Benefits Advisement Services - PRO-15-05

The following memo is issued as an addendum to ACCES-VR 210.00 Serving Individuals who are SSI and/or SSDI Participants Policy and clarifies utilization of Benefits advisement services during the VR process.

Benefits advisement services are provided to help an individual manage benefits and/or understand and utilize work incentives. These services provide reliable information on the impact of earned income on cash benefits and entitlement programs that the individual may depend on for overall income.

Many ACCES-VR participants receive or are eligible for a range of programs including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid, and Medicare, Medicaid-Buy-In, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE), private insurance coverage, food stamps, PASS plans, public assistance benefits (i.e., Family Assistance or Safety Net benefits), student loans, financial aid (e.g., TAP and PELL grants), and federal and state tax provisions that reduce tax liability. These programs have criteria for initial or continued coverage; many are based on financial need and have specific rules governing how work and wages affect eligibility or benefit amounts.

The objective of Benefits advisement services is to: educate participants regarding their benefits and to explain the work incentives that are available to them as they participate in education, training, and employment. Understanding how benefits are impacted by earnings is an important step in making an informed decision about work.

Work Incentives include rules that make it possible for individuals to work while receiving SSI and/or SSDI. With work incentives, essential financial and health care supports can stay in place or resume quickly when needed, even though the individual may have earnings from work.

Policy

  • All ACCES-VR participants who are SSI/SSDI beneficiaries will be offered benefitadvisement services during the vocational rehabilitation process.
  • It remains the individual’s choice to participate in Benefits advisement serviceswhich must be documented in the record of services.
  • Benefits advisement services may be provided at any time during the VR processand should be offered early in the VR process.
  • Benefits advisement services must be included on the IPE.
    • Services may be purchased from a CRS vendor as 175X Benefits Advisement, or
    • as 177X Benefits Advisement- no cost at zero cost when provided by a WIPA or other designated provider.
  • Benefits advisement services are anticipated to require multiple sessions with the provider.

Procedure

  • Benefits information may be provided during group orientation by a WIPA.
  • Application (Status 02) through Plan Development (Status 10) Benefits advisement services may be purchased from a CRS vendor using 175X and authorized on a Non-IPE.
  • After Plan Completion (Status 12) Benefits advisement services must be included on the IPE and purchased from a CRS provider using 175X.
  • Once Job Ready (Status 20) Benefits advisement should be provided as a comparable benefit by a WIPA, if available.
    • As a comparable benefit, authorize using 177X Benefits Advisement- no cost with a zero cost. (Must be an approved vendor.)
    • If a WIPA is not available, services may be purchased from a CRS vendor; authorize 175X Benefits Advisement
  • The deliverable for Benefits Advisement is the completed VR-175 form. You may also request the provider obtain a SSA- Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) report which provides information about the beneficiary’s disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled continuing disability reviews, representative payee, and work history.
  • When job ready, participants who require Benefits advisement services should be referred to WIPA if the service is available; if not available a CRS vendor may be used.

Comparable Benefits and Services

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) are organizations within the community that are authorized by Social Security Administration to provide free benefits counseling to Social Security disability recipients. Although authorized to serve all recipients with disabilities, their service priority is to those individuals in employment or who are seeking employment. Therefore, WIPA is not considered a comparable benefit for those individuals who are not job ready, (Status 02-18).

Deliverables and Payment Process

This service is reimbursed upon receipt of a voucher accompanied by a Benefit Advisement checklist (form VR-175) available to providers at ACCES-VR’s web page. A unit of service is defined as one (1) hour and authorizations may be up to 10 hours.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately

REFERENCE:

210.00 Serving Individuals who are SSDI/SSI Participants Policy and Procedure
POL 11-01 Serving Individuals who are SSDI/SSI Participants Policy and Social
Security Ticket to Work Procedure
Ticket to Work Fact Sheet
206.00 Individualized Plan for Employment Policy and Procedure
PRO-08-01 Ticket to Work Rule Change

RESOURCES:

Social Security Administration 2014 Red Book
Neighborhood Legal Services Inc. At-a-Glance
Ticket to Work Fact Sheet
Locate a WIPA closest to you
“Conducting Outreach to Transition-Aged Youth: Strategies for Reaching Out to Youth with Disabilities, Their Families, and Agencies that Serve Them.” Policy & Practice Brief produced by Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Employment and Disability Institute  

INQUIRIES: Questions concerning this memorandum should be addressed to District Office Administration at 518-473-1626

Date Issued: May 7, 2015