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Trending Topics announcement - SSI

Transition

Greetings !

I would like to introduce the next host in Trending Topics engaging us in discussion around SSI.


Marlene Swarts is the regional representative for Region 10 (Northwestern region). Prior to joining HKNC, she worked for 20 years at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services , Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) as a rehabilitation counselor for the deaf , which includes hard of hearing and deaf-blind. Marlene also has experience as a deaf-blind specialist providing 1:1 services to individuals seeking employment , advancement and maintaining current employment status. One of her strengths is working with individuals have additional disabilities and require long term supports. Marlene has a MA in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University. Marlene's philosophy is everyone has a right to make their own life decisions regardless of the degree of their disability. She views her role as assisting individuals/families/providers with gathering information in order for them to make an informed choice.

I look forward to this opportunity to tap into this very valuable resource!

mike






Mike Fagbemi

Posted Jun 15, 2018 by Mike Fagbemi

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Comments (18)

Hi Mike, yes there are.
Work Incentive Liaison (WIL) An employee in each of our local Social Security offices serves as a WIL to provide advice and information about our work incentive provisions and employee support programs to individuals with disabilities and outside organizations that serve those with disabilities . You can call toll free at 1-800-772-1213, from 7 a .m . to 7 p .m ., Monday through Friday . or can go to their office. can find their local office by using Social Security Office Locator on their website, at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator .
There is also Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects , who receive grants from SS. To find their local provider they can call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) . or on the website at: www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp . There are also free internet-based webinars and they can register at the website at www.chooseworkttw.net or by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-YOURTICKET (1-866-968-7842) or for TTY call 1-866-833-2967 Monday through Friday from 8 a .m . - 8 p .m . EST . Archived versions of past events are also available .

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Thanks Marlene for sharing all of this valuable information. I have heard that benefits counseling is not necessarily a free service if the person is not currently receiving SSI benefits. If a family is not working with DVR but would like benefits counseling do you know of resources that families can tap into to obtain these services?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Mike Fagbemi

I did a typo error in my last sentence. They don't provide information "on" but "to". Meaning they ,VR, are required to proved how one can appeal decisions made by VR to the customers and/or their guardian. This information is to be proved throughout the VR process.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

The state VR system deals with different levels of laws/policy and best practices. VR is guided by federal law, state laws and then policies/best practices. There is some basic information I can share. A VR counselor cannot automatically make a determination that someone cannot work. They have to gather information to justify this decision. How they gather this information can vary they may do TWE , Trial Work Experience which is done prior to eligibility or a CBA, Community-Based Assessment, which is done after eligibility. To qualify for VR services one has to have a disability, have barrier to employment because of the disability and they can benefit from services. The one that is more difficult to figure out is the benefit from services. They have to demonstrate that the individual cannot obtain employment regardless of what services they provide. Each state also has a complaint system they must provide information on each customer and/or their family/guardian.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Sheri. I don’t know New York’s VR system as I am in region 10. That said I’m going to reach out a few of my coworkers for assistance. Your Region Representative can attend your VR meeting in person or by phone. Having a Comm Hab Staff with her at all times I do not see how that would exclude her from employment. It is a reasonable accommodation. There might be some situations where it may not be “reasonable” but those types of situations should not be explored/included in the job search.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Mike, Addressing the recidivism issue. The best method is prevention. The individual long-term support the agency/individual providing this long-term support should catch issues that are developing and address them. As a parent having ongoing discussions with the individual about how their job is going and/or asking how their day went and identifying anything you think might be developed into an issue. There are times when VR is brought into the picture in order to retain employment. That said one cannot plan for all things that can take place that causes someone to lose their employment. It takes a lot of work to obtain employment and no one likes to see someone lose their employment. If someone is identified as needing long-term support in order to maintain employment VR is required to identify what the long-term support is. When I was a vocational counselor I address this issue as a learning tool versus a failure. If the issue was that the job was not a fit for the individual my recommendation of next steps, applying for VR if they are closed and VR should, collect information from the individual about what they think happened, anybody else involved such as the CRP etc. and then communicating with the employer to gather inflammation. Sometimes communicating with the employer can be a little tricky as employers worry about being sued for discrimination etc. But if you approach you are asking for the information as you need it to assist the person in obtaining appropriate employment they often will be comfortable with sharing.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Mike. My experience in the 20 years I worked in VR was that by obtaining employment the individual would have more funds available to them. Social Security has several work incentives to promote individual trying and/or obtaining employment. They are Blind Work Expenses, Impairment Related Work Expenses, Plan to Achieve Self-Support, Student Earned Income Exclusion, Subsidies/Special Conditions, Unincurred business expenses and if an individual earns enough money to no longer qualify for a cash benefit and are under their state income limit they qualify for continuation of Medicaid. Another work incentive that provides relief for some individuals is Expedited Reinstatement (also known as easy back on as this benefit enables someone to go back on Social Security up to five years after their benefits stopped, basically they can start to get their check for up to six months while they evaluate if you still qualify. This is instead of waiting to start receiving your benefit while they evaluate you. ) That said what needs to be looked at is all benefits the individual receives. Such as housing, care services etc. and their rules/regulations. They can have work incentives too.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Marlene. Thank you for all the information you are providing. If we were to apply for part time employment through VR but my daughter requires long term supports, ie - having her Comm Hab Staff person with her at all times, is she still eligible for VR? It wouldn't be called Supported Employment so would we go in asking for Carved employment or Customized Employment? Would they know what I was talking about? ;) Her comm hab person is not allowed to be a "job coach" but I assume we could say she is there for behavioral supports and for her deaf-blindness.

