WISE Webinar 2016-03: Financial Freedom Goal Setting, Work Incentives and Financial Independence

>>So today everyone is in listen only mode
and that way we’ll be able to make sure that we get to your questions in a good manner.
So, if you’re having any audio issues we ask that you make sure your speakers are turned
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not have sound capabilities, you’re just having technical difficulties you can certainly dial
into our toll-free number. That number today is 1-800-832-0736 and the access code is 8458462.
And again that’s how you dial in using your phone. We’re going to talk a little bit about
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varying accessibility needs so feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions or
tips for us as we start to make these presentations as accessible as possible. Real-time captioning
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corner of the webinar platform. You’ll see it’s called closed captioning and it does
have some streaming text right now. If you would like to access the captioning online
you can
do that by visiting the following website, www.captiontext.com/ client/sn.aspx?customerid
=846*eventid=2884257. That sounds great. It sounds like
we might have figured out how to turn off
those noises. So, thank you for bearing with us on that. In reference to the captioning
link I would also like to point out another pod that’s on your screen, which is called
resources and links and this pod is where you will find that captioning link but also
a couple of other links today. We have our links to Social Security’s website which will
be referenced throughout his presentation. We also have a link to saved materials, which
are available in accessible PDF and [inaudible] main document. We will be accepting questions
and answers today. To ask a question we ask that you use the Q&A pod which is on the upper
right-hand side of your screen. And we’ll be looking at those throughout the presentation.
Please do keep in mind that there are a lot of people attending today’s webinar so we
may not be able to get to everyone’s questions. If you’re listening by phone and you’re not
logged into the webinar console you can email your questions to [email protected]
Please note that this webinar is also being recorded and the archive will be available
on the Choose Work website which is www.choosework.net. If we’re not able to get to your question
today we do recommend contacting the call center and that information will also be available
to you at the presentation and we’ll get to that contact information a little bit later.
Bear with me for just one second. My apologies. We are playing around with a little bit of
new technology today. So for technical assistance if you experience any technical difficulties
during this webinar as we’ve had a bit of a rough start, I do ask that you use the Q&A
box, not the chat box, my apologies, to send a message to our host Nakia Matthews. She
is also available by email at [email protected] So to review today’s agenda I have the responsibility
of welcome and introductions. I am Jayme Pendergraft with NDI Consulting. And we are joined today
by Elizabeth Jennings from the National Disability Institute. She is going to talk to us a little
bit about what financial independence actually is and some of the resources that you can
access on your journey to financial independence. We’ll then be joined by Marlene Ulisky who
is going to talk with us about Social Security disability benefits. She’s going to explain
work incentive information and will also be around to take your questions about any of
those benefits and work incentives information. And then Elizabeth will come back and talk
to us about some more resources that are available out there once you’ve started working and
as you begin to save. Then you’ll hear from me again with some other resources and then
the entire team will be available to answer all of your questions and answers. So now
I’m going to turn it over to Elizabeth to talk about what financial independence actually
is. Elizabeth Jennings is the Deputy Director of the National Disability Institute. She
is a national trainer on Social Security benefits and asset development strategies for people
with disabilities and she has a lot of experience talking about this subject and we are thrilled
to have her as our guest presenter today. So, with that Elizabeth please take it away.>>Thank you so much Jayme. Good afternoon
everyone. It’s really exciting to be with you. There’s over 300 of you on the line today,
so every beep was the new person joining. And I think today’s conversation is really
about coming to a point in time where you’ve decided that some of the things you’re doing
could use some fine tuning, much like the webinar platform and so it’s always going
to be a little bit rocky to start, but in the long run it’s going to be much better.
So I’m very excited that you’re all here and I just want to give you each a round of applause
for taking this first step of coming on and learning a little bit about financial independence
and some of the strategies that you really may not have known about that are available
to you. So when we say financial independence we know that it’s very personal and individual.
And it’s about being able to support yourself to meet your wants and needs and that’s what
you define for yourself. It’s also being able to make choices and have options about what
you want to buy or not buy, where you live, what you do with your free time. And for many
of you on the line it means not being limited by your Social Security disability benefits
and possibly to the level that you’re able to working your way off cash benefits, again
as you’re able to. So many of you may be asking is this really possible for me. And today
we’re going to give you an overview of several programs, services and even work incentives
that you can use to improve your financial independence and help yourself make a plan
and get on the road to having more of the financial life that you probably planned for
at one point or that you’d like to start planning for now. There’s a lot of tools out there
to support you and in this diagram you have just some of them. You can see that there’s
work and unfortunately it’s really hard to improve your financial independence if work
isn’t a component of your plan. You have to have some way to balance out the kind of income
gap that you’re likely experiencing. And for folks who are receiving SSI or SSDI as a good
majority of you on the webinar today are, that can feel risky. So we’re going to take
some time to talk to you about the work incentives that are available to you to support you as
you make that transition to work and the ticket to work program, which can be a pathway to
work that you may or may not fully, fully understand. We’re going to start off by talking
about S.M.A.R.T. goals. And this can help you do something that you’re striving to attain.
You know it can be really hard to stay motivated. Many of us understand this through dieting
or through anything in life that we’ve tried to do. If you don’t have a really clear goal
it can be easy to become kind of disheartened. So we’re going to talk about how to set those
goals and then how to employ some of the strategies that are available like budgeting, banking,
credit, the earned income tax credit, which can give you money back for having gone to
work and individual development accounts, which are matched savings accounts that are
available in communities all across the country. So how do you get started? Well we think a
great first step is to set a goal. And this will give you something to focus on and work
towards. By creating S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself and we’ll go over in just a second,
you can make your dream of financial independence a reality and you can have this very measurable
way that you’re going to approach it. So let’s talk a minute about S.M.A.R.T. goals and what
that means. Well S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym so it means having a specific goal, a very
precise goal. So for some of you on the line this can be as simple as I would like to have
more nutritious food for my family or I would like to make sure that I have reliable transportation
three days a week at the cost of $20 per trip, whatever it is. You want it to be something
that’s precise. It may be bigger. I need assistive technology and I want to participate in an
assistive technology program. It may be even bigger that you want to start planning for
a larger financial goal like support yourself or a family member to go to college or purchasing
a home. Whatever your goal is it should be specific to you and you want it to be something
very precise. Just saying I want to have more money isn’t really precise enough. You also
want it to be measurable. You want to have ways that you can know that you’re working
towards your goal. So, a measurable goal may be I’m going to save $50 per month or I’m
going to save five dollars per week or I’m going to reduce the amount that I spend by
a certain amount of money. You want something that’s measurable so you can help yourself
keep track of that and know, be able to feel really proud of yourself when you hit those
points. You also want to make sure it’s attainable. You know we’d all love to be a millionaire.
