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WISE Webinar 2018-06: Ticket to Work: Support on Your Journey to Financial Independence

WISE Webinar 2018-06: Ticket to Work: Support on Your Journey to Financial Independence


WISE Ticket to Work Webinar
Support on Your Journey to Financial Independence June 27, 2018 Speakers: Stacey Plizga (Moderator), Windy
Swearingin & Larrisa Cummings (Presenters) STACEY>>Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome
to today’s Ticket to Work webinar: Support on Your Journey to Financial Independence. My name is Stacey Plizga. I am a member of the Ticket to Work Team,
and I will be your moderator for today’s webinar. To get us started today, I would like to review
some items that will help you get the most out of today’s webinar. First, to access the webinar you can manage
your audio using the audio option that is at the top of your screen. The audio option is an icon that looks like
a microphone or a telephone. All attendees will be muted throughout today’s
webinar; thus, we encourage you to attend by “Listen Only,” which appears at the bottom
right in the audio menu. This will enable the sound to be broadcast
through your computer; so if you have not already, please go ahead and take a moment
to make sure your speakers are turned on or your headphones are plugged in. If you are unable to connect to the audio
with your computer today or if you prefer to listen by phone, dial 1-800-832-0736 and
enter access code: 4189148#. The next item we would like to share with
you deals with webinar accessibility. Real-time captioning is available, and it
can be found in the “Captioning” pod which appears below the slide that is on your screen
right now. You can also access captioning online by going
to: www.captiontext.com/client/event.aspx?CustomerID=1038&EventID=3639207. This link can also be found in the “Web Links”
pod in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. We look forward to and we encourage your participation
today. Questions you have during the webinar can
be submitted by typing them into the “Q&A” pod, and we will direct the questions to the
appropriate speaker during the Q&A portion of our webinar. We do have a very large number of participants
today, which we are thrilled about; and we will do our best to answer as many of your
questions as possible. If you are listening by phone and you are
not logged into the webinar, you may ask questions by sending an e-mail to: [email protected] At the bottom right-hand side of your screen,
you will find the “Web Links” pod, which lists all of the links to the resources that will
be presented during today’s webinar. To access any of these resources, highlight
the topic you would like to connect to; and then select the “Browse To” button at the
bottom of the pod, and you’ll be taken to the website requested. In the event that you are listening by phone
and not logged into the webinar, you can e-mail: [email protected] for a list of
available resources. Today’s webinar is being recorded, and a copy
of this will be available within two weeks on the Choose Work website, which can be accessed
at http://bit.ly/WISEarchives. This link, as well as the other ones mentioned,
can be found in that Web Links pod we just talked about in the bottom right-hand corner
of your screen. We hope everyone has a great experience on
the webinar today. However, if by chance you run into any technical
difficulties, please use the Q&A box to send us a message; or you can send us an e-mail
at: [email protected] Again, this link can be found in the Web Links
pod that is at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. As mentioned earlier, my name is Stacey Plizga. I am a member of the Ticket to Work Team,
and I am very excited to be here with you today moderating this webinar. We are delighted to have with us today two
individuals who will share information about Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program. Our first speaker, Windy Swearingin, is the
Alaska Statewide Lead Disability Resources Coordinator for the Disability Employment
Initiative Round 6. She oversees the Alaska Statewide Workforce
Employment Network and works with Ticket to Work beneficiaries and is also a certified
Community Partner Work Incentive Counselor. Our second speaker, Larrisa Cummings, is the
project Director for the Alaska WIPA Project at the University of Alaska Center for Human
Development. She has worked for the WIPA, or the Work Incentives
Planning and Assistance Project, since 2007 and has been certified as a Community Work
Incentives Coordinator since 2008. We are very excited to have them with us here
today. Our speakers will be covering a number of
topics in the webinar today. We will start by touching upon Social Security
Disability benefits, and then we will discuss in more detail the Ticket to Work Program
and starting your journey. We will also discuss Ticket to Work Service
Providers and the support that is available through them, workforce incentives and the
Ticket to work Program, and the phases of the Path to Work. Our presenters will then talk to you about
putting it all together and the next steps. As noted earlier, we welcome all of your questions
and will conclude with addressing your questions on today’s topics. With that being said, it is my pleasure to
introduce to you our first presenter today, Windy Swearingin, who will discuss the Ticket
to Work Program and how it works. Windy? WINDY>>Good morning, everybody. I’d like to talk today about Social Security
Disability benefits, and the first place I want to start is the difference between SSI
and SSDI. SSDI is the Social Security Disability Insurance
program; and like it states in its definition, insurance is what you pay into. So the SSDI is contributions that are based
on your earnings when you go to work. If you’ve ever gone to work and you look at
your paycheck and it says “FICA,” that is the Federal Insurance Contribution Act that
takes out money and contributes it to the Social Security Act. Then if you ever need it and you get a disability,
it becomes your SSDI. SSI is a little bit different. It’s a supplemental security income; and the
SSI Program is a cash assistance payment to aged, blind, and disability persons…including
children will be paid out of this program too. It has limits on its income and resources
where SSI does not. There are individuals that can be concurrent
beneficiaries who can receive both SSI and SSDI. Both of these programs have work incentives
that go with each one of them, so it’s important that you know which one you’re on or which
one you’re getting paid out of so that you can utilize those work incentives. So let’s talk about the Ticket to Work Program. First of all, I’d like to start with your
journey; and only you can decide if work is the right choice for you. When it comes to working, is it part-time,
full-time, training, changing careers, et cetera? What is right for you? Only you are the one that can make that decision. If you receive SSDI or SSI benefits, you and
your representative payee, or you and somebody that is in an employment network or later,
will provide that information can decide what your goals are and what’s the right choice
for you. But it’s super important that when you do
go to work and when you decide to start that journey that you must report your income to
Social Security. You have to report when you start or stop
work. You have to report the duties, hours, and
pay if it changes. It’s important that you also report any impairment-related
