WISE Webinar 2017-01: Make it Happen: The Ticket to Financial Freedom

>>Well, hello, everyone. Good afternoon. My name is Nancy Boutot with National Disability
Instituted Consulting. And we are about to start our Ticket to Work
WISE Webinar, “Make It Happen, the Ticket to Financial Freedom.” We thank you very much for joining us today
for our first session of the new year. For accessing today’s Webinar you can manage
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Webinar today. So there may be a chance that we will not
be able to get to all of your questions, but please be patient with us. We certainly will try. If you are listening by phone and you’re not
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[email protected] Please note that the Webinar is being recorded
and the archive will be available within two to three weeks on the Choose Work website
at HTTPS, colon, forward slash, forward slash, www.ChooseWorkTTW.net, forward slash, webinars,
hyphen, tutorials, forward slash, webinar, hyphen, archives.html. If you experience any technical difficulties
during the webinar, please use the question-and-answer box to send a message, or you may email [email protected] We have an exciting agenda for you today. Again, I’m your moderator, Nancy Boutot with
NDI Consulting. We have a couple of presenters with us, Elizabeth
Jennings from the National Disability Institute, and Marlene Ulisky from National Disability
Institute Consulting. We are going to welcome them, and I’m going
to introduce them. And we will be talking about what is financial
independence, setting and accomplishing goals, achieving financial independence. And then we will be giving you some other
resources to assist you on your journey to work as well as answering your questions. So let me take a moment and introduce both
Elizabeth and Marlene to you. Elizabeth Jennings is the Deputy Director
of National Disability Institute. She is a national trainer on social security
benefits and asset development strategies for individuals with disabilities. And that includes favorable tax provisions
and the earned income tax credit, financial education, and protected savings opportunities. Additionally, Elizabeth has extensive experience
in building and expanding relationships between the disability and asset-building community. Her decade-long experiences include spearheading
asset development initiatives in Florida and New York, creating collaborative agreements,
executing grant applications, providing technical assistance on federal disability policy, and
assisting individuals in job development and understanding the effect of work on public
benefits. We also have with us today Marlene Ulisky. Marlene is a 35-year employee of the Social
Security Administration. She has developed expertise in developing
relationships with partners across Florida to educate them on disability programs administered
by the social security administration. After leaving SSA, she worked with the Office
of Vocational Rehabilitations in Florida to establish the Partnership Plus program under
the Ticket to Work program. And then was rehired by Social Security to
conduct training and to assist them in managing critical integrity workloads. At NDI she is a part of the training and technical
assistance team and provides support to her colleagues and to beneficiaries when complex
SSA issues arise. So ladies, we thank you very much for being
here today, and I am going to kick it off by turning it over to you, Elizabeth. Thank you.>>Thank you so much, Nancy. Welcome, everyone. Good afternoon. I’m excited to talk to you today. My name is Elizabeth Jennings, and I am Deputy
Director here at National Disability Institute. And I’m looking forward to talking to you
today about having an understanding about what is financial independence and what it
can mean for individuals on social security benefits, especially when you’re thinking
about returning to work. Thinking about this subject changed my whole
world, including how I spend my time at work and what I focus on. And while I know that most of you, if not
all of you, on the line today do a very good job at managing your money, I know that because
as your money starts to shrink you tend to know where it’s going even more, and how you’re
spending it. And people tend to do a very good job with
that. But what we’re hoping for today is to give
you a couple of thigs you didn’t know about before and to remind you of things you likely
do know, but you may or not be using all the time. And we want you to know that we have a vested
interest in you having a better financial future. So please know that we will always be a resource
to you as you go down this path. Okay, let’s get started. So what do we mean by financial independence? As you might suspect, it’s being able to support
yourself and to meet your wants and needs, being able to make choices and have options
about what you buy, where you live — very important, right — and what you do with your
free time. To us it also means that you are not limited
by your social security disability benefits, and you have the opportunity to work your
way off cash benefits whenever possible. Our goal today is to help you think about
some of the tools you are using, some that you could use, and to treat this as an opportunity
to think as you consider a return to work, what do I need financially from the kind of
job I’m going to pursue? So we want to encourage you to think about
a budget and to include that as you’re thinking about the type of work you’re going to do,
the abilities that you bring to a job, the talents that you offer. But we want you to think a little bit less
about what kind of job can I get? And you to think more about what kind of job
do I need? Including how will this job help me meet my
budget? Is financial independence possible for you? Absolutely, we think it’s possible for you. And that’s why we will go on this road with
you today and be a resource for you tomorrow, and the day after, and as you continue to
go down this path of financial independence. As with anything in life, everything starts
with setting a goal. And right now it’s the start of the year,
and so we want to talk about setting your goals and being SMART about it. So many of you may have set a New Year’s resolution
as this new year started, and those are fine. Those are really good. But setting goals is even better. And when you set a goal, it’s really good
to be smart about setting that goal. Setting a goal gives you something to focus
on, and by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself, you can make your dream
of financial independence a reality. So being S.M.A.R.T. means that the goal has a specific and precise
goal. So rather than say how — rather than say,
“I want to be more efficient at work” — so that’s a goal that I set for myself this year. You could say that’s one of my New Year’s
resolutions — I might say, “I want to make sure I have no more than however many emails
in my inbox when I leave for the day.” So that makes it more of a precise goal. It makes it a measurable goal. Goals should be measurable. And how do you know if you’re working toward
your goal if you don’t have a way to measure your progress toward it? So you want to have some kind of milestone
along the way that’s going to help to keep you motivated. You also want your goal to be attainable. Do you have a plan to achieve your goal? As you think about your plan to achieve your
goal, I encourage you to think about who you need to line up behind you or around you to
help you make sure that you can achieve your goal. Many of the goals we set, particularly around
our money, also depend on other people. So if you are part of a family, you may want
to talk to your family about what the financial goals you are setting and how they could help
you to achieve that goal together. I can remember being a kid and my parents
— I’m one of five — sat us all down and cut the credit cards in front of us, saying,