Sheri Stanger

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Sheri Stanger

Hi everyone, Marlene there are some families who are concerned about their child losing benefits if they were successful in finding a job. The reality for many is not only unemployment but also underemployment. The other reality is recidivism. Jobs that are developed often fall apart for various reasons. I know there is no perfect fix but what would you advise a family who is worried about this?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Mike Fagbemi

Sheri,
From what all you at listing with her experience and the resource you have I would apply for VR for a part time job. You have done a great job with finding and setting up opportunities that should all lead to employment.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

I do want to mention the Social Security incentives that enable individuals to keep more of their Social Security money. One example, if we use the front desk receptionist as an example again, let's say it is determined that 20% of the job is answering the phone. Because of the person's hearing loss they are unable to perform this part of the job. The employer decides to hire them and assign answering the phone to a different staff. But they are paying them full wages. Social Security then would not count 20% of their wages. There is paperwork and approval to receive the subsidy.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Debra,
For Carved it can also be defined as Job creation .
Essentially it is modifying an existing job or even taking parts of that job to create a job that fits with the individual with a disability skills and strengths. An example; a front desk receptionist. Suppose their job task involve greeting people entering the business, answering the phone, dictating letters, copying, managing the waiting area which could include watering the plants/keeping the magazines in order, and keeping the tea/coffee stocked and clean. A job developer would go in and work with the employer to show that they had an individual that could do the copying and managing the waiting area. This frees up the front receptionist to do other tasks.

Supportive employment is when people with disabilities receive services to get, learn and maintain employment. Once employed if your daughter has long term funding then the ongoing support for her to maintain her employment then changes from the VR system to the system that funds long term support.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Hi Marlene,

What is "carved/supported" employment?

Debra

Debra Pickens

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Debra Pickens

Hi Marlene. Thank you for your reply and suggestions. I'm familiar with the Immersion Program and it's possible it could work for her. One issue we have is a severe food allergy so living away from home requires some safety issues when it comes to food. It also impacts a potential job as she cannot work with food or cleaning. I don't want her to anyway. We've done lots of person centered planning with her, she has a beautiful resume and work experience from her 5 years attending Perkins School for the Blind, Deaf-Blind Program and currently has a volunteer job that she really likes but the work is cyclical. They have many mailings and sometimes projects for their religious school that she puts together. She's very good at the job and her Community Habilitation person goes with her for support. Her other job is new with our Historical Society but it is research work and then a write up for their next museum display on one topic. But this job she is doing from home with her college mentor (she does a special college program but they come to us due to the potential for behavior issues on site). We do Self Directed Services in NY State and she receives a budget, we self hire staff and I build her day based on her needs and interests. Managing the budget and her days is a job in and of itself and I was hoping to have "experts" work with her to find a part time job. She has many skills and her behaviors stem from more internally based issues related to anxiety and OCD but can be managed in the right environment and also with an employer that is understanding and flexible. Her staff person goes with her everywhere - college program, volunteer job, drum lessons, gym for working out and taking water aerobics, daily living activities, and so forth.