work expenses, which Larrisa will talk about a little bit later. So why is it important to choose work? The first one is you earn more income. Working allows you to earn more money and
find the right situations that work for you. Again, is it working part-time, full-time,
or starting a new career? You can gain financial independence. With benefits from SSI and SSDI, you have
a ceiling that you can earn that you have every month. With a job, you can earn more or less depending
on your skills. You can also get training to advance in a
position, and you can use your skills to transition to new and exciting positions or careers. You can meet new people, make new friends,
learn how to adjust in new situations and, of course, learn new skills that can transition
to new careers as well. Lastly, you can learn new skills. From every job that you have and every job
that you try, you learn and train and have transferrable skills. These can be applied to new and exciting careers
or jobs. So what is the Ticket to Work Program? First of all, the Ticket to Work Program is
always free and always voluntary. You can choose the Ticket to Work Program
that is right for you and the employment network that is right to assign your ticket to. You can unassign at any time, or you can assign
them; you do not have to assign. The Ticket to Work Program helps Social Security
beneficiaries go to work, get a job, and become financially independent. You can keep your Medicare and Medicaid depending
on your situation…and Larrisa will talk to you more about those…and Social Security
benefits. As long as you have Social Security benefits
and you’re between the ages of 18 through 64, you probably qualify for this program. Lastly, if it’s a good fit for you, you should
talk to somebody about whether the Ticket to Work Program and moving forward in your
career is a good choice for you. What services does Ticket to Work offer? Our goal as an employment network is to help
you with job coaching, job counseling, training, benefits counseling, and job placement. These are some of the services that are offered
to you, and there are more. For instance, in Alaska we also offer interview
preparation, career counseling and guidance, job development and, of course, that important
piece of Social Security benefits advisement on how working is going to impact your benefits. Every employment network is different, and
so finding the right one that fits your needs is super important. Like I said before, who qualifies for the
Ticket to Work Program? If you receive Social Security benefits…either
SSDI or SSI…and you’re between the ages of 18 and 64, you could potentially qualify. Remember, you do not have to have an actual,
physical ticket to participate. How does it work? Here’s an example of a path to success. Every person’s path may be different. It should be individualized to you, and you
are the one that leads these discussions and your goals. But the following provides an example of a
path to success. First, speak with a WIPA counselor to help
you decide if the Ticket to Work Program is right for you. You can also contact Social Security’s Help
Line at https://choosework.ssa.gov to find an employment
network that has a WIPA program near you. If so, you can choose a service provider and
assign your ticket, either an employment network or a vocational rehab center. You can talk to a Benefits Counselor about
how working is going to affect your benefits; you can create a plan and a timeline to achieve
your personal goals; you can follow your plan, report your work and earnings and, of course,
celebrate your successes. Remember that reporting your working and earnings
is an important part of any plan. Let’s talk about the different Ticket to Work
service providers and what they might be able to do for you. First of all, finding the right support is
important. There are State vocational rehabilitation
agencies; employment networks; workforce employment networks; the Work Incentives Planning & Assistance
projects, or the WIPA; Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security organizations
or the PABSS. These vocational rehabilitation agencies are
furnished by the Federal Government, and they are in every state. They help you return to work or enter a new
line of work through training. They have career counseling, job placement
and, of course, benefits counseling. But remember that VR takes time. They’re there to help you with training, making
a plan; and it’s not an overnight solution to finding work. The career exploration and training that is
right for you depends on you, and they’re there to help you make that long-term plan. They also provide Partnership Plus in a lot
of states, with employment networks for a continuum of support after closure so that
you have support through your working in case something happens. Employment networks are agencies that have
an agreement with Social Security to provide that free employment support servicing. Remember, for people that are eligible, they
either have SSI, SSDI, and they’re between the ages of 18 and 64. They help you prepare for, find, or maintain
employment through those services that we talked about before: career planning, job
search and placement, ongoing employment support, benefit counseling, and assistance with accommodation. Workforce ENs are much like employment ENs
except for they are also part of the State public workforce system. They provide a variety of support services,
including training and special programs for veterans and young adults. You may also qualify for services beyond that,
such as our services in Alaska; we offer training for individuals in the workforce. You could qualify for additional services
with VR and the workforce together…programs that are designed to help employment services,
such as training and getting you back into the job. Larrisa is going to talk to you now about
the WIPA and beyond. LARRISA>>Thank you, Windy. In continuing with the support that you’ll
find out there, we have the WIPA projects, Work Incentive Planning & Assistance projects. Those were established by Social Security
to provide expert benefit counseling for people who receive Social Security disability benefits
and the information on how their work will impact their benefits. The services for the WIPA project are free. They provide the free benefits counseling,
which usually includes a written report called the Benefits Summary Analysis, or BSA, and
a counselor, or a CWIC, to go over that report with you in a review that can take about an
hour. In addition, we provide ongoing services. So as people’s work situations change and
they have more questions that come up or they’re moving through some of the work incentive
programs, we just provide that follow-along service where we can answer those questions
and continue to provide that support. All WIPA projects are staffed by community
work incentive coordinators, or CWICs, who are benefit specialists and can provide that
in-depth counseling about working, about how the money that you make will affect your benefits…and
not just Social Security benefits but other benefits that you might receive including
veterans benefits, housing benefits, and that kind of thing…so will provide counseling
on more than just the Social Security benefits. The WIPA projects will serve people who are
working, who have a job offer pending, or are actively interviewing for jobs and they
are ages 14 through 65. Even if they’re not actively pursuing work,
we work with the younger group in order to encourage them and kind of give that early