Is that really an attainable goal? For some of you maybe. Maybe it is in the long run,
but you want to make sure that it’s going to be an attainable goal. And you want it
to be realistic and to me realistic is more about is it something that you really want?
Is it something that you’re going to continue to work towards, because if it’s not something
that’s going to ultimately bring you joy, meet your needs, you’re not going to stay
motivated and keep working towards it. And then you want to set a date for achieving
your goal. I know for myself if the date is too far out I tend to either forget or I don’t
feel so motivated by a long-term, a long timeline. I need something that’s more quick. So I like
to have a monthly goal and then you can build those months towards this larger timeline
that you have. So now that you have a goal you would like to identify money that you
need to reach that goal. And there’s a few ways that you can identify this money that
we want to talk to you about today. One is cost savings, another is money that’s owed
to you and the third is earned income. So let’s explore each of these. So one of the
first things you can do is create a budget. And this can help you make the best use of
your money and help you reach your goal. Now I want to be thoughtful to say I know that
most of you on the line know exactly where every penny goes. So a budget is not always
for understanding where your money goes. But it can help you to be able to see everything,
so a lot of us know where our money goes but we don’t document it. We don’t track it with
pen and paper. Also we may know where our money goes but we haven’t thought about are
there ways that we can change up some of this or are there other members of the family that
we can engage in this to kind of get everybody on board towards this bigger goal. So a budget
can have a lot of uses. It can, primarily it can help you to really take a look at where
the money is going, whether or not there’s some room to move things around and it does
help a lot if you also put down within your budget kind of when things are due. So if
you have all of your money coming in, say you’re on SSI and it’s coming in at the beginning
of the month this can help you look at how much money is going out right away at the
beginning and let you see how much you have to get through the rest of the month. It can
give you a good idea of exactly what’s going on and how you’re going to think through setting
aside this additional income towards reaching that goal. If you’ve never done a budget,
which a lot of Americans haven’t there are a few places that you can go to create a budget.
One is your local Center for Independent Living. So every community has a Center for Independent
Living and they are there specifically to support individuals with disabilities in living
independently. And budgeting is a big part of that. So you can find the location nearest
you by going to www.ilru.org/htlml/ publications/directory/index.html. And remember these slides are going to be
archived and available for you so you don’t have to get down these links right now. And
then there’s a couple of resources that you can also go to online if you’d like to think
through doing this yourself. One is called Money Smart. The FDIC, that’s the group that
insures our money when we invest it in banks and other protected entities. FDIC has put
together really great financial education that walks you through how you can do several
things around building your financial capability. And that’s kind of your ability to understand
your money and make good financial choices. And they have all of this available to you
online. So you can check out Money Smart at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html.
again these slides are going to be available to you. And then National Disability Institute
we put together a Zero-Balance Spending Plan. We made this as a self-paced learning course.
It’s completely free to you. You can locate it on our website, actually on our eLearning
platform at ndi.elogiclearning.com. And when you go in there there’s a few self-paced learning
courses. You’re welcome to take any of them that interest you. But the Zero-Balance Spending
Plan goes through all of the different types of income you have, all of the different types
of expenses. It gives you a lot of tips on cost savings strategies and how to engage
your whole family in working towards a collective goal so you’re not the only one that’s kind
of focused on the money and how to spend less. So these are some great resources that you
can use for budgeting. Another place that folks tend to spend some money is in their
financial services. And you’d be really surprised to know that for individuals with disabilities.
Over 40% either are unbanked or underbanked meaning that they have no checking or savings
account or they do have a checking or savings account but they are also using other more
predatory financial services. So I really want to encourage you to think about your
savings and checking accounts and if you don’t have one, think about opening one. Having
a savings and checking account with a bank or a credit union makes sure that your money
is safe and you’re going to need that to have a safe savings account to save for your goal.
And for a checking account it ensures that your money is safe while also giving you quick
access to your money to pay for bills, to buy things and to know that you have a financial
institution that’s also there to support you. And I know that that may sound odd to some
of you. Your relationship with a bank or credit union may not have always been that great
but as you gain in your financial capability, you know as you start to save towards a goal,
maybe pay down some debt, build your credit which we’re going to talk about in a few minutes,
it’s only if you have an established relationship with a bank or a credit union that you’re
really going to have that pathway to a loan or you know other things that you may need
to increase your financial mobility to help yourself move forward in your financial life.
So you have a lot of choices when it comes to opening a bank account. So we wanted to
give you a couple of programs that you can check out and they can help you think through
some of the banking needs that you may have as well as who’s the right bank or credit
union for me. So in many areas across the country there’s bank on programs that work
with banks and credit unions to make it easy for people to engage in joining a bank and
that’s www.joinbanon.org. Now if you are more interested in a credit union you can find
a credit union in your local area by visiting www.mycreditunion.gov. Whether you join a
bank or a credit union is really your own choice. If you’re somebody who has had challenges
in banking in the past maybe due to a loss of income you had checks bounce and things
of that nature and you’re having a hard time joining a bank, a credit union may be a better
option for you. They have programs that allow you to rejoin them at the financial institution
and they also have some really great programs to help you build credit slowly. So a credit
union can be a great option. I also want to take one more minute on banking to say I know
that if you’re on the line and you are receiving SSI or SSDI you may, you either have your
check direct deposited or you receive it on a prepaid card. And there’s nothing wrong
with a prepaid card. That prepaid card may work great for you. That’s awesome. But if
you’re starting to think about moving forward in your financial mobility, meaning you’re
going to start to think about having some kind of a loan, then it’s really important
to make sure that you also have a banking relationship. So you don’t have to give up
the prepaid card that you’re benefit, that you receive your benefits on, but you may
still want to think about opening a bank account so that you are going to have an established
financial relationship that you can lean on in the future when you need to. So we talked
about this for just a second, but let’s go a little bit deeper into credit. Credit is
another tool for becoming financially independent. It’s really your reputation as a borrower
and having good credit means that banks and businesses are going to let you buy an item
before you pay for it. And if you have good credit it’s easier to get loans from the bank
for large items like a home or car and to pay for emergence expenses. You know another
opportunity to build credit is through assistive technology loan funds and if you have an assistive
technology need you do want to start thinking about is that something that you could do,
participate in a loan fund and think through, sometimes with those funds, what are some
ways to build my credit to make sure that I can participate in that opportunity. So
if you want to learn more about credit and most of us that live here in America we don’t
know a lot about our credit, but there are some credit resources that you can use. You
can use free annual credit report. I’m sorry you can pull your free annual credit report
to see what’s on it. And you can do that at www.annualcreditreport.com. Now I know you’ve
seen commercials for freecreditreport.com. That’s not actually the one that does the
federal government kind of sponsor I had in mind. The one that you want is annualcreditreport.com.
