November 23, 2010
EN Report Card
Social Security announced the initiation of the Employment Network Report Card.
When the final Ticket to Work Program regulations were published on December 28, 2001, Social Security stated they would evaluate the performance of Employment Networks (EN), in part, based on the views of the participants who had or are receiving services from an EN. Congress and Social Security felt customer satisfaction would be a driving force behind the success of an EN in the program. If previous and current customers are satisfied with the services received, other beneficiaries would use this information as part of their selection criteria of an EN.
Maximus, one of the Ticket to Work Managers, has been collecting administrative data annually on each Employment Network’s performance (called the Annual Performance and Outcome Report (APOR)). Now, Social Security will begin asking beneficiaries to evaluate their experience with the EN to whom they assigned their ticket. Beneficiaries will have the opportunity to complete the survey either in paper-format or online. Social Security intends to combine the two data sources in the form of an Employment Network Report Card. They will launch the Report Card in California and then nationally. The results of the EN Report Card will be available on the Beneficiary Access and Support Services Web site of a new Ticket to Work Manager (it is not currently available). Social Security also announced the new web site will also include a monitored user comments section where beneficiaries will be able to post comments about their experiences with ENs (social network?).
My comment: I am often asked by beneficiaries to recommend an Employment Network in their area, and must often I can not, because I do not know the quality of their direct services. For too long, people have used national accreditations as an indicator of quality services, but we all know that this is a weak indicator of quality services. Now, people receiving services will have a very significant role in measuring quality of services. I sincerely hope they participate in this opportunity.
Pre-publication Sale of Publications
Each year, at this time, I offer a Pre-publication Sale of the upcoming edition of “THE GUIDE: Social Security Benefits and Work Incentives.” The 2011 version will be the 19th Edition of this popular reference manual. The 2011 version will have more examples of the application of work incentives and the implementation of new rules and projects which effect a working beneficiary.
The Pre-publication Sale will last until December 31st. Shipment of orders placed now will begin on December 26th. During this sale the normal price is reduced 1/3, and greater if multiple copies are ordered. Go to the publication section to order..
While They Last.
I am clearing inventory of the 2010 editions of “THE GUIDE”, the “Managing Your SSI Benefit and Income” handbook, and the “Managing Your SSDI benefit and Income” handbook. A set of books (one each) is now available for $30 plus $5 shipping. (Regular price $92.00 per set) This offer is not available at the website, call 610-696-1551 to order. Payment only by credit card. This offer ends when the inventory is gone.
2011 Medicare Rates
On November 4th, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released the Medicare rate changes for 2011.
Part A: (Hospital Insurance) Premium
Part B: (Medical Insurance) Premium
This last change applies to anyone who becomes entitled to Medicare during 2011.
Medicare Deductible and Coinsurance Amounts for 2011:
Part A: (pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care)
For each benefit period Medicare pays all covered costs except the Medicare Part A deductible (2011 = $1,132) during the first 60 days and coinsurance amounts for hospital stays that last beyond 60 days and no more than 150 days.
For each benefit period you pay:
Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance
$141.50 per day for days 21 through 100 each benefit period.
Part B: (covers Medicare eligible physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home
health services, durable medical equipment)
Thank you, South Dakota
October completed my ninth year of doing workshops for the State of South Dakota. I would like to thank the staff of the Freedom to Work Project (FTW) for their attention to details in coordinating over 15 workshops conducted throughout South Dakota in April, August, and October. THANK YOU to Shelly Phaif, FTW Consumer Involvement Coordinator, Brooke Lusk, FTW Program Manager, Dan Rounds, FTW Training Coordinator, Colette Wagoner, FTW Program Specialist, and Faith Ellis, Administrative Assistant.
Over 2,000 residents of South Dakota have taken part in the workshops and individually benefitted from the use of the information they have acquired. I take personal pleasure in watching empowerment happen, when a person asks a question in the workshop and another audience member answers the question. I have watched people schedule meetings with benefit counselors for personal counseling and I have listened to the successes of people who have properly used the work incentives in their effort to be self-sufficient.
Initially, these workshops were sponsored by the Division of Rehabilitation Services ( Thank you, Grady Kickul, Division Director and Bernie Grimme for bring me into South Dakota) and then funding shifted to the South Dakota Freedom to Work Project in 2004. The Freedom to Work Project is funded, in part, by a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. See what else they are doing at their website:
See you in the Spring!
During the past year, Social Security has expanded the list of medical conditions which can qualify for Compassionate Allowance (known as CAL) and they continue to hold hearings on additional medical conditions which may be added to the list. This is part of Social Security’s effort to reduce the time it takes to process an application. This month two hearings have been held for 1) cardiovascular disease and multiple organ transplants, and 2) schizophrenia, to consider adding these conditions to the list.
The goal of the Compassionate Allowance process is to make a decision, within 20 days of receipt of the application, whether the applicant is disabled or not disabled. Cases are put into this category based primarily on information provided by the applicant on the SSA-3368 Disability Report. In other words, the computer system looks for the medical condition or appropriate abbreviation.
The applicant is not told their case is identified for the CAL process. But the disability examiner may ask the applicant to assist in obtaining necessary medical evidence to expedite the process. If asked, the examiner can reveal the case is in CAL status.
DI 23022.080 List of Compassionate Allowance (CAL) Conditions
The following is the list of CAL conditions. To get to the impairment summary, go the POMS reference in “Section Number.”
Questions I’ve Received
Addressing real-life questions and issues is an excellent way to learn new information about benefit programs. And, you may find a solution to a problem you are dealing with.
I have a client who is considering marriage. She
receives SSDI along with Medicaid from the Aquired/Traumatic Brain injury
waiver. Her fiancé is also receiving SSDI and is residing in a Residential
Care home. Both are conserved financially.
