Returning to work with a disability? Case managers share the 5 most common questions
Case managers handle many different aspects to help people with disabilities return to work. Even before they begin providing job search assistance, Case Managers dispel myths job seekers harbor about the Ticket-to-Work (TTW) program. TTW helps Social Security beneficiaries return to work when their health has stabilized or improved. The program provides former workers with significant incentives to return to the labor market, including protection of their Social Security benefits (SSDI) and Medicare coverage while they work.
I checked with our team of Case Managers at Allsup Employment Services (AES) to find out the most frequently asked questions they receive from new clients. Here’s what they reported back.
Independent job search
Q: I can look for employment myself and contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) directly. how can you help me
A: We have many clients who are independent in their job search efforts and may not require a high level of job search assistance. However, we can act as a resource for:
- job leads
- employment opportunities
- Request reasonable accommodation
- Assistance in preparing for the interview
In addition, we can help job applicants with their social security reporting requirements when they take up employment. We can submit their payslips directly to SSA so they don’t have to, and most importantly, we can track their monthly income.
Working on benefits
Q: Is it true that I can only work a certain number of hours and still keep my benefits?
A: That is wrong. While beneficiaries are on their probationary period (TWP), they can work and earn as much as they like. The TWP allows them to test their ability to work and still get their full SSDI performance every month, regardless of how much they earn. The TWP is a time to maximize your earning potential.
Q: I heard I can’t make more than $1,300 a month and keep my benefits. Is that true?
A: While there is some truth to this statement, it is also a short-term perspective that can harm the financial future of the beneficiaries. They can return to work and make $1,300/month or less and still keep their monthly benefit. However, they may use up their trial period (TWP).
A related concern is that the beneficiaries could have earned a higher amount. They use a trial month (TWM) if their monthly income exceeds $970 in 2022 ($940 in 2021). It is important to get the most out of Ticket to Work, especially understanding the rules and applying them correctly. This is where the expertise of employment networks (EN) like AES can really help.
Why your income matters
Q: Why is it important to keep track of my earnings?
A: SSA bases program incentives on the amount earned by beneficiaries. Your earnings are used to track your progress on TTW, a multi-year program. Income reporting to the SSA is also important, as part of the agency’s role is to monitor and prevent overpayments from Social Security when a beneficiary attempts to return to work.
How to navigate through finance
Q: How do I find out my finances after receiving SSDI?
A: It can be confusing for beneficiaries to understand how to manage their work and income after receiving SSDI. They need to look at their monthly expenses, expenses, budget and how to get back to work. This can feel overwhelming to them at first, but it is an area where a case manager can provide guidance and encouragement.
As you can see, beneficiaries may have many misconceptions about the Ticket to Work program. Also, the program includes nuances that case managers can explain to beneficiaries to ensure they understand the program, abide by the rules, and take full advantage of the incentives Ticket to Work offers.