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Video: What you need to know about Social Security

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Overview of Social Security benefits

This video provides a brief, thorough overview of Social Security benefits.

Susan Harrell (00:10):
[ ♪ Music ♪].

Susan Harrell (00:12):
This is Susan Harrell from the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment. Social Security and Medical Benefits and Work Incentives: Social Security provides cash benefits to individuals with disabilities. These benefits give individuals income, which allows them to learn personal responsibility, and can provide them with the resources to pay for housing, food, and other items. This is a great, concrete way for individuals to learn about money and budgeting. Getting on cash benefits can also provide you with medical benefits. Medical benefits allow people to access needed medical services and medical equipment. In addition, Medicaid, one of the medical benefits programs, can provide individuals with funding for residential and vocational services, as well as personal care services. In order to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, an individual must have a disability that meets Social Security’s definition of disability, which is defined for people over the age of 18, as the inability to engage in any Substantial Gainful Activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which may 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.

Susan Harrell (01:42):
A person who’s capable of, or who is earning more than a certain monthly amount, is usually considered to be engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability. There is a higher SGA level for individuals who are statutorily blind than for others. Both SGA amounts generally change each year to see what the current SGA amount is. Please check out this document in the document library.

Susan Harrell (02:24):
The best time to apply for most people is after they’ve reached the age of 18. To file for benefits, you will need to contact Social Security for an application and for additional information. You can call +1 800-772-1213 or visit their website or contact a local Social Security office. You will need to fill out an application form, which includes information detailing the disability, how it affects your life, and how it affects your ability to work at a Substantial Gainful Activity level. Once you submit the application, Social Security checks to verify age, employment history, income, marital status, Social Security coverage. They send the file to the Washington State Disability Determination Services then. The office is also known as DDDS. This office is contracted by Social Security to determine if the individual qualifies for disability benefits by meeting Social Security’s definition of disability. The people at DDDS, they don’t know you.

Susan Harrell (03:36):

They may never meet you. And in order for them to determine your eligibility, they will read through the information that you provide. They’ll contact medical professionals for information as needed, and they may ask for an independent medical examination. It is extremely important to provide lots of information that verifies your disability or tells your story, which may include pictures, if a picture may show the disability, descriptive statements from family, friends, providers, school staff, or others, which describes the effect that your disability has on living and working in the community, and the kinds of supports that you need to be involved in community activities. An overview or a day in the life of where you, your parents, or others tell the story of what supports you need to get through a day in your life can be helpful. It is really preferable to speak about what supports you need on the worst day, as that is the level of support that you need to have available.

Susan Harrell (04:39):
Use the new place outlook to guide the information sharing, where you imagine being in an unfamiliar place without any help. What would be an issue for you? Would you be able to get up by yourself, dress yourself, prepare food for yourself, obtain transportation to necessary places and purchase what you need? The work that you do ahead of time in pulling together this paperwork will help smooth the way for an approval. Be sure to collect information from a variety of resources, including your medical professionals. It may be difficult for the Disability Determination staff to get these records from your doctor or from your school, from your counselor or your case manager. If they can’t get the information, they may not be able to approve your application. So it is best to get the information yourself and provide it to them.

Susan Harrell (05:33):
Once you’re on benefits, it is important to go ahead and get additional information about how the benefits may be affected by other income, resources, or your living situation. Remember receiving benefits can be helpful, but work is really essential if you ever want to have more money. You can work and retain needed benefits. Did you know that students receiving Supplemental Security or SSI payments from Social Security have a Work Incentive called the Student Earned Income Exclusion, which allows them to have thousands of dollars of income from employment each year, and this income is not counted against the SSI benefits? This Work Incentive can put thousands of extra dollars in your pocket each year that you work when you are in school clear up to the age of 22.

Susan Harrell (06:29):
There are many other Work Incentives that are available for cash and medical benefits, as well as for public housing and other benefits. Work Incentives encourage an individual’s work efforts by reducing the impact that work or work-related expenses or resources may have on the amount of cash or other benefits received. And by offering ways to help pay for needed services or equipment that is necessary for work. You can contact a benefits planner or a community Work Incentive Coordinator for more information about your specific benefits. Benefits planning allows people with disabilities to access knowledgeable resources to address questions about benefits and Work Incentive supports and services. This reduces fear and misunderstanding and helps people achieve the employment outcomes that improve the quality of their life so that they can have better financial stability. This also prevents crisis situations that can result when change occurs. For instance, a new job or a raise. And it reduces the possibility of unexpected loss of healthcare or cash benefits. This improves employment and economic outcomes. A study of Vermont’s Benefits Counseling System showed the individuals who utilize benefits, planning services, experienced, increased employment, increased earnings, and decreased medical expenses.

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