“We now have a family goal to decrease our credit card debt.” So you can make a move like that, engage the
whole family as best you can. And then you want to make sure that the goal
is realistic. Make sure your goal is something that you
are willing and able to work toward. A realistic goal setting is an important part
of setting your goals. If you set a goal that is not really the goal
that you want to achieve, you are not likely to achieve it. So it’s important to think about for a moment
what do you really want? Is this goal that you really want to work
toward? Maybe it’s a goal you have a lot of thoughts
about, and you might think it’s specific, and measurable, and attainable, but you’re
not really that interested in it right now. That’s okay. Set that side a goal for another time, and
revisit it in the months or years to come. Just make sure that the goals you set for
yourself now are the goals that you want to work on. And you want to be timely with your goals. Set a date for achieving your goal so that
you have a deadline for yourself, and that will help to make this goal a priority for
you. So now that we’ve gone through this little
exercise, I want to let you know that there are lots of great goal-setting tools online
if you’re interested in them. And let’s keep going. Now that you have a goal, what should you
do? So now is when you want to identify some of
the available finances that can help you reach your goal. And to do that we’re going to talk to you
about some cost savings opportunities that you may not know about, how to retrieve some
money that’s owed to you, and of course, we’re going to talk about earned income and the
Ticket to Work program so that you can learn more about making that return to work. So many things with finances start with a
budget. But what is a budget? You may see language now that refers to a
spending plan. Some people are more comfortable with that
term. But whatever words you’re more comfortable
with, many things start with a budget and how to make the best use of your money to
help you reach the goal that you’ve set for yourself. The budget is traditionally a plant of your
expenses and income for a period of time, like one month or one year. And using a budget can help you see how much
money you have, where you’re spending it, and importantly, where you can maybe save
money. As I mentioned before, I know that many of
you on the line today are very diligent about knowing where your money goes. But if you feel like, “Hmm, I’m not sure that
I’m that diligent. I’m not sure I know where all my money goes,”
then a great place to start is to write down every day where every dollar goes and then
to reflect on it and see if there’s anywhere that money is going that really could be trimmed,
at least a little bit. And again, that may require conversations
with other people in your life, or it may require some thinking about expenses that
you have, particularly related to your disability that could be covered in some other way, or
how you can use those expenses to claim work incentives, which we’re going to talk about
later. If you need help creating a budget — many
people don’t have one — you can get help creating a budget. So you can contact your local Center for Independent
Living. You can find the location nearest you by going
to www.ilru.org, forward slash, html, forward slash, publications, forward slash, directory,
forward slash, index.html. Centers for Independent Living are available
all across the country in every community. And as part of their independent living skills,
they do offer resources around creating a budget. Money Smart is also made available free from
FDIC, and it’s provided online as a self-paced e-learning course. So that means you can log in and take financial
education when you have time. You can share it with family members and friends. They also have one for you. So if you are on the younger side or you have
a child you’d like to offer financial education to, it’s all right there for you, free, at
no cost. It’s available at www.fdic.gov, forward slash,
consumers, forward slash consumer, forward slash MoneySmart, forward slash, index.html. And then finally, we here at National Disability
Institute created a self-paced e-learning course called Zero-Balance Spending Plan. And we use that word zero-balance spending
plan because this is a spending plan that helps you identify where all of your money
is going, every penny, including short-term expenses, long-term expenses, things that
happen just once a year, money you set aside for an emergency or for purchasing gifts. When you use a plan like this and you identify
where every single penny is going, you have the greatest control and knowledge over your
money. And in this spending plan it also gives you
lots of tips for savings. And you can access this plan at no cost to
you. It’s also online, and it’s free. And it’s available at http, colon, forward
slash, forward slash, ndi.eLogicLearning.com, forward slash. So I hope these resources, you’ll find them
helpful. And I’m going to hand this back over to Nancy
for our next speaker. Thanks so much, Nancy.>>Thank you, Elizabeth. That was great information. Next up is Marlene Ulisky. And Marlene, I will now turn it over to you.>>Okay, thank you, Nancy. I think in this next segment I’ll be talking
a little bit about taking action toward your goal. And we’ll talk a little bit about social security
disability-based benefits and work incentives. But before we get to that, I just wanted to
say that Elizabeth talked about a lot of information about financial independence, and goals, and
making choices for yourself, and having a lot of options in life. And we’d like to provide you with these options
so that you’re not limited by your social security benefits. She talked about being SMART and what that
means. But I think we all have to take it a step
further and not just have a goal, but also have a road map or a plan on how we’ll achieve
that goal. And part of that may include saving money
and establishing a spending plan or a budget for that money that you’ll be saving toward
by — saving for by working toward your goal. So we’ll take this another step further, and
in the next few slides we’ll talk just a little bit about the social security benefits so
that you have some foundational information. Like the Webinars we’ve done in the past,
we want you to better understand the benefits you are receiving, and understand any program
rules, and how working will affect those benefits. That’s important so that you can make the
best choices for you as you make decisions and you take these first steps toward financial
independence. The first program we’re going to talk about
today is SSDI, or social security disability insurance benefits. And again, we’ll talk about them briefly to
provide you with some general information so that you understand what benefits you were
receiving. Now these benefits are paid under what we
call Title II of the Social Security Act. And sometimes you’ll hear about them referred
to incorrectly as SSA benefits. But actually SSA is the Social Security Administration,
the federal agency that pays the benefits. SSA is not a type of benefit. Now in order to receive SSDI benefits, you
have to first have a disability, then you have to file for the benefit, and then you
have to meet the technical requirements. That means that someone must have worked and
paid into the social security trust fund. That’s before social security ever gets to
the point where they evaluate disability and look at the medical evidence or the medical
report. Now when we talk about paying in to social
security what I mean is that you’re paying FICA taxes. And I think that stands for the Federal Insurance
Contributions Act. And those are the social security taxes paid
through payroll deductions. Now that’s if you’re an employee and you received
a W-2. And then taxes would be automatically deducted