And this will not give you your credit score, but it will let you look to see what’s on
your credit report. Are there errors? Are there things that might be driving your score
down and things that you can contact the different bureaus to, bureaus credit bureaus to have
fixed. Also you can talk to credit reporting agencies to address these errors. Or if you
have a hard time with that you can visit www.consumerfinance.gov with questions. I myself have had to fix errors
on my credit report and it can be a little bit tricky. So you, please don’t hesitate
to reach out to consumerfinance.gov with questions. They also have a place on their website where
you can let them know that something’s not working. You can let them know that a different
credit bureau is not being responsive or that you’re having a hard time getting something
addressed. And then a big part of credit is having debt. So when we have debt or sometimes
it’s credit card debt, that’s very common, we may have a loan that we’re not able to
repay. We may want to consider getting some support in ways that we can decrease our debt
and over the years credit counseling has kind of gotten a bad name. But there’s the National
Foundation for Credit Counseling. It’s nfcc.org and they are a reputable non-profit organization
that you can turn to for support in just looking at financial education, getting some support
in ways to decrease your debt and that in turn will help you to work on your credit.
We partner with nfcc.org here at National Disability Institute and so I want you to
know that they’re a reputable organization that you can turn to and you don’t have to
worry that you’re going to be put into the hands of a predatory organization. Okay, so
we’ve looked at how we’re going to do some cost savings by looking at our budget and
our credit. Now let’s look at how you might get some money back to you and that’s through
the earned income tax credit and that’s through, comes from the IRS. So what the IRS does is
they give you a tax credit for working. The earned income tax credit is a tax credit for
low to moderate income workers ages 25 to 64 or 18 to 54 if you have a qualifying child.
It’s kind of been a myth over the years that you have to have a child to claim the earned
income tax credit. It’s not true. You only have to have a child, qualifying child if
you’re under age 25. You can file for the credit even if you didn’t earn enough to require
you to file taxes. So a lot of people who miss out on the earned income tax credit are
folks who didn’t have a tax liability. They say and maybe one of you on the line is like
this. You look and you say I really don’t owe enough that I have to pay taxes. I didn’t
earn enough that I have to pay taxes so I’m not going to file. But I want to encourage
you to file because you are the exactly the target market that may be eligible for the
earned income tax credit. If you haven’t taken the time to file over the past few years you
can file and do back filing for up to three years back so that you can get more of a credit.
Using the earned income tax credit you can receive up to $6,269 this year. It was a little
bit less in previous years. It tends to go up each year and that’s money that you will
receive because you worked and you earned up to a maximum amount and you filed your
taxes. Very, very important that you filed your taxes. If you are not sure about how
to file your taxes or you’d like some support, there’s multiple entities that can assist
you at that. There’s the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which you can call
at 1-800-906-9887 called VITA site. These are available in almost every community and
they will do your taxes for free. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) they
also provide free tax preparation and they’re available at 1-888-227-7669. And you can also
visit the IRS website at irs.gov/eitc to learn more. I do want to take a moment to make sure
you know that your earned income tax credit, your tax return, your child care tax credit,
none of those count against any federally funded public benefits. So the income you’ll
receive on that count against your SSI, your SSDI, youre Medicaid, your Medicare, your
food stamps, your TANF, any of those programs. And it will count as an asset for 12 months
from the time that it’s deposited. So earned income tax credit can be a great opportunity
for you to get some money back because you took the risk and you went to work. Alright,
I’m going to give it back to Jayme for some information on your disability benefits and
work incentives to help you achieve your financial goal.>>Thank you so much Elizabeth. And I am actually
going to hand it right over to Marlene Ulisky, excuse me. Marlene works with Social Security
for 35 years and she is an expert in disability benefits programs and she is currently working
with NDI Consulting in helping some folks navigate complex benefits issues. So she is
a fantastic presenter who will be joining us today to talk about those disability benefits
programs and work incentives. So Marlene, take it away.>>Great thank you Jayme. Thanks for moderating
this afternoon and I’d like to thank my other colleagues from NDI who are working behind
the scenes and thank Elizabeth for sharing such valuable information. And I also want
to thank [inaudible] from Social Security for the opportunity to share information this
afternoon. Before we get started on this portion of the presentation on SSDI and work incentives
and how work can help you to achieve your financial independence goal last but not least,
I want to join Elizabeth in thanking you for attending and congratulate on taking this
big step on the road to financial independence. As Elizabeth said, if you’re participating
in this webinar today, chances are real good that you’re either receiving a benefit under
of the programs shown on your screen or you work for an agency which provides assistance
or services to individuals with disabilities. But in either case, it really is a big step
in the right direction. Now the Social Security Disability [inaudible] Supplemental Security
Income program are two of the largest programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.
But in both programs we know that many of you out there are very limited in achieving
your financial independence goals if you rely on the benefits alone. And we know that in
some cases benefits barely meet your daily needs let alone allow for disposable income
to reach those goals or other goals. Think about supplemental security income alone.
We know that the maximum amount an individual can receive in a state without supplementation
is $733. Now I don’t know about you, but $733 doesn’t go very far for basic necessities.
Think about the grocery store alone and how much you spend there. So Elizabeth said, in
order to meet your financial independence goals we look, we need to look at some other
things other than just benefits, like working. So we’ll talk about that and how you can achieve
your goals. But first before we do that we need to build a little foundational knowledge
of the Social Security benefit programs because it’s really vital that you know under which
program you are receiving a benefit. And we’ll talk about some of the common work and a key
program, the Ticket to Work program which actually is your pathway to work. So you can
see on your screen Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or SSDI and it actually
pays benefits to you as an adult and to certain members of your family if you apply for the
benefit and if you meet all of the rules. So in addition to having a disability, one
of the primary rules is that you need to meet an insured status requirement. And what that
means is you must have worked long enough and recently enough and paid FICA taxes or
some folks call them payroll taxes. Now SSDI can also pay benefits to what’s called a disabled
adult child. And that is a person who became disabled prior to the age of 22. Now disabled
adult child is [inaudible] who had a parent and is either receiving a disability benefit
from Social Security or retirement benefits from Social Security or is deceased and was
insured. Now, there’s no income or resource requirements under this program. And in most
cases and for most people Medicare comes along with this benefit after a 24-month waiting
period. Now if you’re not sure what type of a benefit you receive an easy way to know
that you’re receiving this type of a benefit is when you receive your benefits. If it is
on the 3rd of the month or on a Wednesday, that would be the second, third or fourth
Wednesday of the month it’s likely you’re receiving an SSDI benefit. Now the other program
under which Social Security pays a disability based benefit is SSI or supplemental security
income. So if you have a disability and you haven’t worked much during your lifetime or
maybe you have little or no paid work history or maybe you have some gaps in your work history
or your employment and you don’t meet that insured status requirement, you can actually
qualify for benefits under this program if you have limited income and limited resources.
