March 22, 2009

GETTING STARTED, PART 1

Learn the basics of benefits programs, help people make informed decisions about their financial futures

—by Matthew K. Weiland and Paul M. Kubek

Employment specialists, case managers, and other mental-health and vocational-service providers who are not full-time benefits counselors do not need to be experts in benefits planning to help each person they serve begin to make informed decisions about his or her financial situation. A basic knowledge of Social Security's SSI and SSDI programs, Medicaid, Medicare, and other benefits programs like housing subsides and work incentives will help with the following:

  • Avoid benefits crises
  • Encourage and support employment in a regular job (part time or full time)
  • Increase earned income without jeopardizing benefits
  • Increase financial independence
  • Minimize and manage anxieties that can halt the momentum of recovery

THE CONVERSATION

This is one installment in a collection of stories from conversations with Steve Shober, BS, LSW, about the importance of benefits planning. Steve is a former vocational specialist, job coach, and benefits counselor who works as a consultant and trainer at the Ohio Supported Employment Coordinating Center of Excellence (SE CCOE), an initiative of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University.


1.) Report Income Every Month, Part 1 (1m, 4s)
Here's one easy step to avoid the miscalculation of benefits: report earned income and cash benefits (non-earned income) every month to the Social Security Administration (provider of SSI and SSDI).
Download this audio file (right-click and 'Save As')

2.) Report Income Every Month, Part 2 (2m, 1s)
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It could have taken 10 minutes each month to prevent an overpayment of cash benefits from Social Security to this consumer; instead, it took Steve over 80 work-hours to fix. Listen to this real-life problem and solution.
Download this audio file (right-click and 'Save As')

3.) Help People Make Informed Decisions (2m, 6s)
The goal of benefits planning is not to help people keep their benefits over time. Rather, the goal is to give people the information they need to make informed decisions about their financial lives, to avoid surprises, and to pursue their hopes and dreams.
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4.) The Food-Court Story (abridged) (2m, 13s)
This woman took a chance and got a job that she liked. She received a letter from Social Security that frightened her, and she quit. It's a story that got Steve started in the field of benefits planning. He admits that it's a situation that could have been avoided.
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5.) Sign Off (0m, 44s)
A production of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University—a partnership of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case and the Department of Psychiatry at the Case School of Medicine.
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BENEFITS PLANNING SERIES

Get a list of all Benefits Planning eConsults (click here).


Matthew K. Weiland, MA, is senior writer and producer and Paul M. Kubek, MA, is director of communications at the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University—a partnership of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case and the Department of Psychiatry at the Case School of Medicine.
 

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