from your pay. But if you’re self-employed and you file tax
returns, you actually pay those taxes when you file your tax return. Now with FICA taxes you must have worked recently
and often long enough to meet an insured requirement. Now in the SSDI program, Medicare comes right
along with these benefits, usually after 24 months for most folks. Now in this program, individuals who became
disabled prior to the age of 22 may possibly qualify for a benefit even if they have not
worked or they are not insured. Now that is if they became disabled, again,
prior to the age of 22, and if they have a parent who is disabled or retired and drawing
a social security disability insurance benefit or retirement benefit from social security,
or they have a parent who is deceased and was insured. Now this type of a benefit is called a childhood
disability benefit, or CDB. And you’ll hear it referred to sometimes as
a DAC benefit, D-A-C, or disabled adult child benefit. I think it’s more commonly known as a DAC
benefit, but the correct term is actually childhood disability benefit. Now in this program or in the SSDI program,
there are not any resource or asset limitations. When you look at this program, the childhood
disability benefit, there are rules that we’ll talk about later for work incentives which
allow individuals to receive these benefits to test their ability to work and either enter
the workforce or re-enter the workforce. There is one other type of benefit that’s
payable under Title II of the Social Security Act, and it’s called disabled widows or widowers
benefits. And that’s for folks between the ages of 50
and 60 who are disabled, and it’s based upon the earnings record of a deceased wage earner. And we generally don’t talk about this group,
because the numbers are very much lower and are very limited. I just wanted to throw that out there, because
these folks can also utilize the work incentives, and they can also qualify for Medicare after
24 months in general. Now if you receive this type of a benefit
under Title II of the Social Security Act — you would know that if your benefit check
is directly deposited on a Wednesday or on the 3rd of the month. And if that’s the case, you’re likely receiving
either a widow or widowers disability benefit, a childhood disability benefit, or a social
security disability insurance benefit. Now the other program under which social security
pays a disability-based benefit is called supplemental security income benefits. And this is a needs-based program paid under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Now this pays benefits to individuals with
a disability who do not meet the insured status requirement, and maybe they haven’t worked
recently enough or long enough. With SSI, or supplemental security income,
as I said, it’s a needs-based program, and the program looks at income and resources
when they determine eligibility for the benefit. Now for an individual, the resource limit
is $2000, and $3000 in resources for disabled couples. Now for our purposes today, we’re — we’ll
be talking mostly about adults with disabilities because we’re focusing on the Ticket to Work
program, and one of the eligibility requirements for the Ticket program is that it’s limited
to adults with disabilities and it’s for those folks ages 18 to 64. Now Medicaid comes along with SSI in most
states, and like the SSDI program, there are work incentives which come along with SSI. Now it’ important to know which benefit you’re
receiving so that you know which work incentives you can actually use and so that you know
how working affect your benefit, and you can plan or your future. Now if you’re unsure if you’re receiving this
type of benefit, one of the ways you may know is when it is directly deposited. If it’s on the 1st of the month, it’s likely
to be an SSI benefit. And another way you may know that it is an
SSI benefit is by the amount of the benefit. If it is for an individual, and your amount
— your monthly benefit amount is $735, which is the full benefit rate for someone who lives
in a state without optional supplementation, you’re likely receiving SSI benefits, or supplemental
security income benefits. Now some folks receive a combined SDI and
SSI benefit, and we say that those folks are receiving what we call concurrent benefits. An individual can possibly draw benefits on
both if the SSDI is low enough that social security can supplement it with supplemental
security income, as long as they meet the other income and requirement. If you’re receiving more than one direct deposit
each month, and the direct deposits are on different days, one of which is the 1st of
the month, it’s likely you’re receiving what’s called a concurrent benefit. Work incentives, now that you know just a
little about — little bit about benefits, and you know the type of benefit you’re receiving,
we’re going to move on a bit and talk a little about work incentives. Now you may hear this term work incentives,
but you’re not really certain what it means, so we’ll talk about that. Work incentives are nothing more than special
rules that Social Security has in place for individuals with disabilities that want to
test their ability to work and become self-sufficient. If you’d like to use the work incentives,
you can start off slowly and actually see how the work incentives work, or you can work
— or you can move ahead with full-steam ahead as quickly as you choose and continue on your
journey toward financial independence. The work incentives actually allow you to
do any number of things, as shown on your screen. You can receive training to learn new skills
for a new job, or even a job you already have. The work incentives allow you to pursue your
education and to receive training. A particularly great work incentive for his
is the one we’ll be talking about in the net few slides, and that’s the PASS, or the Plan
to Achieve Self Support. You can test out the work incentive or work
more hours, and work, and earn more money, which will allow you to meet many of your
independent goals. But the work incentives not only allow you
to get a job, they allow you to start a career or to establish a career and to gain confidence
in your abilities. Now like we’ve done in past Webinars and throughout
the next several slides, we’re going to focus on one particularly powerful work incentive,
and that’s the Plan to Achieve Self Support. Now I want you to know that all of the work
incentives we talk about, or even those we don’t talk about today, or those you heard
about, can easily be found at the Social Security website if you visit www.socialsecurity.gov,
forward slash, work. Now that’s where you’ll find the red book. And I know in a prior Webinar someone asked
a question, “Is she saying red, like the color red?” And that’s exactly what I’m saying, because
the red book is exactly that. It’s red, and it’s a very comprehensive book
which contains information on all of the work incentives. And it’s really a great resource. You can also find the red book easily if you
go to the Choose Work website. And that website is www.choosework.net. There is — that’s the homepage. And at the top of that page you’ll find a
link for the Social Security website where you can find the red book link also. The Plan to Achieve Self Support. Now PASS, or the Plant to Achieve Self Support,
is a work incentive for individuals ages 16 to 64 who are receiving SSI or can become
eligible by setting aside income for expenses associated with achieving a work goal. It’s a plan for someone who has something
to set aside other than supplemental security income for a period of time to pursue their
goal. It could also be excess resources which are
set aside. If an individual is working and, for example,
they’re earning money, we know that there are social security rules where income normally
causes a reduction in SSI payments or no SSI payments, as we learned about in past Webinars. We learned that with SSI and earnings in general,