Because SSI is a needs based program, it’s needs tested and it’s meant for people with
little or no income or few resources. Now think about it for an individual the resource
limit is $2000. In most states SSI pays up to $733 per month for an individual. And in
this program and in most states Medicaid eligibility automatically comes with SSI eligibility.
Now one way of knowing whether or not you’re receiving this type of benefit again is when
you receive the benefit. If it’s on the first of the month you’re likely receiving an SSI
benefit. Now in addition to these I’d like to add some of you listening today may actually
receive benefits under both programs or what’s called concurrent or concurrent benefits SSDI
and SSI. An individual may possibly qualify for both benefits if their SSDI benefit is
low enough that Social Security can supplement their benefit with supplemental security income
as long as they meet the income and resource requirements and the other rules of the SSI
program. So some of you out there actually may have both Medicare and Medicaid. Now in
this next segment we’re going to talk a little bit about work incentives and on this slide
we see Ben. And we’ve seen been in prior work incentives seminars or webinars. And Ben is
actually holding a sign which says work incentives and he is smiling because he just learned
how they can help to gradually become independent and self-supporting. Now you may ask though
what are work incentives? Now work incentives are actually special rules in place under
Social Security which allow individuals receiving SSDI benefits or SSI or both to test their
ability to work and to become self-sufficient. With using, by using the work incentives in
many cases an individual can still receive a cash benefit or a portion of their cash
benefit and continue their Medicare or their Medicaid. Now with many of the work incentives
they’re different for the different programs and there are a few that are the same for
both programs. But all of them allow you to do some amazing things to help you to reach
your goal. And you’ll see on this screen you can reach the training for new skills or you
can improve the skills you already have or pursue an education or you can try just different
jobs and test your ability to work without fear of the loss of your cash benefits or
your Medicare or your Medicaid. You can start a career and gain confidence. Now shown on
your screen are six of the most common work incentives under Social Security and all are
extremely powerful tools for you to use to become financially independent. And we’ll
go through each of them and I’ll tell you a little bit about each of them. They’re all
wonderful. The first one you see on your screen is the earned income exclusion. And that allows
someone receiving SSI to keep more of their earnings when they work. Now a little earlier
we talked about SSI being the means tested program and we said that other income and
resources are counted or considered. But the great news with the earned income exclusion
by using it after Social Security applies disregard it divides earnings by half and
counts only the remainder when they figure the SSI payment amount. When the calculations
are done you’ll have more money in your pocket by working than by not working. And there
is an added bonus and you don’t often hear about it. That added bonus is this. Remember
we talked a little bit earlier about paying FICA taxes or payroll taxes and I know some
of you out there may be saying I’m paying taxes. How can that help me to achieve financial
independence? [inaudible] when you hear Elizabeth talking about the earned income tax credit
earlier and how it can really help. Just by working did you know that you will be accruing
credits or credits of coverage toward becoming entitled to benefits under the program, the
SSDI program? And by working you’re not only earning more money now to meet some of your
goals, but you’re also planning ahead for your financial future. It’s an unexpected
bonus. The second most common, or the second common work incentive shown on your screen
is protection from medical continuing disability reviews. Now as you probably know after your
disability insurance benefits claim or your SSI claim was approved you’re subject to the
periodic medical reviews and they’re conducted either every year or every three years, five
years or seven years and every three years is actually the most common. But for those
folks who are actually knowledgeable for the Ticket to Work program for those folks between
the ages of 18 and 64, they can actually use their ticket and prevent their regularly scheduled
medical reviews. Now that’s almost too good to be true. But the medical reviews are actually
suspended when they’re using the Ticket. And when I say using the Ticket what I mean by
that is it’s assigned either to an employment network or to vocational rehabilitation and
you’re making kind of like progress towards your role. And that’s really a great protection
for folks who actually, for folks who are actually working and think that Social Security
may think by them working they’re no longer disabled. Another very valuable work incentive
shown on your screen is the trial work period. And that’s available to individuals on the
[inaudible] and that includes disabled adult children. And that allows a person to test
his or her ability to work at any level without it affecting the cash benefits or Medicare.
Now the earnings potential with this particular work incentive is unlimited and it’s a fantastic
way to work towards meeting your goal. And remember, in the SSDI program there aren’t
any resource or income limits. Another valuable work incentive is continuation of Medicare
coverage at the bottom of your screen. Now back in December of 99 Medicare coverage,
coverage was expanded for individuals with disabilities who were working and it was expanded
so much that Medicare continued for at least 93 months after a trial work period. Now think
about that, 93 months of the nine month trial period is 102 months and when you divide that
out that is at least 8-1/2 years of Medicare coverage while you’re working, very valuable.
And that’s free Medicare Part A coverage. It’s such a powerful work incentive. It’s
so value because we all know that without health insurance an illness or an injury can
be catastrophic financially. Another important work incentive shown on your screen is Section
1619b. And that is if your earnings are so high that you receive an SSI benefit and it’s
reduced to zero and there’s no cash payable there’s a special provision that Social Security
has where you may be able to qualify for continued Medicaid coverage. And the last work incentive
we’ll talk about as shown on your screen is expedited reinstatement. And with that sometimes
you’ll hear that called easy back on. The expedited reinstatement is applied to folks
receiving an SSI benefit or an SSDI benefit and that actually work their way off benefits.