support so that they can move on to actually looking for work and getting a job. We also provide services for veterans. Then the last agency that provides some support
in this network of supports is the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security
or the PABSS. The PABSS program helps people who receive
Social Security disability benefits and who have a disability-related barrier to employment. The PABSS advocates provide legal support. They provide advocacy with employers, and
they give information to assist beneficiaries to help them resolve employment-related concerns
with employers, with Social Security employment networks, State VR agencies, WIPA projects,
and others. They’re there to provide information, advocacy,
and sometimes, if needed, legal support. To
learn more about the service providers that we just talked about, you can review the Ticket
to Work Meet Your Employment Team, which is at the website: https://choosework.ssa.gov/about/meet-your-employment-team. And again, a reminder that you can find these
links in the “Web Links” box to the right of the presentation. On that particular website, Meet Your Employment
Team, you’re going to see the overview of what Windy and I just went through. It’s going to show the workforce employment
networks, the State vocational rehabilitation, or VR, agencies; the WIPA projects, and the
PABSS. And it lists what kind of services each of
those people provide so that you can get an idea of how to utilize them and make them
a part of your team. You can find a service provider at https://choosework.ssa.gov/findhelp. In that website, you’re going to find some
guidance on how to achieve your work goals, on how to utilize the different providers
and services that are out there. There are a couple of different ways to search
for the different providers. You can use a guided search or a direct search,
so you can get some help and guidance on that website as well. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help
Line. Their hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00
a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Their phone number is 1-866-968-7842. Their TTY line is 1-866-833-2967. You can find helpful tips and questions to
ask when selecting a Ticket to Work service provider by going to the following website. The first one is Finding an Employment Network
and Assigning Your Ticket. That website is https://choosework.ssa.gov/library/finding-EN-assigning-your-ticket-worksheet. The second website that’s helpful is Choosing
the Right EN for you. That is: https://choosework.ssa.gov/library/choosing-the-right-employment-network-for-you. So those are two different websites that can
help you to find an EN, help you to assign your ticket, and help you to choose the right
EN for you…the one that will provide the services that you particularly need. We’re going to talk now about the work incentives
and the Ticket to Work Program. We’re not really going into work incentives
in any kind of depth here; but there are, as Windy mentioned earlier; different work
incentives for each of the different benefit programs. So SSI and SSDI are going to have different
work incentives, and that’s why it’s so important for you to know which program that you’re
on. Social Security work incentives will make
it easier for people with disabilities to work and still hang onto those medical benefits
and, in some cases, even retain the cash payment from Social Security. Work incentives are tools that can be used
to try out work. For many people, the fear of losing benefits
is a barrier to employment; and people avoid working because they are afraid they’ll lose
their benefits. So one of the things that we’ve discovered
is probably the most important tool is getting that benefit counseling from a CWIC, a community
work incentive coordinator, who can provide that expert benefit knowledge and make it
specific to your situation because every situation is different. The benefits that you have are all different,
so you’ll need counseling on each of the different benefits that you get. Work incentives are special Social Security
rules that will allow you to receive training for new skills, improve the skills you already
have, pursue your education or other type of job training, to try out different jobs,
start a career, and help you to gain confidence in your ability to work. Both the SSDI and SSI programs have work incentives;
and like we said, the work incentives for those programs are different. There are a lot of myths and misinformation
out there, so be sure that you get accurate information from a CWIC. Only a CWIC has been certified by Social Security
as being qualified to provide that information. Some really important work incentives revolve
around the medical services that people have through those programs. So people who are on SSI usually have Medicaid,
and people on SSDI have Medicare; and they’re both two different programs with different
work incentives, like we said before. We aren’t going to go into detail about all
the work incentives, but we really did want to talk to you about the Medicare and Medicaid
because that’s often the thing that people are afraid of losing the most…is the medical
care that they can get. So for Medicaid, there are a couple of work
incentives…one of which is 1619(b), and that is a work incentive that you can receive
while working. That’s a work incentive that will allow you
to earn over a certain amount of money, and your SSI payment may stop…it may go to zero…but
you would still be able to continue your Medicaid coverage through 1619(b). You might qualify for that if you’ve been
eligible for an SSI cash payment for at least one month prior to that happening; if you
continue to meet Social Security’s definition of disability; and if you meet all the other
non-disability SSI requirements such as resource limits and if you need the Medicaid benefits
to continue work. If your gross earnings are below your state’s
threshold of eligibility, then you’ll continue to qualify for that work incentive. If they go over that, then there’s another
work incentive that we’re going to talk about. But if you’re medical costs are higher than
the average for your state, then you can actually apply for a higher threshold, called an “individualized
threshold,” and you can apply for that through Social Security. So if you’ve got pretty high medical costs
that go over that amount, then that’s another work incentive actually; it’s to apply for
that. Most states…although not all states…will
allow you to purchase Medicaid under a buy-in program. If you’re working and you have a disability
under Social Security, you can sign up for and buy into Medicaid through this program. In Alaska, our program is very originally
called “Working Disabled Medicaid Buy-In.” It is exactly what it says it is. If you’re working and you have a disability,
you can buy into Medicaid. Since not all states have this program, then
you would want to check with your state Medicaid Agency to find out the rules of your state
for that. So for Medicare, which is typically the benefit
that goes along with people who receive SSDI, Medicare can be extended; and this work incentive
is called the “extended period of Medicare coverage.” It can be extended for 93 consecutive months,
both hospital insurance Part A; Supplemental Medical Insurance Part B if enrolled in that;
and prescription drug coverage, Part D, also if enrolled. This 93 months actually start the month after
the last month of your trial work period. I realize we didn’t really talk about trial