after Social Security takes certain deductions from the earnings, they divide by 2 and subtract
the difference from the SSI payment amount, which means the SSI check is reduce in general
$1 for every $2 earned. But with PASS, when Social Security figures
that payment amount, the income used to pay for items or services needed to reach the
work goal are not used when set aside for that work goal. You may get a higher SSI payment with PASS,
but it never exceeds the SSI payment rate. So I’m going to throw out one example so that
you understand it a little more. We have some individuals actually that may
not be eligible for SSI because they have resources over the SSI limit. When the excess resources are set aside for
items or services under a PASS, they may be able to establish eligibility for supplemental
security income. And remember, with SSI in most states, Medicaid
comes right along with that. Another example I could throw out is if income
is too high to establish eligibility for SSI. For example, the individual receives $900
in SSDI, the excess unearned income, or SSDI, can be set aside for expenses covered in the
PASS to establish eligibility under SSI. It’s really, really a great work incentive. So let’s say, for example, you receive SSI
and you have a work goal of becoming an electrician. You may have some expenses that are not paid
through your VR agency or for an employment network. It could be for tuition, or books, or transportation
to and from an apprenticeship program, or maybe it’s for special tools you need to purchase
in your trade. You could actually save a specific amount
of money each month from your earnings to pay for these things, and the money you set
aside from your earnings for PASS expenses are not counted when Social Security determines
the amount of your SSI check. And again, that usually means that — a higher
SSI check is a wonderful work incentive. Now with a PASS, it’s something that is self-financed,
and it can help you to pay for a variety of items or services, as we said, which are needed
to achieve a work goal. It can also help you to pay for items or services
for working from home. Maybe you want to establish a home-based business
or you plan to become self-employed. It could help you to pay for business equipment
for working at home, possibly for a computer, or a printer, or scanner, or fax machine,
or Internet, or cellphone. Or it could help you to pay for transportation,
any of these items, if they’re needed to reach your occupational goal. So just so that you understand it a little
better, I want to throw out another example. It could be for someone who possibly wants
to establish a vending business. If he or she has a home office and works out
of their home, they may order supplies, schedule repairs, pay bills, and so on. But periodically they have to go to and from
the vending site to collect money from the machines and refill the machines, and then
go to the bank to deposit the funds. So in a case like this, there could be expenses
for a variety of things, for transportation, for expenses for machine rental and repairs,
or Internet charges, and so on. These could be covered under the PASS for
this person. They may be able to save for these types of
expenses in a PASS. Now I want to caution you, though, that although
self-employment is an option, PASS will generally cover expenditures only for the startup phase
of the business, and that’s generally about 18 months or so. Now PASS could actually help you to save for
other goods or services related to a work goal, too. Another example could be that maybe your PASS
— your goal may be to become an administrative assistant, and maybe you have worked possibly
with an employment network, and you have applied for grants and funding, but you still have
some expenses which are not covered. It could be for items like books, or possibly
lab fees, or transportation to and from college. Or it could be for expenses for things such
as resume preparation when you’re looking for your job. Or it could even be for expenses like business
clothing for when you go on interviews. Or it could be for child care costs. PASS, again, can help to fund all of these
expenses. Now who can help you set up a PASS and how
do you do it? At this point there are so many organizations
which can help you to set up the pass. Any VR agency can help you. Your VR counselor can assist you with PASS. It could be a social worker or a certified
work incentive or benefits counselor who works for a work incentive planning and assistance
grantee. Any of these folks won’t be writing the PASS
for you in those instances, but they’ll provide you with guidance in writing the plan, or
they’ll provide you with clarification of various portions of the plan and will guide
you one step at a time so that you understand it better. But what’s included in a PASS? And how do you write the PASS? With the PASS, an application form is used,
and the preferred application is a government form which can be found at www.ssa.gov, forward
slash, form, forward slash, SSA, hyphen, 545.pdf. That’s the form number. It’s an SSA-565. And that’s the preferred form that your PASS
should be written on. Now in that PASS you’ll be identifying the
specific work goal. You’ll be asked to identify your occupational
goal, and how many hours you plant to work per week, and how much you plan to earn, and
how you decided on that particular goal, and what are the duties and the responsibilities,
and so on. Now the folks who will make the determination
on this are called PASS specialists, and they work in a PASS cadre. And they actually will determine whether or
not your goal is achievable. Now the form does include questions about
your disability, about your limitations, and your skills, your education, your work history,
and so on. And remember, when you think about a work
goal, a work goal is not purchasing a car, or buying a computer, or obtaining a Bachelor’s
degree. It’s an occupation. A computer, or car, or degree, those are all
things you may need to achieve your goal, but that actually is not the work goal or
the occupational goal. And lastly, I wanted to say that in relationship
to your work goal, attainment of the work goal should allow you to earn enough money
to either reduce your SSI payment significantly or eliminate the need for SSDI benefits. Now that means you’re achieving your goal
becoming financially independent, if you’re receiving SSDI benefits. Now also with a PASS plan there must be a
beginning and an ending date, and there has to be steps or milestones along the way to
achieve your goal, and there has to be a reasonable time frame. The PASS plan also has to identify what you’re
setting aside to achieve that work goal. Is it income, or earnings, or even resources? And it must specify each of the expenses that
you’ll have associated with that work goal. And for each of the expenses you identify
in your PASS you’ll need to show how they’ll enable you to reach that work goal. Now in various areas of the country within
the Social Security Administration, there are, as we said, PASS cadres which consist
of specially-trained employees called PASS specialists, and they are responsible for
working with you and for approving your plan. They can also actually work with you and amend
your plan or tweak your plan if needed. When the plan is approved, they also monitor
your progress. They’ll review your progress, review the documentation
you have, including your financial documentation or your bank record so that they can see that
you were saving and spending in accordance with your plan. And they would also review any documentation
related to your expenses approved by the PASS. Now we’ve come to the portion in our Webinar
where we’ll talk a bit about the Ticket to Work program.>>Hi, Marlene.>>Hi, Nancy.>>I am going to stop you right there so I
can ask you some questions. We had several questions that came in while