Sheri Stanger

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Sheri Stanger

Hi Sheri,
Yes I stated in this field with someone who had about 6 or more outburst a day, physical. Was in a workshop. Was able to get them down to 0-1 a day and out in the community working. When I worked at DVR I had many people go to work over the 20 years I was there. One person who comes to mind was someone who was very stressed with the application process. I needed to get a copy of his picture ID and SS card. This was something he didn't want to part with so I just took him and his job coach to the printer in the staff room with me to show him what I was doing and to give it right back. He kept hitting his chest he was so worried about the cards. I don't remember what job he got but yes he was closed employed. What activates does her support staff do with her now? Is it at the volunteer jobs? Is she still doing the volunteer jobs? For her it is more about the environment than the job, she needs to like the job of course, but what I mean is she needs the right employer. One who sees her value and the value she brings to the job, that she is working for her money. HKNC has a program that you might want to explore. It is called Deaf-Blind Immersion Experience, DBIE. The link for it is https://www.helenkeller.org/hknc/deaf-blind-immersion-experience . What I would suggest for next steps is for your reaching out to the Regional Representative hat covers your area, who is Cecelia Norman Email: cecelia.norman@hknc.org VP: 516-570-3246 to learn more about this program and if it is a fit for your daughter. I would also encourage you to approach VR about funding this program and in general about a "carved/supportive" employment services. If she is denied services you can always go to your CAP, Client Assistance Program, in your area. They are there to support you.

Marlene Swarts

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Marlene Swarts

Marlene - have you had success with folks that are deaf-blind with developmental disabilities along with Behavioral challenges that require 1:1 support on the job due to behaviors and have you had success with Customized Employment? My daughter is 24 years old, has CHARGE syndrome, has low vision and is hearing impaired (but verbal and social), very independent, can read and write and do research on topics. However, due to her behavioral challenges (outbursts from time to time due to OCD and anxiety) she requires a 1:1 to always be with her. We have a hired 1:1 support staff through her self directed budget in NY. She has been denied Supported Employment because the "job coach" can never leave. She is very capable and has many skills but the behaviors keep her from getting opportunities to enter training programs or work with the Commission for the Blind or HKNC because she is not considered Supported Employment material. It is very frustrating and she's left with nowhere to go in terms of employment unless I find a job for her. I have found her 2 different volunteer jobs. I'm very interested in Customized Employment but not quite sure how to begin the process. Thank you!

Sheri Stanger

Posted 11 Mo. Ago by Sheri Stanger

Hi Debra,
Yes I can. I have had many obtain employment. I had one person who was Deaf Blind, had limited cognitive abilities and had a criminal history. The first employment site that was obtained was at a restaurant. Because of the cognitive limitations this person was unable to understand why they could not use their phone during work when they saw that others were. It was explained multiple times in multiple different ways that the others were using their phone for work related purposes. They were fired. The employer chose they didn’t want to hurt their chances for other employment that may be more appropriate so they called it a layoff. The CRP searched for other employment. After about 8 months they were able to secure other employment in a retail environment. Everyone puts they phones in their lockers as no one is taking orders or on the phone for work related calls in this environment. For people with additional disabilities the environment becomes more important than the actual job tasks. During this process benefits planning was also provided. This person was afraid of losing their benefits and struggled with understanding them. We were able to show to this person that going to work they would have more money in their pockets. The benefits planning took place before the job search started, after they got the first job, after they lost their job and then again once they obtained the second job. The reason was so at the start they knew what to expect, how to report their working to Social Security and to use any work incentive they qualified for. For communication we used a CDI, Certified Deaf Interpreter, and I was there to reinforce information that was provided to them during the meeting, ongoing and throughout the process.


Marlene Swarts

Posted Jun 22, 2018 by Marlene Swarts

Hi Marlene,

Can you share a success story for an individual with deaf-blindness and additional disabilities that have obtained employment with long term supports, please? Thanks, Debra

Debra Pickens

Posted Jun 21, 2018 by Debra Pickens

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