work period; that is another work incentive for the SSDI folks. Once that trial work period is completed,
then that’s when the 93 months would start. Keep in mind that a trial work period consists
of nine months where you would earn over $850 a month. That’s for 2018…those numbers change every
year…and the months don’t have to be consecutive. So if you’re receiving SSDI and you’re working
and you want to know more about this, then you can contact the WIPA projects and get
that information that’s specific to you. So the Medicare for people with disabilities
who work is another option for people. After their Medicare coverage ends due to
work, then you can purchase Medicare hospital and medical insurance if you continue to have
a disability. So your Medicare theoretically could never
end; as long as you’re eligible, if you still have a disabling impairment, and if your Medicare
stopped due to work. You will not be eligible again for free Medicare
Part A. If you turn 65 or become entitled to disability benefits again, your benefits
would start over…so it would just be a different deal there. You may also be eligible for a program that
helps pay your Medicaid Part A monthly premiums. To be eligible for this help, you must continue
to have a disabling impairment, sign up for hospital insurance Part A, and have limited
income and limited resources and not already be eligible for Medicaid. So there is some help out there for paying
that Medicare premium if you meet some of these requirements. To learn more about work incentives, there
are some really good resources. The first one is reviewing The Red Book. The Red Book is published by Social Security. Currently right now on this website, they
only have the 2017 Red Book available, which has all of the old numbers for 2017. If you want to click on the link that says
“What’s New in 2018,” it gives you the updated numbers for 2018. So you have to just remember if the book doesn’t
have the current year, you’re going to want to check the updates for that. The Web link to get to the Red Book is www.ssa.govredbook. That will give you a lot of information on
work incentives. I also want to mention that they don’t actually
call them “work incentives” in the Red Book. If you’re looking under the Table of Contents,
you’re going to look under SSDI Only Employment Support; and those are where you’ll find some
of the work incentives that we’re talking about and for SSI Only, Employment Support…that’s
what they call them in The Red Book, and that’s where you would find more information on them. Another place to learn more information is
on the Choose Work website, which is: https://bit.ly – I’m sorry. I’m giving you the wrong website address;
let me back up. The Choose Work website address for work incentives
is: https://choosework.ssa.gov/about/work-incentives. There’s a whole page there on work incentives
and the Ticket to Work Program, and it kind of breaks things out by which benefit you
might be receiving. You can also read the Choose Work’s Work Incentives
Wednesdays blog series; and that is at: http://bit.ly/blogWIW. You can also attend future WISE webinars. They provide the WISE webinars on a regular
basis, and future webinars will probably go into more detail about work incentives. So you could choose a webinar that actually
goes into detail about work incentives to learn more on there as well; and that website
to find out when the webinars are is: https://choosework.ssa.gov/webinars-tutorials. If you’re already working, you can contact
your State with a project to get the free benefits counseling…the work incentive counseling. If you’re already working or if you’re working
on a work goal, you can do that. But do be aware that some states don’t post
their direct phone number. They will direct you to call the Ticket to
Work Help Line; and then once you’ve reached the Ticket to Work Help Line, those folks
will get some information from you. If it’s a good referral for WIPA services,
then they will refer you to that WIPA; and the WIPA will call you. So just different states have a little bit
different process for contacting them. So if you get kind of sent to the Ticket to
Work Help Line, that’s okay; that’s a way a lot of WIPAs are doing that. So you just look up your WIPA projects for
your state and find out how to contact them for that service. Okay, I’m going to turn it over to Stacey
now for questions. STACEY>>Thank you, Larrisa, and also for
the great information that you were able to share with us about the Ticket to Work Program. Before we move on, we’re going to take a look
at some of the questions that came in from our participants thus far. So just a reminder that if you have a question,
go ahead and put it into the Q&A pod; and we will make sure that we get it to the presenters
as appropriate. Windy and Larrisa, you are both from Alaska. Does the information that you have talked
about today apply to people nationwide? WINDY>>I’ll start. The programs that I talked about earlier do
apply nationwide. There should be ENs, and there should be VRs
for you somewhere around your community. If not, you can always go to the Help Line. It should be in the Web links. If you go down, there’s a Web link that says
“Find Help Tool” to find the nearest employment network or VR or workforce employment network
that can assist you with the Ticket to Work Program. Or there may not be one in your state, but
there are national Ticket to Work programs as well that and help you with getting back
to work and the tools to succeed in finding that work or that job. LARRISA>>Yes, and agreeing with Windy, these
are national programs; they’re available in every state. The only caveat that I would put out there
is that Medicaid, while it’s a Federal program, is managed by the State; so each state has
different rules and different information. So for any Medicaid information, you’re going
to want to contact your state Medicaid office. Also, regarding WIPA projects, WIPA projects
can only help people in their own state. So if you are in Alaska, you can call the
Alaska WIPA Project. If you’re in Michigan, you’re going to contact
the Michigan WIPA Project. Like I said, some of the projects will actually
direct you to the Ticket to Work Help Line first, and then the Ticket to Work Help Line
will refer you to that WIPA. STACEY>>Okay, thank you, Windy and Larrisa. The next question that we have received from
our participants: “Do any of these services or working with a WIPA or EN cost any money?” So maybe we can start with Windy and then
move on to Larrisa? WINDY>>Yes, I want to stress that, no, it
does not. If somebody is charging you, then I would
find another one because that’s not what these programs are about. Social Security has contracted with all employment
networks, all workforce ENs, all WIPAs, to make this a free program for Social Security
beneficiaries. So it should not be costing you anything for
our services. We are providing this for you to get back
to work and for you to be successful and sustainable off of benefits and to have a future…not
to impede that. LARRISA>>This is Larrisa, and I agree with
Windy. Those are definitely free services. It’s paid for and funded by Social Security,
so the services are completely free; and if you’re getting charged, you probably want
to also report that. STACEY>>All right, thank you. We have a participant who is planning on going
to college and finding work. This participant would like to know if it
would benefit him or her to go to a VR for a job placement. WINDY>>I can take that; this is Windy. I think the benefits for going for VR is a