you were talking about PASS, so I’d like to address some of those. One of the things that you mentioned was timely
progress. And one of our audience members has a question
which is, “Could you explain a little bit more about that 18-month time frame you were
talking about? And is a PASS limited to 18 months?”>>Okay, and when I was talking about 18 months
I was specifically referring to self — to a PASS with self-employment as a goal. For other PASSes generally the time frame
is 36 months to 48 months, and nothing is actually set in stone. Some folks progress a little quicker, and
some produce at a slower rate — or move forward at a slower rate toward their work goal. But with self-employment as a work goal, the
PASS generally is limited to 18 months, which is generally the startup period, and that
enables the person to get everything together and move toward being productive within that
self-employment work goal.>>Great, thank you very much. And the next question that we have is, “Can
someone use a PASS for paratransit services,” meaning door-to-door transportation?>>Okay, and for paratransit services, or
person who is using paratransit services, that can be one of the expenses, including
a — included in a PASS, if it’s necessary to achieve a work goal. So a beneficiary may need transportation possibly
to and from their jobsite, or they may need transportation to and from their training
program, or their college, or university. That could be an expenditure in the career
path, and it could also include anything like possibly taxi services if there’s not public
transportation in the area, or it could be almost anything. It’s [inaudible] a couple slides ago I think
I gave a couple examples, one of which is childcare, or clothing, or resume preparation. An expense could be even something related
to choosing a work goal. Maybe you’re not sure of your work goal. You may go to a VR provider ad pay the private
provider to help you to clarify what it is that you’d like to do or what would be best
for you, something you can do, or something you would enjoy doing. And a PASS could be written for something
like that. And generally a PASS like that could run three
to six months, and the cost associated with the plan could be a PASS expenditure. And again, nothing is set in stone. A PASS is a very flexible document. It could include so many things.>>Great, wonderful information. Thank you, Marlene. One more question, and that is, “If someone
has a PASS and then partway through the plan they realize they want to change their work
goal, doe the Social Security Administration allow that?>>Yes, they do. And they can change their work goal. What happens is that plans can be amended
at any time along the career pathway. And individual may want to focus on a different
role, and they can make changes. They would just have to notify their PASS
specialist and work closely with that specialist, and the plan can be amended. It could be amended for other things, too. Maybe they need to purchase different items
in their PASS, maybe they forgot something, or maybe it needs to be amended due to the
timeframe. They need more — they may need more time
for something or less time for something. Most PASS plans actually are amended at some
point along the way. And yes, they can be amended, though, for
even changing the work goal.>>Great. Thank you, Marlene. I know, folks out there, we have a few other
questions regarding PASS, but I also want to make sure that our presenters are able
to get through the presentation. So with that, Marlene, I will turn it back
over to you. Thank you.>>Okay, thanks, Nancy. And again, we’ll be talking a little about
the Ticket to Work program now. And as we go along, I’d like you to remember
that we are all different. We’re all unique. We all have different goals in work and [inaudible]
lives. And what’s great about the Ticket to Work
program is that it’s not what I call a stand-alone program. It’s a program under Social Security where
you actually can customize your journey to independence. And when I say customize, I mean that you
are not limited to choosing to participate only in a PASS plan or only in the Ticket
to Work program. You can customize it and participate in both
at the same time, and with many of the work incentives, they actually enhance one another
and provide additional options or support for you along the way. And I just wanted to add that, because I don’t
think we’ve talked about that in prior Webinars, but I wanted to make it clear that you can
customize this any way you choose, in whatever manner you choose, whatever is best for you. So when you’re starting your journey — and
we see this on your screen — only you can decide if it’s right for you, if it’s the
right choice. And if you’re listening today, it’s likely
you’ve come to that fork in the road, and you’re considering the work role. And you may have a plan, and there’s no better
time to start than right now. You can choose work. But why choose work? There’s a lot of reasons why you may want
to choose work, and one of the primary reasons is there’s so many individuals I’ve spoken
with is that they want to earn more money. It’s as simple as that. They want to meet their various goals, and
they want to improve their standard of living, and become financially independent. Now many individuals receiving a disability
benefit from Social Security find it difficult to meet their daily needs, and some don’t
have the means to meet even unexpected obligations. But work is one way to do that. Some other folks have chosen work to gain
more independent, or to meet more people, to widen their social horizons or social contacts. But others have chosen work to challenge themselves
or to learn new skills. But for all individuals who have chosen work,
the Ticket to Work program is there for them and is a program that’s for beneficiaries
between the ages of 18 and 64 who receive a disability-based benefit. It could be SSDI, or childhood disability
benefits, or disabled widow or widowers benefits, or supplemental security income benefits. Now the program is free, and it’s voluntary,
and you can participate if you choose to participate. If you choose not to participate, that’s fine,
too. You can decide if work is the right choice
for you. Now the Ticket to Work program is a self-sufficiency
program, and it does support career development for persons with disabilities who actually
want to work. If you choose to participate in the program
and you’re using your ticket and progressing toward meeting your goals as defined in your
individual work plan or your individual plan for employment, Social Security does not conduct
their regularly-scheduled medical reviews. Now that’s really a great protection for a
lot of individuals who are a little nervous about testing the waters and thinking that
Social Security may determine that they are no longer disabled because they are working. Now taking that next step, you may have decided
that work is for you, and you’re ready to move forward. In our next slide we see Ben, and he’s asking
a question that many of us have, “Is there support out there for me?” Support to help you to work? And the answer is yes. The next step of the journey is likely gathering
information and resources to formulate the plan for employment. You may want to visit the Chose Work website,
www.ChooseWork.net. You’ll hear about it later during the presentation. And you may want to research some of the organizations
who have resources that can help you to work. Nancy will provide more of the resources at
the end of the presentation, and it really is to your advantage to not only use the Choose
Work website, but to also use the Ticket to Work helpline that you’ll hear about later. After all, you want your journey to be a smooth
one. You want to make the best decisions for yourself. And you want to know everything that you need
to know to get to your destination of financial independence.>>Thank you, Marlene. What great information. There are so many options with the Ticket