It’s a safety net and it allows for immediate reinstatement and up to six months of provisional
benefits without a new application. To qualify for that you would have sixty months from
the date you were terminated to request expedited reinstatement and you may qualify if you’re
still disabled with the same or related impairment and you’re not working or you’re working under
the substantial gainful activity level. And this year the substantial gainful activity
level is $1,130 or $820 for an individual who is blind. Now that’s just a sampling of
some of the work incentives out there for you to use. There’s a lot more. You can find
them if you go to the Social Security website www.socialsecurity.gov/work. And now we’re
going to talk a little bit about the Ticket to Work program. And Ben is there. He’s scratching
his head because he’s starting out on his journey. And I think that is like many of
you. He’s thinking about returning to work and he’s trying to decide is that the right
choice for him? He’s not really sure what path he should take, but he’s done a lot of
research and he heard a lot and he’s been at the website and he knows that there are
work incentives out there and programs out there which can help him. Now he’s still wondering
though like why choose work? I think we have to go back to financial independence and to
goals and what’s important to us. And as Elizabeth had said a little earlier that may be different
for everyone. It is different for everyone. So for many of us work is an option that we
can count upon and we can look at when we want to reach our goals. Now, by choosing
work it actually can allow us to earn more income to meet our goals whether the goal
is something large like a new car or a new apartment or even a home or maybe we want
to pay for an education or start a business or maybe it’s a smaller goal. Maybe we want
a large screen TV or iPhone or something along those lines. But work too can actually help
us to gain more independence. Maybe you want to move out of your parent’s home or maybe
you want to get your own apartment instead of sharing an apartment or maybe you want
to relocate and not rely upon family or friends for some of the things you need. But by working
it can also help you to meet new people. I can tell you that some of my closest and some
of my dearest friends are folks I met at work. They’ve widened my horizons. I learned from
them and they learned from me and we have a lot of fun together. And I can tell you
a personal story. I still keep in touch with the person who hired me over 35 years ago.
A new paths fall. We’ve reconnected and I went away with her and several of my former
girlfriends. We all work together and it was just an amazing time you know reminiscing
back. But work can also help us to learn new skills whether they’re skills in interpersonal
relationships or self-skills or computer skills or maybe trade skills. It can help us to get
a new job, a better job. I can tell you a friend of mine left his job years ago and
he couldn’t find work and that was probably back in the, oh my, I’m dating myself. It
might be the 80’s or the 90’s. But he took a job and it was barely above minimum wage
and for him it was a huge pay cut but he wanted to work. And on the job he met someone and
actually it was a customer. And this customer’s father owned a business and that business
was hiring and guess what? They hired my friend. They put him through school and he started
his career there and he just recently retired. So how’s that for a happy ending. But we also
know that by learning new skills we may even get a better job or maybe even get promoted.
Now why choose work though? Now a little earlier Elizabeth was talking about achieving financial
independence and now things may be settling into place. You can work and file taxes and
possibly use an earned income tax credit, possibly for a down payment or to purchase
something and you’re budgeting and you’re paying your expenses timely I might add, because
now you have good credit. And now you can actually finance a bigger ticket item. You’re
working to where you want to be. And it sounds so easy but how do you get there? Well, one
of the ways to get there and a great way to get there is the ticket to work program. But
what is the program? Well it’s a free program under Social Security and it’s a voluntary
program. It’s available to individuals receiving either SSDI benefits for SSI between the ages
of 18 and 64 and it offers career development in a multitude of services from providers
and you choose the provider. The providers are called employment networks or the Office
of Vocational Rehabilitation. And they actually can help you to reach your goal. So what’s
your next step? How do you take that next step? Then it’s asking if there’s support
out there available to help him work? And one of the best ways I can think of to take
the next step is gathering information and resources and planning that journey. You have
to have a plan as Elizabeth talked about, a plan towards employment and financial independence.
Going to work is a big decision and we all know that and you want to make your journey
really a smooth one and you don’t want any surprises. And only you know what is best
for you and only you know what it is that you need to do to achieve your goals. So,
I am encouraging you to take that next step. And that next step is calling the Ticket to
Work helpline. That number is 1-866-968-7842. The TTY number is 1-866-833-2967. You can
also visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work. You can look over the information on that website.
You can talk the folks on the Ticket to Work helpline and they’ll actually reinforce some
of the information that we’re providing to you today. Now if we had one more slide of
Ben following this one and I don’t think we do, he actually would be smiling from ear
to ear. And he would be reaching or the stores because Ben is achieving his goals through
work. He’s using the work incentives. He assigned his ticket under the Ticket to Work Program
and I think now is the time that you think about it and reach for those stars too so
that you can meet your goals. And I think at this point I’m going to turn back over
to Elizabeth for a lot more valuable information and tips on ways you can save to meet that
goal.>>Thanks Marlene. That’s great information.
Thank you so much. So I want to come back to share with you some information about ways
to save money to reach your goal. So you’ve had a chance to think through, okay I need
to set a goal. I want to think about how I may do some cost savings. I want to consider
money that’s due back to me like through the earned income tax credit. I want to work for
access to that money and access to increasing my income. And as Marlene said, using some
of the tools you have available to me like the ticket to work program and the Social
Security incentives can all be very helpful. So let’s, now that you have a little bit of
money let’s talk about some ways to set that money aside. And one of the things I want
to make sure people know is thinking through their asset limits. We’re going to talk about
ABLE accounts and IDA programs which we refer to as protected savings opportunities and
you’ll find out why in just a minute. So first make sure that you know your asset limit.
Some Social Security beneficiaries have an asset limit and some don’t. So those of you
who are receiving SSDI your SSDI does not have an asset limit. Now you may be receiving
another public benefit that has an asset limit like you may through your state be receiving
Medicaid and your Medicaid might have an asset limit but your SSDI benefit does not. Now
if you receive SSI supplemental security income you do have an asset limit and that asset
limit is $2000. And again, you may also be receiving other public benefits that have
different asset limits. But I want to make sure that you’re remembering that it is your
responsibility to know those asset limits. So even though we’re encouraging you to save
money and to set a goal to save money towards that goal we do recognize and understand that
you have asset limits that you may feel bound to. But you know we know about these asset
limits but we don’t always know about the savings opportunities that we have even though
we have these asset limits. A good one is the one that I mentioned, the earned income
tax credit. A lot of people over the years have not claimed their tax refund because
they were afraid that it would negatively impact their SSI or their SSDI. They didn’t
know what would happen as a result of receiving that money and a lot is very clear now. The
money you receive does not count as income against any federally funded public benefit
and you can hold that money in an account for 12 months before it counts as an asset.
Really great if you have that money direct deposited because then it’s very clearly identified
as a tax return. But there are some other new opportunities that we want to make sure
you’re aware about and the newest is ABLE accounts. So ABLE accounts it’s a law that
was passed last year. Excuse me for a second folks, my screen went a little bit funny.
Okay ABLE accounts were passed last year and they’re a new opportunity for you to save
money. So they’re qualified savings accounts that receive preferred, sorry folks again,
that receive preferred federal tax treatment, just like a 529 account. And for those of
you who aren’t familiar with that, 529 accounts are college savings accounts. But ABLE accounts
aren’t just to save for college. So ABLE accounts allow you to save up to $14,000 per year and
the contributions can go as high as the state limit for 529 savings accounts. So that varies
by state and in a couple of the states that I’ve looked at, it’s as high as $300,000.