great benefit. First of all, if you’re going to college,
they can help with things such as paying for classes, paying for books, transportation
if you don’t have that. They can help provide the supports and services
that you may need to make you that much more successful. You may be getting financial aid, and that
financial aid will help support you in your classes or such; but VR can provide that added
support and tag onto what financial aid is already doing. The whole idea with VR, the whole idea with
providing these supports and services through these agencies, is to make you as successful
as possible. So I would contact your VR agency and find
out what they can do for you. Build your plan, and they can support you
through working. So your college is done…now what do you
do? Now they help also put you – they get you
through college and provide those supports, and then they go on to provide supports into
working…so finding a job or putting you in a placement or putting you in a volunteer
situation so that you can then get a job. That’s VR’s position, so I would definitely,
definitely reach out to VR. STACEY>>Thank you, Windy. Many times, the VR providers may not be very
close; maybe they could be up to 200 miles away or even further. So what are the options for people if that
is their situation? WINDY>>This is Windy again, and that’s true
with a lot of circumstances. We can’t place agencies right into every town
or every little place in the world. I wish we could because it’s really helpful
to have somebody right there one-on-one. However, I’m going to direct you back to that
Find Help tool because then you can find somebody either that serves your area or you can find
a virtual provider. I want to give you an example of Alaska and
how we do it. In Alaska, we’re so – I mean, our state
is huge compared to the United States. We have little tiny villages, and directing
them towards that Find Help would be the greatest place for them to go as well because they
could find a VR agency that is up to hundreds and hundreds of miles away too. So it’s just about finding that place that
could possibly serve your area or finding somebody virtually because there’s probably
somebody out there that does provide services, and they can do it in a way that’s either
on the phone or through a Skype message or whatever is convenient to you guys that you
can still build a plan and still be successful in finding a career. STACEY>>Thank you, Windy. So approximately how long does the process
take from assigning a ticket to getting an interview? We can start with you, Windy…and then if
Larrisa has anything to add. WINDY>>I’m going to stress that it’s very
individually driven. It’s up to the individual, and it’s up to
the community; and there are all kinds of things that could – it could go very fast,
it can go very slow. It can be based on your own personal wants,
desires, goals. It’s very, very individualized. I’ve had people assigned their ticket and
get a job within weeks; I’ve had people assigned their tickets and get a job within months. It really is up to you. The goal of the Ticket to Work Program is
really financial independency. So it’s really about working with your EN
and getting you to a point where you’re very comfortable; you’re off of your benefits of
SSI, SSDI; and you are comfortable making a living off of those and you have that financial
independence. That’s really the goal of it. We really want you to try. So it could be assigning your ticket and making
that short-term goal that you’re trying to work; and it may or may not work for you. But it’s the fact of trying out and getting
you to the point where you can be that financial independent person that you really want to
be. STACEY>>Okay, and you had talked about how
it could be a very quick process or it can take a little bit longer. Is there something that the individual can
do that will affect that if they’re a little more anxious to have it happen more quickly? WINDY>>Yeah, absolutely…so they can come
in with an open mind. I’ve had a lot of people that don’t want to
do this, don’t want to do that, don’t want to do this. It’s about finding the right position and
trying. So we really want to try different things. It could be like trying work and then finding
out that that’s not…. I just want to give you an example of a ticket
holder that I’ve just worked with. She hasn’t worked in years and years. She came to me, and she’s been assigned to
me since February; so it’s been about four months now. She’s tried going to work with kids. She found out that she did not like that. She was there for about three weeks; and she
called me and said, “You know what, I don’t like this; this is not for me.” I said, “Okay, that’s great, let’s find something
else.” We put her in another position. She was working at a hotel. She did not like that, and we tried something
else. Now she is back in HR, which is what she did
many, many, many years ago; and she’s very happy. But it took that try and try until we found
something….so just being open-minded and seeing where that fit could possibly be. Then this person is now working full-time
with benefits; and she’s very, very happy in her position. So it’s just about that fit for you. STACEY>>That’s a great point that you bring
up, Windy. A lot of times it may not be the first position
that we try out that is the right one for us. So it’s good to know that they have the option
to keep at it until they find something they’re comfortable with. WINDY>>And don’t be discouraged. STACEY>>Okay, moving on here…we have another
question: “Can an individual be in two programs, such as your state’s VR and the EN program? WINDY>>I can take that one too. It’s a yes and a no. You cannot have your ticket assigned to both;
however, we’re a workforce EN, and we work very closely in a Partnership Plus with our
VR. When our VR is getting close to closing a
ticket, they will contact us and have us working with the client a couple months before closure. That way, we can understand the client, their
goals, and all that good stuff. That way, when the VR closes and backs out,
we’re continuing to support. So it is a very fluid continuum of services. We’re also a workforce, so you can work with
a workforce at any time. If there’s a workforce agency in your state…and,
again, it could be virtual…but those workforces are there to support you. So you can always work with (inaudible) on
both sides. But we like to do it like to do it very fluidly
so there are two of us; and then one of us backs out, and one of us just continues. STACEY>>All right, thank you. There is some concern that if an individual
starts to work and then they find out that they cannot continue due to their disability…what
would happen if that were the case? WINDY>>Larrisa, do you want to take that
one? LARRISA>>Sorry, can you repeat the question? STACEY>>Sure, Larrisa…what would happen
if an individual started to work but then found out that they could not continue because
of their disability? LARRISA>>Well, nothing really happens. If they’re working with DDR or with an employment
network, hopefully they don’t give up and they follow the pattern that Windy just described
about trying something different. Maybe that job did not work out; maybe due
to their disability, they just couldn’t do it. But there could be other work out there for
them. So I would encourage people to keep trying
because you can potentially find something that actually suits you, that will work for
your situation and give you that satisfaction. STACEY>>Thank you, Larrisa. We do have an individual that heard that he