to Work program. Thank you for covering everything so thoroughly. Okay, so we are going to move into our next
portion of the program, which is affordable financial services and saving money. And for that I will turn it back over to Elizabeth
Jennings.>>Thanks so much, Nancy. And thank you, Marlene, for that great information. I have to say, I’m a little bit sad to leave
all of you in the Q and A box, because it’s been a great time answering your very smart
and thoughtful questions. If you have some questions while I’m speaking,
please feel free to use the Q and A box. We are actively trying to answer your questions,
and we’ll try to get to the ones you ask me now once the session — this section is over. So let’s talk about affordable financial services
and how you can save money for your goals. When we talk about affordable financial services
we are, at times, talking about savings and checking accounts. So having a saving or a checking account at
a bank or credit union allows you to access your money and make sure that it’s kept safe. A savings account keeps your money safe while
you save for your goals. And a checking account gives you quick access
to pay for bills and to buy things while, again, you’re keeping your money safe. Some individuals with disabilities are not
utilizing banks or credit unions, and there is likely several reasons for that. If you’re on the line and you have found a
way to do your financial transactions that works for you and keeps your money safe, we’re
not requiring or suggesting that you change that in any way. However, if you’re on the line and you’d like
to be using a bank or credit union, but you may have had a challenge in the past — maybe
you overdrew your account, or maybe you’re on one of the lists that says, “This person
is a banking risk.” We want to make sure that you know that you
have some choices. So we’re going to offer two of them to you. Some of them are — as you know, banks offer
online services, direct deposit and much more. And no matter which choice you take on, we
want to make sure you remember to talk to the bank or credit union and ask them about
the services that they have to offer you so you can make a good choice in which bank or
credit union you choose. But I you need some support in getting back
into a bank or credit union, one of the options for you is Bank On. Bank On programs work with banks and credit
unions to make it easier for you to join, even if you’ve had a bad experience in the
past. And you can find a Bank On program by going
to http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, JoinBankOn.org. A second option is to explore the credit unions
in your area. They’re also really great when you’ve had
an error in the past and you want to have kind of a second chance at a bank account. To find a credit union in your area, you can
visit www.MyCreditUnion.gov, forward slash, pages, forward slash, default.aspx. One of the reasons why you might want to consider
a bank account is because it helps you to establish a relationship with a bank or credit
union, and that gives you another step toward obtaining credit when you need it. Credit is something that you get when you
need to purchase, and credit is also something that you have. So credit is another tool for becoming financially
independent. And having good credit, meaning your credit
score, means banks and businesses will let you buy an item before you pay for it. So you know, we’re talking about lots of kinds
of credit. And having a credit score is really important,
and it’s becoming more and more important. So you know that it allows you to get a better
rate when you’re buying things like a home or a car, or you need an emergency loan to
pay for some emergency expense. But credit is also having another impact,
which is employers who are doing credit checks to see if you present a risk to them as an
employee. So credit is playing a large role in our lives,
and we want to make sure that you know some of the ways that you can look and understand
more about credit, what your credit score is, and what — how you can work on your credit
if you need to. Here are some credit resources for you. Many of you may know you’re allowed to pull
a free annual credit report once each year. And while there’s lots of commercials for
this, the actual place you want to go is www.AnnualCreditReport.com. That annual credit report is really important
as a step in looking at your finances, because it gives you a chance to make sure that no
one has put any stuff on your credit report that doesn’t belong there. So you want to make sure that you’re taking
a look at it each year to make sure that there aren’t errors on your report. I did this myself, as I do every year, and
I found that there was an error on my report. There was a phone company that I had never
used before, so I had to go through the process and the work of having that removed from my
credit report. So you know, it can happen to anyone, and
it’s something that we each have to be diligent in making sure that we’re not made victim
to. Now you will not get your credit score when
you pull your annual credit report. So if you’re interested in your credit score,
you can get a free look at your credit score through CreditKarma.com. That’s www.CreditKarma.com. It’s actually free, and it’s a tool you can
use to check your credit score. So if you do look at your credit report, and
you find that there’s something wrong, you’re going to need to contact the credit reporting
agencies to address those errors. And you can get some guidance on that through
www.ConsumerFinance.gov. This is also a place where you can ask questions,
and if you run into a problem trying to correct an error on your report, or you’re having
difficulty with a financial company who is behaving badly, you can post that — those
incidences through ConsumerFinance.gov, and they’ll look into it. And they’ll get back to you and provide you
some guidance. We did get a question earlier in the Q and
A box, someone asking, “What do I do if I need to decrease my debt, or I’m working with
someone who needs to do that, or I’m living with someone who needs to do that? I’m not sure where is a safe place to go to
help me with that.” And there is a safe place for you to go to
get support in decreasing your debt and working on your credit. We recommend the National Foundation for Credit
Counseling, which is NFCC.org. They are a not-for-profit. They’re reputable. They provide many services for free, and they
are a safe place for you to contact and get support in tackling your debt or your credit
issues. Okay, we also want to talk to you about the
Earned Income Tax Credit, IDA programs, and ABLE accounts, because they’re all ways to
save money to reach your goal. So let’s start by talking about the Earned
Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is provided by
the IRS. And I’m not sure if you know, but they give
you a tax credit for working. It’s called the EITC, and it’ a tax credit
for low- to moderate-income workers ages 25 to 64, or 18 to 64 with a qualifying child. You can file for the EITC even if you didn’t
earn enough to file taxes. So if you’re on the line and you worked a
little bit in 2016, and you don’t have any tax liability, so you didn’t plan on filing
taxes, we encourage you to file, because you may not have earned a lot, but you could have
earned enough to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. So you can file for the tax credit even if
the tax year has passed. You can go up to three years. And that means you can go back as far as 2013. So if you file by April 15th, you can file
for 2017, 2016, and 2015 and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for each of these years
— each of those years. Sorry about that. You can secure up to $6318 in 2017. In 2016 the max credit was $6269. And in 2015 it was $6242. So if you had earnings from work in any of
those years, all you need to do is file for it. And if you do not have a qualifying child,
