I have seen some individuals with a disability look at me like a deer in a headlight when speaking to them about the possibillity of returning to work. Some are petrified at the thought that they may lose their only source of income; Social Security Benefits. Some even question if I am attempting to lead them into the dark underworld of crime. After all, Social Security Administration’s definition of disability is “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” BUT, it is Social Security that is now encouraging them to go back to work. Needless to say, this is cause for a bit of confusion. Here is some good information for you or anyone you know that is receiving social security benefits and is thinking that employment is not an option.
The Two Big Questions
Two big questions commonly asked are: “How long will I get to keep my benefits after I start working?” and “What if I go back to work and the job is too hard for me and I can’t work anymore?”
First of all, how long a person gets to keep their benefits after returning to work depends on the type of funds they are receiving whether it is Social Security Supplemental Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance. Two important things to highlight:
- You can continue to receive cash benefits and Medicare or Medicaid for a time while you work. You can also receive help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.
- Second and most importantly, if you cannot continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again and you may not even have to file a new application.
As Disability Navigator, I rely on our experts to help beneficiaries make informed decisions about getting a job or re-entering employment. The local experts are the Social Security Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC’s.) These people meet individually with beneficiaries to discuss how working can affect their benefits. Houston Center for Independent Living manages that contract in our region. I rely a lot on the CWIC’s. They are an essential part of any beneficiaries’ first step in job searching. Especially when beneficiaries are confused about the different messages or stories shared with them by other beneficiaries. They can make wise decisions once they are informed about working and avoid overpayment. For additional information on going back to work while disabled, you can contact Houston Independent Living, Community Work Incentive Coordinators at 713-974-4621 or visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.In addition, as we covered in the October 25, 2010 blog, the Ticket to Work Program (TTW), is a program that can also help beneficiaries return to work. As you may remember, it not only provides assistance to Employment Networks, but it serves as work incentive for the social security beneficiaries, increasing self reliance and independence. For further information on TTW, please, read my earlier blog.
So, before you run from the idea of employment and social security benefits like a scared rabbit, speak with the Houston Center for Independent Living and look into the Ticket to Work Program and you can sleep as peacefully as a bear in her den.
Claudia Magallan is the Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions Workforce Solutions- Gulf Coast ensuring that customers with disabilities utilize all the services offered by Workforce Solutions. She has over six years of experience building relationships in the Houston Community and working with job seekers with barriers to employment.
Experts to the Rescue