or she would lose his or her benefits right away if they went back to work and don’t believe
that they could actually work full-time. So they want to know if Ticket to Work can
help them. LARRISA>>This is Larrisa. For people who want to go back to work, every
situation is different; and like I said, there are a lot of myths and misinformation out
there. So if somebody told you that you are going
to lose your benefits right away, I would have to say with 98% surety that that’s not
true; but every situation is different. So you would want to go to a WIPA project
and have them do a benefits analysis for you. If you’re not working at this point but you’re
working with an EN or a VR agency, they can also provide benefits counseling. The WIPA project pretty much sticks to doing
benefits counseling for people who are actually working or have a really strong work goal. So if you’re not there yet, you can still
get the help working with an employment network or a VR agency. They can kind of give you information that’s
specific to your situation that will show you what work incentives might be there for
you to use, and they can show you what impact your level of work that you’re looking at…if
it’s not full-time, maybe part-time…what will that do to your benefits. And they can actually give you a pretty accurate
picture. WINDY>>I just want to piggyback on that. This is Windy. If somebody does go to work and your benefits
stop…if you’re on SSDI and your benefits stop due to working, there is a work incentive
called “Expedited Reinstatement.” So that is out there too, and that’s where
talking to a CWIC about it because you have an extended period of time where if something
happens and you have to stop working due to your disability, you could expedite your benefits
back. You wouldn’t have to go through the process
of applying for benefits again. It’s an expedited reinstatement of benefits
instead, so it’s a different applying phase. It’s easier and it’s faster. So there is that benefit out there too. STACEY>>Thank you, Windy. We have another question from a participant,
and they want to know if the Ticket to Work Program can help them with the cost of transportation
to and from work. WINDY>>I do want to talk about that just
for a second. If you’re part of VR, which is also a Ticket
to Work network, they have funding to help with that transportation piece of it if that
is a barrier to your employment. If you’re working with an employment network,
we work with other agencies that – unfortunately ENs don’t – there are some ENs out there
that do provide that; there are some ENs that don’t. So it really depends on the EN that you’re
working with. There are other agencies out there that will
provide transportation costs. So you really, really need to talk to the
EN that you’re thinking about. Ask them if they provide transportation; ask
them if they work with other agencies that provide transportation; ask them if they know
about – just really, really look at the EN before you assign your ticket and figure
out if that’s the right EN for you. STACEY>>Thanks, Windy. So it sounds like if somebody thinks that
they have a barrier, that they should probably talk to an EN to find out if there’s something
that they can get help with before they just decide that it’s not for them…so thank you
for that. All right, we do have another question. That is: “What is the difference between a
WIPA and WIP when it comes to benefits counseling?” LARRISA>>This is Larrisa. WIPA is the Work Incentive Planning & Assistance
project. It’s the agency that will provide benefits
counseling for beneficiaries. A WIP is document that a CWIC might workup
for someone if there are steps. It’s called a “Work Incentive Plan.” So it’s a plan that a benefits counselor will
come up with, with assistance from the beneficiary, of the things that they might need to do. For example, if they’re going to use a work
incentive, well then what are the steps that they need to take. That’s called a WIP or a Work Incentive Plan. STACEY>>Thank you, Larrisa, for clarifying
the difference for us between WIPA and WIP. Although we do have more questions, at this
time we are going to stop here; and we’re going to continue on with the presentation. But before we do that, I just wanted to remind
everyone that this webinar is being archived and that the video, PowerPoints, and the transcript
will be available in the next couple weeks on the Choose Work website, which is at https://choosework.ssa.gov. I would also like to just reiterate that we
do have that Web Links pod that is in the right-hand corner of your screen and that
all of the resources that we’ve been talking about today and the ones that are on your
screen right now…all those can be found right there in that Web Links pod. All that you have to do is click on it; and
then go down to the bottom and hit “Files To,” and it will take you directly to that
Web link. Next, we are going to hear about the phases
of the Path to Work. Any additional questions that we receive,
we will address those at the end of our presentation today. So I’m going to now turn it back over to Windy,
who will share with us the phases of the Path to Work and what is included in each phase
and how to put it all together. Over to you, Windy. WINDY>>Thanks, Stacey. I’m going to talk about the phases of the
Path to Work. The most important one, I think, for me is
the first phase. So the first phase is really learning about
the Ticket to Work Program. I think it’s very important for you to learn
about the EN that you’re planning on applying your ticket to, finding out what’s important
to you, making the right choice for you. It’s all about you, and I really want to reiterate
that that is what it’s all about…your goals, your life, what’s best for you out there. Social Security has created a Path to Work
website to kind of go through these phases. I’m just going to go through the phases and
what’s in each of these phases, but you can find each one of these at the Phases to Work
website; and you can access those on the Web Links over on the side. The first phase is the Ticket to Work discussion
or learning about the Ticket to Work phase. This is some important information for you
to consider when you’re receiving your work benefits. It’s the:
Work Your Way to a Better Future Myths about Work and Medicare and Medicaid
The Medical Review Myth The Myth About Reapplying for Benefits, and
Is Work the Right Choice? The Better Future is learning about the Ticket
to Work Program, how it works, if you qualify and how to assign your ticket. Myths About Work and Medicare and Medicaid
really are about that myth, if you’ve ever heard it…if I try to go to work, will I
automatically lose my Medicare and Medicaid? These are about the work incentives that we
learned about from Larrisa…the Medicaid Buy-in Program, the extended period of Medicare
coverage, Medicare for people with disabilities who are working, and 1619(b). It goes through each of these and kind of
explains them for you; and of course, like Larrisa was talking about earlier, the Medicaid
is specific to your state…so really getting in contact with people that either is a CWIC
or the Medicaid Office to learn more about your state is super important. The Medical Review Myth is, of course, if
I use my ticket to go to work, Social Security will conduct a medical review of my case;
and I will lose my benefits. If you assign your ticket, there is the timely
progress goal set by Social Security. This part goes into those and what they are. It’s important for you to review those, and