Answer: No, if both people are receiving benefits from their own work record, the amounts will not change upon marriage. This would also apply, if one or both are drawing Childhood Disability Benefits from their respective parent’s insured status. I would recommend you talk with the waiver program administrator to determine if the future spouse’s income (SSDI) will effect eligibility for the waiver program.
Question: I have several questions about Tim’s situation, (I’m) faxing a copy of the calendar work sheet I’ve been operating from, the 18-month look back period, as well as a recent letter from SSA about wages and questions about eligibility. I just received a BPQY dated today and his Trial Work months are still listed as zero. His SSDI benefit is $1912 and his next medical review was 9/10.
Tim’s disability started March 2009 and his Ticket was assigned 9/24/2009 to this Employment Network (EN). He worked from April to October 2009 earning up to $2800 during those months then started a high paying job in April 2010. Using the calendar sheet I counted out the 9 Trial Work months ending May 2010 followed by cessation, grace and grace (ending August 2010). I advised him in September he may have to turn the September check back to SSA. On 10/4/2010, I submitted his wage records for July thru October 2009 and April thru August 2010 to SSA as requested by the local SSA office. Trying to get this guy to submit his wage records to me in a timely manner has been a challenge.
On 10/22/2010, I talked with a Maximus representative (Ticket to Work Manager) who indicated the EN would not be eligible for any phase 1 milestone payments but we would be eligible for some phase 2 payments (October 2009 and April thru August 2010). We have submitted the request for phase 2 payments.
Did I misguide this guy or does this situation all look okay? I wonder if this SSA alert all came about because of the high wages he earned for sales and commission.
Answer: Yes, the SSA alert came because of the high wages. The Benefit Planning Query (BPQY) probably was not complete because this case is now in a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). A BPQY is ususally updated after the work portion of the CDR is completed.
The main problem is Tim went to work shortly after being found disabled by Social Security. He was awarded the benefit on a presumption his medical condition would not permit him to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for twelve months. In 2009, SGA was $980 or more of countable earned income, and in 2010, SGA is $1,000 or more of countable earned income. It is obvious from the reported wages (I reviewed each month), he was over SGA in 2009 and 2010. If he can not reduce the countable earned income below SGA by claiming Impairment-related Work Expenses or documenting the value of Special Work Conditions (Subsidies), Social Security will find that he was never disabled. He will be found in overpayment for all of the cash payments received since March 2009.
If the EN receives the Phase II milestone payment, this payment will have to be returned to Social Security.
Question: I have a question for you. I have a client who works 30 hours a week and just received a Disability Information letter from SS outlining her Trial work months. From what I understand, the letter is saying that she is meeting these 9 months soon. She has assigned her ticket to us, does this conflict with that? Thank you so much for your help!
Answer: Completion of the Trial Work Period is part the process of title II benefits a beneficiary must complete before moving into the Reentitlement Period of the Extended Period of Eligibility. Assignment of the ticket does not inhibit the completion of the Trial Work Period. Assignment of the ticket only inhibits Social Security from conducting a Medical Review of the case, unless the Medical Review was scheduled prior to assigning the ticket. When someone completes their Trial Work Period, Social Security may conduct a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) of the case and a medical review is typically part of the CDR. Since this medical review was not previously scheduled, Social Security is not permitted to do the medical review portion of the CDR.
The specific location for each workshop is posted at my web site. Registration can also be completed at the site. Go to WORKSHOPS
Nov. 29, 2010 Manchester, NH Benefits and Employment in 2011
Nov. 30, 2010 Portland, ME Benefits and Employment in 2011
Dec. 1, 2010 Lexington, MA Benefits and Employment in 2011
Dec. 2, 2010 Worcester MA Benefits and Employment in 2011
Dec. 6, 2010 Farmington, CT Benefits and Employment in 2011
Dec. 7, 2010 New Haven, CT Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 12, 2011 Jacksonville, FL Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 13, 2011 Jacksonville, FL Medicare and Medicaid for Individuals with Disability
Jan. 18, 2011 Fort Myers, FL Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 19, 2011 Fort Myers, FL Medicare and Medicaid for Individuals with Disability
Jan. 20, 2011 Fort Lauderdale, FL Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 21, 2011 Fort Lauderdale, FL Medicare and Medicaid for Individuals with Disability
Jan. 24, 2011 Brandon, FL Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 25, 2011 Brandon, FL Medicare and Medicaid for Individuals with Disability
Jan. 26, 2011 Tallahassee, FL Benefits and Employment in 2011
Jan. 27, 2011 Tallahassee, FL Medicare and Medicaid for Individuals with Disability
March Oregon and Washington
Would You Like to Host a Workshop?
By serving as the host organization for a workshop, the organization has ten free seats at the workshop. This certainly reduces staff training costs, particularly when your program is on a tight budget.
We ask the host organization to provide meeting space, for approximately 40 people in a classroom setting. The host organization is responsible for providing light refreshments (coffee, soda, snack foods). We also ask the host organization to distribute an advertisement of the workshop to local contacts, as they have a better mailing list of contacts in the local area. Benefits Training and Consulting provides the training materials and audio-visual equipment.
The host organization’s distribution of the advertisement is an important role in suburban and rural areas. This usually assures a minimum registration of people to conduct the workshop. We supply the master copy of the ad for your distribution to local contacts.
Host organizations have used a variety of free meeting space when their own facility was inadequate to accommodate the workshop. The meeting site must be accessible to individuals with disability.
We maintain a list of interested organizations and contact them approximately 3 months prior to the week I will be in their area. Contact me if you would like to host a workshop during 2011. You can reach me by phone: (610) 696-1551, fax (610) 932-0428, or by e-mail:
We are now planning for Spring and Summer of 2011