Now the one caveat is if you’re somebody who receives SSI your asset limit under an ABLE
account is $100,000. So just a moment ago we said your asset limit is $2000. But if
you’re saving money in an ABLE account you can save up to $100,000 really incredible,
right. Able accounts are not going to be available to everyone. You have to have incurred your
disability before age 26 so that means either you were born with a disability or you became
disabled before the age of 26. And then you have to have a severity of disability which
means you either need to be receiving SSI or SSDI or your physician is going to have
to do a disability certification. ABLE accounts are brand new and some of these rules are
still being worked out. The first ABLE accounts are launching as we speak but there’s still
a lot to be determined. So it’s a great thing for you to be thinking about and learning
about and we have a lot of resources for you to do that, which I’m going to talk about
in a minute. So I just want to go over again that these ABLE accounts are not going to
count against, as an asset against any federally funded public benefit. So again it won’t count
against your SSI, your SSDI, your food stamps, your TANF and employment insurance, worker’s
compensation, anything that’s paid even a little bit with federal money until you reach
your state’s 529 asset limit or for SSI folks who reach $100,000 in your ABLE accounts.
And Social Security has determined that if you do reach $100,000 in your ABLE account
and you receive SSI, then your benefits will be suspended until your account balance comes
below the $100,000. So you’re not going to be terminated from the rules. You’re just
suspended until your account, until your assets are again below the $100,000. You do want
to be thoughtful. You know if you’re saving money and in multiple accounts, it’s all of
those, you know then you want to be thoughtful. If I have money and a regular bank account
that’s not an ABLE account I don’t get to save over the $2000 asset limit. You have
to use a protected savings opportunity like the ABLE account. So I don’t want you to think
it’s just you can just go and open an account at the bank and say hey, this is an ABLE account.
It doesn’t work that way. These are specially set up accounts and to learn more we’re going
to encourage you to connect with us here at National Disability Institute through our
ABLE National Resource Center. On this website you’re going to get a lot of information about
what you can use the funds for, which is really anything to improve your quality of life.
You’re going to get more information about which states have set up ABLE accounts, how
you can participate and you can learn all of this at www.ablenrc.org. We also have some
great videos from our Executive Director, Michael Morris who walks through a lot of
this information and can help you just kind of wrap your head around how this all works,
how you’re all of a sudden have this huge opportunity to do savings that you never had
before. So if you incurred your disability before age 26 and you have a goal I really
encourage you to look at this and think through whether or not an ABLE account is the right
thing for you. Another opportunity is individual development accounts. So an individual development
account is a matched savings account that will match every dollar you save towards a
specific goal. These are set up in local communities through partnerships that include a local
community based organization and the max amounts are varied based on the community. So the
matching amount start at one dollar and can be up to as many dollars as that local community
decided. There’s a couple of ways that they receive the money for the programs. So that
can determine what you’re allowed to save for. So, federally funded IDAs those are IDA
programs that are funded through TANF block grants or assets for independence dollars.
Those programs are really wonderful for folks who receive SSI and SSDI and other public
benefits because the money saved in those IDA accounts along with the match that you
receive and any interest do not account as an asset against you and they don’t count
as income. And then SSI has set up special rules for how the money you put into your
account is counted. So IDAs can be really great if you’re receiving SSI or SSDI but
you do want to watch for those federally funded IDA programs. Federally funded IDA programs
let you save for home ownership, post-secondary education and training and starting your own
business and business capital. IDA programs that are not funded with federal funds can
let you save for lots of other things, but again you need to be careful because they’re
not set up as protected savings opportunities. So you do want to be thoughtful about your
asset limit and work with that program to see what they’ve done to make it a safe savings
opportunity for you. You can learn more about IDAs and also check to see if an IDA is available
in your state by going to idaresources.org/afigrantees. That’s a-f-i grantees. You can also learn
about other not federally funded programs by going to cfed.org. That’s c-f-e-d.org/programs/idas.
And as you recall I mentioned that SSI has some special rules about the money that you
save into an IDA account and so you can learn about those at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-
individual-development.htm. IDAs can be a really incredible opportunity if you have
a plan to save for homeownership, post-secondary education and training or starting your own
business. Because not only do you, are you supported to save money, they provide you
financial education. They support you in building your credit. They link you to other available
programs to help meet your goal, but they provide you that match so you get free money
because you’re meeting your savings goal and you’re participating fully in the program.
The other thing you should know about IDAs is you have to have earned income to participate
in an IDA program. So this is another opportunity that you can access when you’re working or
once you start working. So I wonder if after all this you’re asking the question financial
independence, is it possible for me? And I hope you learned today that yes, it is possible
with some good information like we’ve provided today. For many of you it may take some hard
work. For all of us it takes planning, education, training and support from social security
and other resources. And if you bundle all of that together or at least a few pieces
of it, you’re going to have a great opportunity to have a good job, a good career which is
really the goal of the Ticket to Work program and a better self-supporting future. You’re
going to have the chance to maybe come back from where you were financially before you
incurred a disability or to move forward towards the financial goals that you have for yourself.
All of us start in one place with our finances and have to do some planning, some work and
some really strong personal motivation to get to the financial place that we want to
be. And I hope that the information we provided to you today is going to help you to do that.
Are there risks? Absolutely, which is why it’s really important to be smart and to access
the Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program and to utilize the work incentives that you
have available to you. They’re there to help you navigate to a good job, a good career
and that self-supporting future that I know each of you can have. I want to encourage
you to really think through as you’re returning to work and you’re utilizing Ticket to Work
and work incentives both, the rules and how to report your earnings so that you don’t
fall into the unfortunate position of having an overpayment. Because that can feel like
a financial setback even though it’s really not. It’s just some that you didn’t receive
that you’ll need to pay back. It’s important to keep good records and we had a great question
in the chat about doing that and I provided each of you a link to a webinar that we did
through National Disability Institute some time ago. I think a year or two ago where
a financial coach gave really great information on record keeping for your finances, which
you can use also to help keep records of your Social Security paperwork and all of the things
that you’ve reported to social security including your return to work and your request to use
work incentives. If you need additional support with that, of course you have the Ticket to
Work Call Center to help you and we’re going to give you that number in just a few minutes.
I just want to remember, remind you to take advantage of the resources we’ve talked about
today. They’re all free. They’re all available to you. We at National Disability Institute
have worked with everybody we mentioned to you today to make sure that their services
are available to you that they’re accessible, that they’re keeping in mind the multiple
diverse needs of individuals with disabilities. And if you have any difficulty at all we at
National Disability Institute have a mission to build a better economic future for individuals
with disabilities and you’re welcome to reach out to us around these financial independence
needs. But also I encourage you to use the call center. They’re there to provide you
with support and to connect you with the resources that you need to gain that job, gain that
career and have that better self-supporting future. There’s some other resources that
are available to you that I’m going to hand off to Jayme Pendergraft to share.>>Thanks so much Elizabeth and I want to
take a moment to thank both you and Marlene so much for both of your presentations today.