they should be going through those when you assign your ticket with an EN. Reapplying for your benefits…the myth is
if my benefits check stops because I started making more money through work, then I have
to stop working because of my disability; and I will have to reapply for my benefits
all over again. Like I said earlier, there is the expedited
reinstatement of benefits, and this explains how you can reapply and a little bit more
on that. The last one….is working the right choice
for me and this talks about, again, only you can decide and make that right choice. The second phase is getting ready to work. This phase helps you determine your own work
goals, and it’s important for you to realize that they are your own work goals. So don’t let anybody else pressure you into
setting your goals. When you set your goals, you’re really asking
yourself what kind of job you would like; what kind of work you like to do; what you’re
enthusiastic about…really what you would be happy with doing. Ask yourself the following questions to learn
more about preparing for a job. Choosing that right service provider… Is an EN right for you? Is VR right for you? Do you want more training? Would VR support your training? What is the right path for you? And then using that Find Help tool, of course,
is going to help you find which one is the right service provider for you. And then if you need help choosing that right
service provider, I would talk to them. Call them up. Find out what services they provide, and are
they going to meet the needs that you need? To learn more about the Phase 2, Getting Ready
to Work, go to http://choosework.ssa.gov/about/your-path-to-work/ready-to-work.html. The third phase is getting a job. This one goes through the different phases
of getting a job; and like we talked about earlier, how easy is it to get a job? This one is learning about the networking… Should you volunteer? Do you have a network online? Is working with an EN and veteran network
appropriate for you? Can a VR place you in a work experience that
could lead to a job? It’s all about that networking and being successful. Brushing up on your work skills…everybody
has soft skills and hard skills that they have, and this goes through those. Your soft skills are your communication skills…whether
you’re early or late or work. Your hard skills, again, are those transferrable
skills…what you’ve learned from a job that you can transfer to another job. Making it an important first impression with
your resume is also a good one. Working with a workforce, working with an
EN, working with a VR…all of those agencies can help you with your résumé and résumé
building. Applying for and finding the right job…it’s
not always about applying for the job but applying for the right job. Sometimes it’s about ruling it out; sometimes
it’s just about finding it and finding the one that’s right for you. Working with an EN and working with accommodations
could also be finding the right jobs. Interview prep tips and tricks…this part
of this phase goes through those interview question tips and tricks. What you need to know about accommodations…should
you advocate for yourself, are you ready to advocate for yourself, do you need to modify
your workspace? This will help you in that. Tips on easing that job interview…once you
ran the job interview, we all could have some things that we need to work on. For example, when answering questions, make
and maintain good eye contact with your interviewer…or, are you wearing the appropriate clothes? This goes through those tips. Leaving a good impression after an interview
is always a good way to go. You can read through these; that will help
you with that. Last, keep motivated while looking for work. Like I said earlier, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes it’s not the first job; sometimes
it’s the fifth one that is your perfect fit. Don’t get discouraged as you’re going through
that. To learn more about Phase 3, Getting a Job,
go to: https://choosework.ssa.gov/about/your-path-to-work/getting-a-job.html. The fourth phase is
Maintaining Your Job. Once you get your job, you want to keep it. Once you find your dream job, it’s worth taking
that time to manage it and keeping that job. So this phase goes through what you can do
to keep that job: Getting started working in the right way…first
day of whether you want to put those accommodations in place; supplies, and clothing you may need;
do you need transportation to and from work; do you need child care; what are those things
you need to work on those first days. How about the first week: asking questions,
learning about your schedule, reflecting on training. This will help you with how do you maintain
your job. What happens to your Social Security benefits
while you’re working? I would work with a CWIC on this and also
report, report, report. You always want to report your Social Security
benefits so that you end up with an overpayment or you don’t end up getting in a situation
where you owe Social Security money. Managing your money is important, and you
can manage your money. You can go to www.mymoney.gov to help with
that, and that’s in this website. Also, you can work with your bank to help
with that. Some job centers, like here in Alaska, have
workshops on managing money. You can work with your local job center to
see if they do that as well. Of course preventing that overpayment situation
is in here as well. This will give you tips and suggestions on
how to prevent overpayment situations. And again…report, report, report. You can always fax, go into Social Security,
use your smartphone to report your SSI or SSDI. Then of course if you have SSI, you can call
(inaudible); and that has all the information on the website. Take time to talk about timely progress. This through this because Social Security
has an important work incentive. When you assign your ticket to a workforce
and EN, you are protected from doing a medical CDR if you’re making timely progress towards
your work goal. Talk to your EN about making timely progress. It’s a really good protection. Then lastly, maintaining services through
Partnership Plus…like we talked about earlier, VR and an employment agency can work together
so that you have a continuum of support and added support throughout your employment. So how do we put it all together? Question No. 1…you have made your decision
to work. It’s the right step for you to gain independence. Who can help you achieve this work? Like we talked about earlier, there are service
providers…such as the State VR agencies, ENs, WIPA projects, and PABSS organizations
that can offer you support with benefits and work intention; job search assistance; résumé
and interview preparation; transition support; and more. Search for a service provider using the Find
Help tool at: https://choosework.ssa.gov/findhelp. You’re now ready to start your path to work. What questions can you ask yourself to find
a job that’s right for you? Some questions that you can ask yourself are:
What type of work do I like to do? What am I enthusiastic about? What kind of job do I want now? What kind of job do I want five years from
now? What are my long-term career goals? Where do I want to work? Learn more about in our recent blog post at: https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-05-31-do-you-know-what-kind-of-job-you-want. And I will turn it back over to Stacey. STACEY>>Thank you. I want to thank Windy for the great information
on how the Ticket to Work can transform lives for those with disabilities by providing work
