Planning for care. For life.

The Value of Work, and Preserving Benefits

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For individuals with special needs, the transition to adulthood can be especially daunting because of vocational challenges and management of essential disability benefits.

Upon completion of their child’s schooling – the million-dollar question that many parents of special needs children ask is:

 “What is my child going to do all day as an adult?”

Work has value that far outreaches the hourly wage. Work provides each of us an opportunity to feel productive and to have social interaction with other individuals within our community. The right job can add significantly to an individual’s overall quality of life.

For individuals that are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) there is often an erroneous assumption that the individual is “not allowed” to work and still receive benefits.

Take the case of David:

David is a 35-year-old man who has had a developmental disability since birth. Following the completion of his public-school education, David was employed by a local grocery store. Recently, his parents received a notification from Social Security that David is no longer eligible for Social Security benefits because he is working. David’s Social Security benefits are essential to his ability to live in his own supported apartment because his wages are not sufficient to meet his housing needs. It is important to note that David was also receiving Developmental Disability support services through his county to enable him to live independently.

David’s parents were told by several social workers and their local Social Security office that David should quit his job in order to preserve his benefits. His parents did not feel that this was a good option; David really enjoyed his job, it gave him purpose and somewhere to go every day where he was productive, and allowed him to have excellent socialization with other adults in his community.

David’s parents were referred to National Care Advisors by their estate planning attorney to determine if there were any other options to preserve David’s benefits and his job.

National Care Advisors consulted the Social Security Administration Redbook and realized that David required and was receiving supportive services that enabled him to not only live independently, but also to be successful at his job at the grocery store. The Social Security Administration has several special considerations for individuals with disabilities to enable them to continue to work without jeopardizing essential benefits. The SSA Redbook outlines the specific documentation required to preserve Social Security benefits.

In David’s case, the NCA case manager consulted with the local case manager that was managing David’s community support services and was able to document the cost of the services that were required in order for him to sustain his employment and to live independently. In addition, his parents were also providing significant oversight and supervision for David. David also required assistance with transportation, organization, and finances.  The value/cost of these services offset David’s wages to the point that his income met eligibility guidelines for benefits.

In addition, David’s paystubs from the past 12 months were obtained for proof of income, along with his bank statements.

The NCA case manager accompanied David and his father to the local Social Security office to discuss the situation, with the Social Security Redbook and the compiled documentation in hand. The front-line caseworker at Social Security was not familiar with the Redbook and a supervisor was called to the counter. After some significant discussion, the supervisor provided the required form so that David could submit the necessary documentation for reconsideration of his Social Security benefits eligibility.

The form was completed and the necessary documentation was submitted to Social Security for review. It is important to note that a formal appeal was not necessary.

Three months later – David and his parents received a letter stating that his Social Security benefits were re-instated and he received back payments from the date that they were previously denied. The letter also stated the amount of income that David could make and remain eligible for his benefits.

The NCA case manager worked with David and his parents to make sure that his work hours and resulting income did not exceed the eligibility guideline. David’s parents assumed responsibility for submitting his paystubs to Social Security on a regular basis as required.

While David was able to work, it was necessary to decrease his overall hours to maintain eligibility. To fill that new found free time with rewarding activities, the NCA case manager coordinated volunteer opportunities for David with his county social worker.

The outcome was a win-win. David preserved his benefits and a job that he greatly enjoyed. He also was able to experience some additional community activities through his volunteer work. David’s parents have solid information to base their financial plan for David’s future relative to ability to support his housing costs through his Social Security benefits and work income.

Navigating the rules and regulations regarding public benefits can be complex and confusing. Information can be hard to find and incomplete, but there are often creative solutions that provide maximized benefits while maintaining a high quality of life. National Care Advisors works with clients every day to help achieve this outcome. Call us today to help solve your complex benefits challenges!