. We’re able to sit down, we’ll find out what
benefits you have, and we’ll go through every work incentive that’s available to you whether
you are waged employment or self-employed. There are different work incentives depending
on what benefits you get and what your employment goal is, but we can definitely sit down and
go through every one that’s available to you. SARAH>>Thank you, Keri. The next question we have for you is: “If
I’m working with an EN that doesn’t have a certified benefits counselor on staff, do
I have to unassign my ticket with the EN to work with my local WIPA to receive benefits
counsel?” KERI>>No, so we are a separate program. You can work with any employment network or
VR in your state that you choose to; and if they don’t have a certified benefits counselor,
you can work with your WIPA program in your area without a problem. SARAH>>Keri, another question for you: “I’ll
be starting to work soon and have worked with a CWIC to learn more about my benefits and
work incentives, but I think I’ll need additional services and support to transition to the
workplace. Can my CWIC help me to connect with an EN?” KERI>>We can’t help you choose the specific
EN you’re working with, but we can definitely get you the information of the local ENs that
work in your area and the local VR and go through what options you have and what might
be the best fit. We can’t directly help you choose one, but
we can definitely give you the tools for you to choose one. SARAH>>Thank you, Keri. Ashley, I have a question for you: “Do I need
to pay anything to participate in the Ticket program?” ASHLEY>>No, the Ticket to Work program is
completely free. As long as you’re a beneficiary of SSDI or
SSI, those services are there for you to use as you wish and at no charge. SARAH>>Ashley, another question for you:
“Can a service provider help me with the accommodation request process?” ASHLEY>>If you are talking to a service provider,
like an EN network or VR services, yes, they can help you navigate that process, help you
understand what is an accommodation and what sort of accommodations are you eligible for
and how to approach your employer about those accommodations. SARAH>>Ashley, I have one more question for
you: “Do I need to have the paper ticket sent to me by Social Security in order to participate
in the program?” ASHLEY>>No, there was at one point in time
a real paper ticket that was sent to individuals; but that is no longer a thing. It’s just simply a matter of wording at this
point that people use, but you don’t actually have to have a physical piece of paper saying
that you have the Ticket to Work program or anything. SARAH>>Okay, thank you again for being with
us today, Keri and Ashley. It is time to move on; but before we do, I
would like to remind everyone that the accessible materials from today’s webinar are available
either in the Web Links pod or in your confirmation e-mail for today’s webinar or my e-mailing
Ticket to Work at [email protected] We are out of time for questions, as I said,
for today’s webinar. Thank you for sending in all of your questions. We hopefully provided answers to your questions
on the Ticket program. Social Security’s Ticket to Work program has
a number of service providers and other resources ready to help you get started. To get a list of providers in your area or
to get answers to questions that you may have about the Ticket program and other work incentives,
you can contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or, for TTY, 1-866-833-2967,
Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Or you can visit the Ticket to Work website
at: choosework.ssa.gov at any time. You can also find us on social media or subscribe
to the blog and e-mail updates by visiting choosework.ssa.gov/contact. This link appears on the Web Links pod under
“Ticket to Work Contact Information.” Please join us for our next WISE webinar in
this Putting It Together series, “Choosing a Service Provider That’s Right for You.” This will be held on Wednesday, October 23,
2019, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is open, and we look forward
to having you attend. To register online, go to: choosework.ssa.gov/WISE;
and you can call 1-866-968-7842 or, for TTY, 1-866-833-2967. Your feedback is very important to us. It helps us plan future webinars. Please provide your feedback and tell us what
you think about today’s webinar by taking our survey. To take the survey, you can follow the link
that will pop up after the webinar or visit the Ticket to Work website to complete the
survey.

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