March 18, 2009

A CAUTIONARY TALE

Overpayments by benefits programs and mandatory paybacks can be avoided with monthly reports of income by consumers

—by Matthew K. Weiland and Paul M. Kubek

Here's a situation you want to avoid. You're working with a person who has been receiving cash benefits (non-earned income) for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). He gets a job and stops coming into the mental-health agency for a few years. One day, he shows up with a letter from SSA informing him that he is required to pay back some benefits—$27,000 worth.

Steve Shober, BS, LSW, recounts this story from his experience as a vocational specialist and job coach in hopes that other service providers might help consumers avoid such a shocking situation. This is a cautionary tale of non-reporting, a parable of sorts. Here are the take-home tips:

  • People who receive cash benefits from Social Security programs (e.g., SSI, SSDI) are required to report earned-income from their paychecks to Social Security.
  • Not reporting income to Social Security can create some of the most panicked moments in a consumer's recovery and exacerbate symptoms.
  • Encourage consumers to report their income from jobs every month, so it becomes a regular routine. This will prevent the overpayment of benefits by Social Security to consumers and, thus, mandatory paybacks.
  • Remind consumers regularly to submit their reports.

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.) A Cautionary Tale of Non-Reporting (3m, 43s)
This man had to pay back $27,000 of cash benefits to Social Security but did not have the money to do so. It's a story that has a resolution, but it's a situation that can and should be avoided. A waiver helped resolved this situation but not without a series of denials and appeals.
Download this audio file (right-click and 'Save As')


2.) 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.
Download this audio file (right-click and 'Save As')

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.