you know, you may still qualify as long as you’re between 25 and 64. So it’s something that we encourage you to
do and look into, and not leave that money on the table. You can get more information on the Earned
Income Tax Credit by contacting the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, at
1-800-906-9887, or the American Association of Retired Persons at 1-888-227-7669. You can also find information by visiting
www.IRS.gov, forward slash, EITC. I want to share two things about the Earned
Income Tax Credit with you. One is that the Volunteer Income Tax program
does a really great job with taxes. Even though it says volunteer, these folks
are trained by the IRS. They’re tax filings are reviewed by the IRS,
and they have a very high rate of doing accurate taxes. The other thing I want to make sure you know
is that sometimes individuals that receive social security disability benefits don’t
claim their tax refunds because they’re concerned about there being an impact on their benefits. So if you claim your Earned Income Tax Credit,
or your tax refund, or your childcare tax credit, none of those count against any federally-funded
public benefit. So they don’t count as income, and they don’t
count as a resource or an asset for up to 12 months. So I really encourage you, if you haven’t
before, file and claim your Earned Income Tax Credit. Put that money back in your pocket or your
bank account, and maybe use it toward the goal that you identified earlier. Okay, now let’s talk about individual development
accounts. Individual development accounts, or IDAs,
can help you on the way to financial independence. They’re great because it’s a matched savings
program. So that means the IDA program will match the
dollars that you save. The match may be dollar-for-dollar, $1 for
$2. It really depends on the program how much
the match is. And that’s one of the questions you’ll want
to ask the IDA program when you call them to find out more information. So what can an IDA help you fund? Well, an IDA can help you fund home ownership;
your college education, including textbooks; or starting your own business. Depending on the IDA program, it may also
fund other small goals that will get you on the road to financial independence. IDA programs vary greatly, so you have to
investigate the options available to you in your local area. Where can you learn more about IDAs? Well, for starters, I want to make sure you
know that, unfortunately, IDAs are not available in all states. But to see if an IDA is offered in your area,
you can go to http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, IDAResouces.org, forward slash,
AFIGrantees. And what you’ll find there are federally-funded
IDA programs that are available in your local area. It’s important to note when an IDA program
is federally funded, because then the money that you set aside will not count as a resource
against any federally-funded public benefit program. The match money you receive will not count
as income under federally-funded — any federally-funded public program. And the interest that you receive will not
count as income or as an asset. So that’s an important question to ask, “Is
this a federally-funded IDA?” The CFED also offers a website directory of
public — of IDA programs. Those include some federally-funded IDAs and
some other IDA programs that are not federally-funded. You can find those at http, colon, forward
slash, forward slash, CFED.org, forward slash, programs, forward slash, IDAs, forward slash. And I just want to remind you, if the IDA
is federally funded, the money in the IDA account and all of the match and interest
do not count as a resource for any federally-funded public benefit, but if it is not federally
funded, then you have to do the work of finding out how the program was set up, how the account
was set up to see if it will count against your benefits or not. Social Security created an SSI spotlight on
IDAs that explains how SSI treats the money you put into an IDA account. If you’ve never looked at these SSI spotlights,
they’re really helpful, they’re easy to read, and they provide great information. You can find them at https, colon, forward
slash, forward slash, www.SocialSecurity.gov, forward slash, SSI, forward slash, spotlights,
forward slash, spot, hyphen, individual, hyphen, development.htm. Okay, the las thing I want to share with you
is information on ABLE accounts. So what are ABLE accounts? They are qualified savings accounts that receive
preferred federal tax treatment. So they’re treated like 529 accounts, which
are college savings accounts. They enable eligible individuals to save for
disability-related expenses. The total contribution in one — any given
year cannot exceed the federal gift tax limit, which is currently $14,000. Your contributions in total — so over multiple
years — may not exceed the state limit for 529 savings accounts. And that state limit currently ranges from
$250,000 to $500,000. And you can find out the state limit at the
ABLE National Resource Center, which is www.ABLENRC.org. Let’s talk about who is eligible for ABLE
accounts. To be eligible for ABLE accounts, you have
to meet two requirements. There is an age requirement. You must have incurred your disability before
age 26, and there is a severity of disability requirement. So you have to be determined to meet the disability
requirements for supplemental security income, or SSI, or social security disability benefits,
Title XVI or Title II of the Social Security Act. So if you’re on the line and you receive SSDI
or SSI, you are good as long as you incurred your disability before age 26. But if you’re on the line, and you — or you
know someone, or you work with someone who is not receiving SSI or SSDI, but did incur
their disability before age 26, they will have to submit a disability certification,
including a physician’s diagnosis that they meet the criteria for an ABLE account. And that’s the severity of the disability
aspect of the ABLE regulations. Here’s a little more information about ABLE. ABLE assets are disregarded and will be disregarded
or receive favorable treatment to determine eligibility for most federal means-tested
benefits. ABLE accounts are just one year old, so there
are new announcements coming forward from different federally-funded programs to affirm
these rules. If you have an ABLE account and you receive
SSI, the first $100,000 in an ABLE account will be disregarded rather than the higher
asset limit we discussed earlier. So if you start working, and you start regularly
saving into an able account, and one day in the future you have more than $100,000 in
your ABLE account, your SSI payments will be suspended but your eligibility for your
SSI benefit will not be terminated. Funds above the $100,000 in the ABLE account
will be treated as a resource. So let’s do a quick recap of all of this,
because I know we just provided you a lot of technical information all at once. You can open an ABLE account if you incurred
your disability before age 26 and you receive SSI or SSDI. Or if you don’t receive SSI or SSDI, then
you need to get a doctor’s certification that you have a disability. You can open an ABLE account no matter what
state you live in, because when you go to the ABLE National Resource Center, which is
www.ABLENRC.org, you will find that many programs are serving anyone in any state. So don’t worry that your home state hasn’t
opened an ABLE account yet. You can sign up in another state if you want
to get that started and you want to be able to save money. You can use the money in your ABLE account
for anything that will improve your quality of life. So some of you in the Q and A box, I can see,
are very interested in going to school. You could use money in your ABLE account to
pay for school. We have had questions about paratransit. You could use money in an ABLE account for
paratransit. Anything that allows you to maintain or improve