You gave us some wonderful information about financial independence and Ticket to Work,
so thank you. And as soon as we get through this other resources section we will go ahead
and ask people some questions. Our first resource is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
or the FDIC’s Money Smart Program. This is a financial education program that’s designed
to help low and moderate income individuals increase their financial skills and create
positive banking relationships. You can get more information on the Money Smart program
by either Googling for FDIC Money Smart or going to the following link, http://www.fdic/gov/consumers/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html.
Another resource we would like to share today is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
which is also known as CFPB. The mission of CFPB is to make markets for consumer financial
products and services work for Americans, to work for everyone in our audience today
whether looking to apply for a mortgage, choose among credit cards or use any other number
of consumer financial products. And you can learn more about CFPB online at http://consumerfinance.gov.
That’s today’s presentation. Both of our presenters talked about the Ticket to Work helpline.
I’d like to remind everyone we have a lot of questions to get through today and we will
not be able to get to all of them. So we encourage you to give the helpline a call. And they
can be reached at 1-866-968-7842 for voice or 1-866-833-2967 for TTY. You can learn more
information about Ticket to Work and work incentives and a variety of other topics by
going online and visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/work and finally you can also connect with us on
social media. If you’d like to find us on Facebook that link is www.facebook.com/choosework.
On Twitter you can follow us at www.twitter.com/chooseworkssa. We also have a variety of Ticket to Work videos
on YouTube. These include some wonderful success stories so I encourage you to go check those
out as well. And you can visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/choosework.
And then if you are on LinkedIn you can also find us o there. And that website is https://www.linkedin.com/company/ticket-to-work.
And I know that there’s a lot of information on this slide so I will come back to it in
a minute and I’ll leave it up during our question and answer session. Once this webinar ends
there will be a survey that pops up on your screen and we would love to have you fill
that out for us. A link will pop up automatically and for your reference the link is www.choosework.net/
surveys/wise. As I mentioned I’m going to leave our for more information screen up on
the screen for you all while we go to the questions box and take some questions. And
Elizabeth I’m going to start with you and ask Marlene to then piggyback on this first
question. We have someone [inaudible] who has never had a job. What are your tips for
them in starting this process towards financial independence?>>That’s a great question. The first thing
is to think through what are your monthly costs? And sometimes that means that you might
be going into debt every month or you might be doing okay every month. Really everybody
is different, but you want to be thoughtful about what are your monthly costs? And if
you do have like a slightly different lifestyle you want, like let’s say you’re living with
family and you’d really like to live on your own, then you want to thin through what are
the costs for the life that I want? And I don’t mean a huge jump but you know that incremental
jump that would help you meet that first goal. And so you want to think about what’s the
amount of money that I need to earn. That’s the goal in thinking through that. What’s
the amount of money I need to earn? Sometimes we’re really quick to get a job which is great.
But having that thought of what’s the financial goal that I have? How much money do I need
to earn can help us to think more about am I going to be able to secure a job that meets
that financial need? Do I need to get more training? And then utilize the resources that
are available to you starting with Ticket to Work, who can help connect you with vocational
rehabilitation or an employment network in your local area who can help you meet the
goals that will help you get the job that will meet that financial need.>>Thanks so much Elizabeth. Marlene do you
have anything to add? Okay. It sounds like Marlene might be on mute. So we’ll circle
back to her in a minute. Elizabeth can you tell us a little bit again about the difference
between a bank account and a credit union?>>Sure. So a credit union is a community
based, much more community based than a bank. Banks are set up really to make profit and
credit unions are more non-profit. They’re owned by the shareholders of the bank. So
if you’re an individual who joins a credit union you immediately become a shareholder.
Their mission is people helping people. That’s really kind of their motto. And so credit
unions have a tendency to be much more community focused. They do have different things that
you have to have in order to be a member. Sometimes you have to work at a certain place
or live in a certain community. But oftentimes they say if you live, work or worship in this
area you can join this credit union. You know if you’re not sure about credit unions you
can just go and visit a credit union and let them know I heard about credit unions. I came
and I wanted to get more information and get a feel for who they are. But they tend to
have greater opportunity for people who haven’t had bank accounts in a long time and great
opportunities for people who need some programs to work on their credit.>>Thanks Elizabeth. That leads me into my
next question. How can I work to improve a bad credit score?>>Yeah so you know it just takes a little
time. So if you’re somebody who has debt there’s lots of strategies for working through your
debt. There’s different approaches to that. One’s called the snowball approach and if
you explore our website realeconomicimpact.org maybe we could put that in the chat box for
folks, realeconomicimpact.org. That’s NDI’s website. We have a lot of webinars that we’ve
done over time that walk people through the opportunities you have. Also if you use our
self-paced learning course zero balance budget that we talked about earlier, it gives you
a couple of approaches to working on your credit so that you can start to think through
your strategy. The number one thing to do when you’re working on your credit is to make
on-time payments. So this is again where your bank or credit union can be very helpful to
you. Because if you want a way, if you have a way you can make instant payments that you
don’t have to think about, even if they’re small or the minimum balance but you want
to make those on-time payments. That’s going to help you a lot with your credit. The other
important thing to is as much as you can kind of put a halt on using your credit. If you’re
using more than 30% of the credit that’s available to you, that starts to have a negative impact
on your credit rating. So if you a $1000 available on your credit card you want to stay you know
or don’t use more than about $300 dollars. That can be hard when you have additional
funds available to you through a credit card. So I would just give those two tips, pay on
time and as much as you can start putting away that credit card, especially if you owe
more than 30% of the credit that you have.>>One more question on credit. How do my
student loans affect my credit score?>>Yeah so your student loans if you’re not
making on-time payments that’s going to have a negative impact on your credit. So it’s
really important that you call your lender and talk to them. If you’re having a financial
barrier to paying your student loans there are different opportunities for them to work
with you. I’m not talking about forgiveness, but I’m talking about just what timeline do
you pay in and how much. You want to call your lender and talk to them if you’re not
able to make those payments. Otherwise every late payment is going to be a hit on your
credit.>>Thanks Elizabeth. We do have several questions
about ABLE. And the first one is do I have to wait for my state to establish a program
before opening an ABLE account?>>We’re very fortunate because through some
work by we here at National Disability Institute and several other national organizations it
was decided that you do not have to open an ABLE account in the state that you live in.