incentives and also the support services to help transition into the workplace. I’d also like to add that this was just a
very quick overview of the Path to Work. For more information, you can go to the Ticket
to Work website at: https://choosework.ssa.gov. We do have some additional time to address
your questions. If you do have some additional questions for
us, please go ahead and put those in the Q&A pod; and we will get those to the appropriate
speaker to answer for you. All right, so going to the questions that
we have, we have one that asks if there is a time frame for how long I can participate
in the Ticket to Work Program. Is there a time frame for how long one can
participate in this program? Windy, we can start with you; and then we
can move on to see if Larrisa has any comments. WINDY>>There is a time frame, depending on
when your ticket is assigned to when it is unassigned based on your needs; and it varies
between individuals. For example, if you assign your ticket and
then you choose not to work and you unassign your ticket, it’s based on you as an individual;
however, you can assign your ticket from start to finish in five years. So if you were to assign your ticket and you
were to make progress and go to work and maintain everything that you needed to do, you would
successfully unassign your ticket five years after assigning. STACEY>>Thank you. Is there a place where individuals can go
to find more information about choose a service provider? WINDY>>Yeah, absolutely…in the Web Links,
and also we’ve talked about it before, it’s that Find Help tool that you can use. You can use a service provider; and when you
do, you can look up your service providers and you can find out which ones are workforce
ENs, which ones are VRs. It gives you a bit more information about
each one of those. It’s that Find Help tool, and you can then
determine what services they provide. They give you their address; they give you
their phone number. You can call them up and you can ask them,
and I would interview them. STACEY>>Thank you, Windy. Larrisa, you had talked a little bit about
Medicare and Medicaid earlier. Will individuals lose their Medicaid or lose
their Medicare if they participate in the Ticket to Work program? LARRISA>>That’s a great question and a pretty
common one. They will not lose their Medicaid or Medicare
benefits by working with an employment network or assigning their ticket. They get all the same work incentives that
anybody would get…whether they’re participating in a Ticket to Work Program or going it on
their own. So those work incentives are there for everyone,
and they don’t lose it just by assigning their ticket or working with an EN. STACEY>>That’s great to know. So how does one get started with participating
in the Ticket to Work Program? LARRISA>>Windy, I’m going to let you take
that one. WINDY>>The first thing you would do is you
would go to the Find Help tool to find the nearest EN closest to you. Either choose a VR that’s appropriate for
you or choose an EN appropriate for you. Then you would create your goals. When you work with either a VR or an EN, you
have to create a plan, and the plan consists of short-term and long-term goals that you
want to achieve. Within the next year, within the next three
years, what are you going to want to do? First something to think about…what do you
want to accomplish? Where do you want to work? What do you want to do? That was when we were talking about what type
of work do I want to do? What am I enthusiastic about? What can I do short-term? What can I do long-term? That’s kind of the things you want to think
about. And then choosing an employment network, interviewing
the, finding out if they’re appropriate for you, if they offer the services that you think
are best for you. And then assigning your ticket with them and
getting started with building those…what do I need to be able to go to work, and then
finding the job that’s appropriate for you. STACEY>>Thank you, Windy. I just wanted to piggyback on a question that
we just had about choosing a service provider. To get started on your journey, you can contact
the Ticket to Work Help Line. You can call them at 1-866-968-7842; or for
TTY, it would be 1-866-833-2967. You can also visit the Ticket
to Work website, which is at: https://choosework.ssa.gov/. There are also some other ways that you can
connect to us: You can do that by liking us on Facebook at
ChooseWork. You can follow us at Twitter at chooseworkssa. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel at
ChooseWork. You can also follow us on LinkedIn at Ticket-to-Work. There are also many resources that are available
to assist you with your journey into the work world. Some of those include learning about work
plans. You can go to https://choosework.ssa.gov/libraries/faq-planning-your-employment-goals-with-the-ticket-to-work-program. It also could be very helpful to see how others
have found success with the program and see their successes. You can go to https://choosework.ssa.gov/success-stories. There’s also a site that you can go to, to
find tips and resources; and that is: https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog. Or if you just want to learn more about the
overall program…and we really encourage you to do so…you can find that information
on https://choosework.ssa.gov/about/faqs. So lots of resources available to you and,
again, all of these are available on the Web Links pod, which is to the right-hand side
of your screen in the bottom corner. We wanted to thank you all for attending the
WISE webinar today and all your questions. There have been so many great questions that
have come in; we’re just thrilled about all of that. If we’re not able to answer your questions,
you can reach out to the Ticket to Work Help Line Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.
to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Their phone number is 1-866-968-7842; or for
TTY, 1-866-833-2967. Again, you can contact or visit the Ticket
to Work site at https://choosework.ssa.gov/. Please join us for our next WISE webinar,
which will be held on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern
Time. Our topic for this webinar will be Ticket
to Work and Reasonable Accommodations, and we would love to have all of you join us once
again and bring with you all of those great questions. To register online, you can go to www.choosework.net/wise;
or you can call 1-866-968-7842, or for TTY it would be 1-866-833-2967. And I just wanted to go back and correct myself. The date of the next webinar is Wednesday,
July 25, 2018. So it’s on a Wednesday…again, the 25th,
from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. We would love to see you all there again. Your feedback is extremely important to us,
so please provide your feedback and tell us what you think about the webinar by taking
our survey. To take our survey, you can follow the link
that is going to pop up after the webinar, or you can visit the Ticket to Work website
to complete the survey. That is at: www.choosework.ssa.gov/surveys/wise. I would
like to again thank our presenters for taking the time to join us today and sharing their
knowledge with us. I also would like to thank all of our participants
for attending today. Please take the opportunity to reach out to
any of the many different resources that we discussed today and take the next steps in
your career path. Thank you, everyone, and have a great evening.

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