your quality of life, you are able to use your ABLE account funds for. You can save up to $14,000 a year into your
ABLE account, and you can have a maximum amount in your ABLE account equal to whatever the
state 529 limit is. Right now that’s $250,000 to $500,000. I know those are big dollars, and you may
be thinking, “Wow, I’m not sure if I could save that much money.” But that’s okay. ABLE account just affords you the possibility
to do that. You now have the opportunity. If you receive SSI, you can save up to $100,000
in your ABLE account before your SSI is suspended — not terminated, suspended. The great thing about ABLE accounts is your
potential to save just blew wide open, even if you receive a federally-funded public benefit. And if you’re on the line today and you receive
SSI, that means that your option to save money just went from $2000 to $100,000. So it’s an incredible opportunity. You can find out more at www.ABLENRC.org. We asked the question earlier, “Financial
Independence, is it possible for me?” And we still commit to you the answer is yes,
with hard work, and planning, education, training. You have opportunities through these WISE
Webinars. You have support through the Social Security
work incentive. And you have lots of other resources that
we’ve connected you to. You can now see how you can define for yourself
a path to secure a job, a career, to set financial goals for yourself, and to firmly make some
steps toward a better financial future. Are there risks? Absolutely. Getting information from these WISE Webinars
will help you to manage those risks well. You can attack this in a way that’s smart. And being smart means getting to know the
Ticket to Work program, the social security rules. They — those will help you to navigate toward
a good job, an understanding of what’s going to happen to your benefits, and a better self-supporting
future. Remember to follow the rules, and learn how
and when to report your earnings. Keep good records, because it will help you
take advantage of work incentives and avoid overpayments. I also hope you all take advantage of the
resources we talked about today. I want to remind you that we are here to help
you succeed in financial independence. We hope you will revisit what we talked about
today, and that you will hold onto these words, we are here to support you. Please call on us. We’re ready to hear from you. Right, thank you, Nancy.>>Thank you very much, Elizabeth. Your enthusiasm really comes through, and
we greatly appreciate that. We have had several questions come in while
you have been presenting. So I’d like to go back to individual development
accounts for a second. Somebody has a really good question about
that. And Marlene, I think I’m going to direct this
question to you. And that is, “If I set up an IDA, do I need
to notify the Social Security Administration?”>>And the answer to that is yes. You do need to let them the Social Security
Administration know, and also provide them with documentation of the IDA so that they
can actually determine if the IDA is federally funded or how it’s funded, and if it meets
their policy guidelines, because if it’s federally funded, they’ll be deducting those contributions
from earnings. And they’re not going to consider match funds
and interest, which they disregard. And the money in that IDA account is not counted
as a resource. So it’s really important that you provide
them with all of the information so that they can have it at hand when they perform redeterminations
on a wage-earner’s account.>>Great, thank you very much, Marlene. And we have also had some questions come in
regarding ABLE accounts. And I guess this is either for Elizabeth or
Marlene. The question is, “Can you provide some examples
of what might be considered disability-related expenses for an ABLE account?”>>Sure, that’s a great question. Sometimes we think of disability-related expenses
as just related to your disability, but under the ABLE accounts, they can be anything that
you as a person with a disability needs. So what would not count? Let’s say you bought something for somebody
else, that would be harder to count as a valid expense for ABLE. But if it’s for you, it doesn’t specifically
have to be medical or related to your disability, but it does have to be for you as the person
with the disability, and it does have to help you maintain your current quality of life
or improve it.>>Thank you, Elizabeth. And one last question that we can fit in is,
“Can I go to any bank to set up my ABLE account?”>>Great question. Unfortunately, no, you cannot. The ABLE National Resource Center, ABLENRC.org,
lets you see which states have open ABLE account programs, and lets you compare side by side
the different states so you can make an informed choice about which program is right for you,
but you do have to use one of the programs.>>Thank you, Elizabeth. And thank you both, Elizabeth and Marlene. We had a lot of great questions great answers
for all of you who are listening today. As I mentioned before, we had close to 450
individuals online today. I’m sorry if we did not get to all of your
questions. We do have some additional resources for you. And one of the first resources that I would
like to talk to you about is the FDIC. The FDIC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
has a program called Money Smart. It is a free financial education program designed
to help low- and moderate-income individuals to increase their financial skills and to
create positive banking relationships. So to get more information on Money Smart,
you can go to http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, www.FDIC.gov, forward slash,
consumers, forward slash, consumer, forward slash, MoneySmart, forward smart, index.html. Another resource that we have available for
you is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also known as the CFPB. And the CFPB’s mission is to make markets
for consumer financial products and services work for Americans, whether that’s applying
for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any other number of consumer financial
products. So for more information on the CFPB, you can
go to http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, www.ConsumerFinance.gov. And please know that if we did not answer
your questions today, you can always call the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842
for voice, or for TTY, 1-866-833-2967, again, for TTY. You can also visit www.SocialSecurity.gov,
forward slash, work. We would also like to have you connect with
us and give us any feedback. So you can like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com,
forward slash, ChooseWork. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com,
forward slash, ChooseWorkSSA. We also have a good number of Ticket to Work
videos on our YouTube channel for you to watch. And that — those videos can be located at
http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, YouTube.com, forward slash, ChooseWork. We hope that we were able to get to your questions. If not, please follow us on the web. And you can look at all of our blogs and other
resources. And also please contact the Ticket helpline
if you have any other questions. Again, we thank Marlene Ulisky and Elizabeth
Jennings for their wonderful information today. And I do want to let you know that we do have
another Webinar that will be coming up on February 22nd, Wednesday, as usual, 3:00 to
4:30 Eastern Time. And that will be on selecting a service provider
that is right for you. And the last thing that you are going to see
on your screen is a reminder to tell us what you think. Please remember to take our survey. A link will pop up after the Webinar. Or you can use visit www.ChooseWork.net, forward
slash, surveys, forward slash, WISE to let us know what you think. Thank you very much, and this concludes our
event today. Good-bye.

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