You can open an ABLE account in any state that is making ABLE accounts available. So
it’s going to take a little bit of research on your part to decide who’s the right state
for me to join with? Or you might decide the first one open is the first one I’m going
to. So check out ABLEnrc.org. That’s the ABLE National Resource Center because states are
already opening up for business.>>Thanks Elizabeth. Can I have more than
one ABLE account?>>That’s a great question and I have to tell
you that I am not sure. So rather than give any bad information, I’m going to say we’ll
have to, just send us in your, well Jayme how would you like to handle getting back
to someone on a question like that?>>I would say just one second and I will
have to look up that answer online and hopefully provide the information.>>Okay.>>Go ahead Marlene.>>I just found it. The ABLE Acts limits the
opportunity to one ABLE account per eligible individual.>>Thank you Marlene and that’s why we have
a couple of great presenters on today to help share this information. We also have another
question that we might have to get back to the person about. She’s wondering if ABLE
accounts are disregarded for Medicaid waiver purposes.>>Well Medicaid waivers are federally funded
so they would fall under the same rules as any federally funded public benefits. And
the rule is that ABLE accounts are disregarded as an asset up to the limits that we talked
about for any federally funded public benefit.>>Great thank you so much Elizabeth. I’m
going to switch gears a little bit and ask Marlene some questions about Ticket to Work
and work incentives. Marlene, we had quite a few questions about tax plans which you
didn’t talk about in your presentation. Could give some information on what a PASS is?>>Okay, yes I think you can hear me now.>>We can.>>Great a PASS is a plan for choosing self-report
and it’s one of the work incentives. It’s a great way to work towards financial independence.
It’s a way that you can save earnings or your income, unearned income or resources to pursue
a feasible and a viable work goal that will either eliminate or reduce your reliance on
benefits. You would have to have that work goal and then you would need to have expenses
associated with achieving that goal and you would be working towards that goal. And the
goal could be for anything like education or training or maybe you want to start a business.
Or maybe you’re a person or supporting a person with a developmental disability. And it could
be something like working more hours with less support. Social Security actually doesn’t
count the income or the resources you set aside under PASS for those expenses when they’re
figuring the SSI payment amount. To apply for a PASS Social Security actually prefers
that you use their form. I believe it’s an SSA-545 and you can find that online at socialsecurity.gov.
You have to work goal again. It has to be an achievable work goal. There has to be a
specific timeframe involved. And you have to have income other than supplemental security
income or resources that you’ll set aside to reach that goal. And again Social Security
will need to approve it. They’ll work with you. They’ll periodically do progress reviews
and they’ll review it. You can also phone their 800 number for additional information
on the PASS [inaudible] nearest you. Their toll-free number for their call center is
800-772-1213 or you can call the Ticket to Work helpline that’s shown on your screen,
1-866-968-7842. And it’s really really an underutilized work incentive and it’s a great
work incentive. It’s not just for folks who receive supplemental security income. It also
can be a work incentive or a tool for folks who are giving SSDI and can become eligible
for supplement security income benefits.>>Thank you so much for that information
Marlene. Moving on we have a question about Ticket to Work. We have someone in the audience
who actually has a job offer. So first we would like to say congratulations! We’re very
happy to hear that. But she wants to know how she can assign her Ticket to Work and
why she should go ahead and do that?>>Okay she can assign her Ticket to Work
by the first step would be choosing an employment network, finding an employment network or
vocational rehabilitation. Searching for one who can provide what other services you need
to support you in working. You can visit www.choosework.net and there’s a search tool that provides you
with all of the employment networks and the vocational rehabilitation agency which can
provide services. So the first step is finding an employment network or VR who will work
with you. All of the employment networks do not provide the same services so you would
need to search for one who can provide you with what you need. And then once you do that
you can assign your ticket to that employment network and from there on as long as you are
progressing, [inaudible] progressing toward achieving your goal you are not subject to
the regularly scheduled medical reviews.>>Thanks Marlene. Elizabeth there are more
questions about [inaudible]. Can you tell us again [inaudible] to what ABLE money can
be used to pay for?>>Yeah, so I really encourage all of you
to check out the ABLE National Resource Center, ablenrc.org because we do try and go into
that on the website, but it’s pretty broad. So your ABLE account funds can be used for
anything that makes your life, that improves your quality of life. So that may be things
that you need to go back to school, things that you need to go to work, things that you
need to participate in community life. It’s really quite broad. So I don’t want to put
any limits on it. It doesn’t have to be something related to your disability which is something
that happens sometimes. You’re allowed to spend funds on things only related to your
disability. ABLE account is not like that. This is very broad language. Anything that
improves your quality of life and again check out ablenrc.org to learn more.>>Great. Thank you so much Elizabeth. Let’s
see Marlene can people use the Ticket to Work to work from home or become self-employed?>>Yes they can. You can use the Ticket to
Work and work as an employee. If you found a job and there’s an employer who is hiring
you that’s fine. But yes you can work at home and or become self-employed under the Ticket
to Work program. The Ticket to Work program is very broad and it doesn’t restrict you
from just working outside of your home for an employer.>>Thank you Marlene. And Elizabeth we’ve
got about one minute left. Could you give our audience some advice on how to start this
journey to financial independence?>>I’d be happy to. I think it really starts
with you. What is it that you want for yourself? What are some things that would make your
life, improve your quality of life and it’s going to be very broad. We’ve talked with
folks before who their financial goal is really around getting more food into the house and
onto the table, [inaudible] about where they live or having the resources to get to work,
being able to avoid a financial crisis. So having some money and some savings in an account
so that when a financial crisis hits they are able to take care of themselves. Others,
it’s debt, they want to pay down debt. Others have really moved pretty far forward in their
financial life and they’re saving for things that are more fun like vacations and I hope
we’re all doing what we can to save for retirement and there’s some growing opportunities to
do that. It really starts with you so whatever you want to save for and then recruit your
family, your friends, all of them to help you in this fight. And then do use the Ticket
to Work call center and connect the Ticket to Work and use your work incentives so that
you can have access to every resource possible to make this goal a reality.>>Thank you much Elizabeth. That’s a fantastic
way to end today’s webinar. I would like to thank Marlene and Elizabeth and also Nakia
and Peggy and Nancy in the background. I know that we didn’t get to everyone’s questions
today so I do encourage you to call that Ticket to Work helpline. They are available to give
you the information you need and to answer the questions that we weren’t able to get
to today. Please stay tuned for our next webinar which will be listed on choosework.net shortly.
And I want to thank all of you for coming today. We know that attending a seminar is
a wonderful first step to getting additional information. So we appreciate that you joined
us this afternoon and hope you all have a fantastic day. Thank you very much.

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