Opening Doors for Work

Frequently Asked Questions

Question List

Click on the question to view the answer.

  1. Why should I meet with a Benefits Specialist?
  2. What should I bring to my first meeting with a Benefits Specialist?
  3. Will the Benefits Specialist tell Social Security that I'm working?
  4. Why does my Representative Payee have to come with me?
  5. Will I lose my benefits if I meet with a Benefits Specialist?
  6. Why do they want so much information about my household and finances?
  7. If I receive Benefits Planning and decide NOT to go to work, will I be penalized by Social Security?
  8. What do I have to sign? What happens to the information I give a Benefits Specialist?
  9. Can a Benefits Specialist help me with an overpayment?
  10. What if I need an interpreter or other special accommodations?
  11. Where will the Benefits Specialist meet with me?
  12. I am applying for Social Security and need help getting on benefits. Can a Benefits Specialist help me?
  13. I want to go to work and I am worried about my health care benefits. Will I lose them if I go to work?
  14. Will a Benefits Specialist find me a job?
  15. Do you work for Social Security?
  16. Does a Benefits Specialist know what will happen to my housing if I work?
  17. Someone told me a few years ago that I couldn't earn more than $500 per month or else I would lose my SSDI benefits. Are the rules still the same?
  18. How much can I earn before I lose my benefits?
  19. What if I am working a part time job and getting paid "under the table"?
  20. How much will the UBPAO service cost me?

Answer List

  1. Why should I meet with a Benefits Specialist?
    A benefits specialist can meet with you and give you information about how work will affect your Social Security benefits. They will also examine any other benefits you receive such as housing, food stamps, or health insurance benefits and helps you understand how work income will impact them.
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  2. What should I bring to my first meeting with a Benefits Specialist?
    a. Proof of income (ex. Letter from Social Security, bank statement)
    b. Recent pay stubs if you are working.
    c. Your Medical cards (ex. Medicaid, Medicare, or any private insurance)
    d. Any paperwork you have explaining other income. (Ex. Private Pension, Long Term Disability.)
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  3. Will the Benefits Specialist tell Social Security that I'm working?
    No, it is not the responsibility of the Benefits Specialist to tell Social Security that you are working. The Benefits Specialist will give you the forms or help you in reporting your income to Social Security.
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  4. Why does my Representative Payee have to come with me?
    Your representative payee is responsible for helping you with your Social Security Benefits. It is just as important for your Representative Payee to understand how work will affect your benefits as it is for you to understand. They will also help you report your income to Social Security.
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  5. Will I lose my benefits if I meet with a Benefits Specialist?
    No, meeting with a Benefits Specialist will not cause you to lose your benefits. The Benefits Specialist will help you understand how work will affect your benefits so you can make an informed choice about working. They can also help you identify any work incentives that you may be eligible for so you may be able to protect your benefit for a period of time while you are trying out work.
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  6. Why do they want so much information about my household and finances?
    The Benefits Specialist will ask you a lot of questions about your household and finances to get an accurate picture of your situation. They want to give you the most accurate information possible and they cannot unless they have complete and correct information from you.
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  7. If I receive Benefits Planning and decide NOT to go to work, will I be penalized by Social Security?
    No, Social Security will not penalize you for not working after meeting with a Benefits Specialist. The Benefits Specialist will give you information about how work affects your benefits but they will not force you to work.
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  8. What do I have to sign? What happens to the information I give a Benefits Specialist?
    The Benefits Specialist will ask you to sign a Program Participation form that allows the program to work with you. We will also ask you to sign a release of information with Social Security so that the Benefits Specialist receive a report on your benefits and pass that information on to you.
    All information gathered by the Benefits Specialist will be used to provide you with an informed choice on which services would best help you toward your employment goal. Social Security and independent evaluators collect information from the Benefits specialist so they can evaluate the Benefits Planning Program. Information gathered by any other source than Social Security will not include any identifying information like your name or your Social Security Number.
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  9. Can a Benefits Specialist help me with an overpayment?
    The Benefits Specialist cannot help you with an overpayment with Social Security. The Benefits Specialist can work with you to avoid an overpayment by appropriate reporting of income and finding possible work incentives to use.
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  10. What if I need an interpreter or other special accommodations?
    The Benefits Specialist will accommodate you with a language interpreter or a certified American Sign Language interpreter. We can provide information in alternative formats such as large print or Braille.
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  11. Where will the Benefits Specialist meet with me?
    The Benefits Specialist will meet with you in an office setting or public building near your home. We generally meet in a Vocational Rehabilitation office, a Department of Workforce Services Office, a mental health clinic or a library that is convenient for the consumer.
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  12. I am applying for Social Security and need help getting on benefits. Can a Benefits Specialist help me?
    No, a Benefits Specialist will help you understand how work affects your existing Social Security benefits. We cannot help you apply for or appeal them.
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  13. I want to go to work and I am worried about my health care benefits. Will I lose them if I go to work?
    That depends on your individual situation. A Benefits Specialist can help you with information and possible work incentives to allow you to make an informed choice about your healthcare.
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  14. Will a Benefits Specialist find me a job?
    No, a Benefits Specialist will not find you a job but we can help by referring you to community resources that may be able to help you with your job search and training.
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  15. Do you work for Social Security?
    No, we do not work for Social Security. Some of our funding comes from Social Security but when you work, it is your responsibility to report your work income to Social Security. The Benefits Specialist will not do that.
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  16. Does a Benefits Specialist know what will happen to my housing if I work?
    A Benefits Specialist will meet with you and help you find out what will happen to your rent amount when you work. A Benefits Specialist may help you find work incentives with Subsidized Housing as well.
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  17. Someone told me a few years ago that I couldn't earn more than $500 per month or else I would lose my SSDI benefits. Are the rules still the same?
    No, they are not! A Benefits Specialist will meet with you and explore your individual situation. The rules for Social Security depend on the individual benefit that you receive. Social Security changes their work incentive amounts yearly and it is important to have the most up-to-date information.
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  18. How much can I earn before I lose my benefits?
    That is a very individual situation. It depends on what benefits you receive and your household composition. This is a perfect question to ask a Benefits Specialist.
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  19. What if I am working a part time job and getting paid "under the table"?
    The benefits specialist can only assist you in identifying work incentive when you are working a job where the earnings are reported to the IRS and Social Security. Although it is not the Benefits Specialist's responsibility to report that activity, their files may be audited by Social Security and any information contained could be subject to review. The Benefits Specialist will review possible consequence that may be faced when you get paid "under the table".
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  20. How much will the UBPAO service cost me?
    Services provided by a Benefits Specialist are free of charge. You will not be asked for payment.
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