One of the first steps in Aron’s journey to return to work was calling the American Dream Employment Network call center, which he did in 2017. He spoke to an ADEN representative who explained that the Ticket to Work program is a free employment program through the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides access to employment support services for Social Security disability beneficiaries who want to return to work or work for the first time.
Aron was connected to an ADEN Member in his home state of Connecticut and began working with Barbara Green of Workforce Alliance. When Aron assigned his Ticket to Work to ADEN, he was already working part-time as an adjunct sociology professor, but he wanted a stable, full-time career plus benefits. ADEN was there to help Aron achieve his dream.
While Aron worked part-time as an adjunct professor, Barbara helped him develop his resume to reflect his current skill set and assisted him in applying for jobs. As a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, Aron needed to be aware of how earned income and resources would impact his monthly SSI check. Barbara, a Certified Work Incentive Practitioner (CWIP), helped Aron understand the work incentives available, including how he could maintain Medicaid eligibility even after his SSI check ended.
During the summer, when Aron wasn’t teaching, he and Barbara worked together so that he could keep his SSI check during those months. Reporting earnings to your local Social Security office is extremely vital and required for beneficiaries. Because SSI is a needs-based program, an SSI cash benefit can increase or decrease every month based on your income. Aron signed up for a My Social Security account and was able to report his earnings online.
Aron began a new job, working as an Eligibility Services Worker in May of 2021. As expected, his SSI cash benefits were suspended due to the amount of income he was receiving. However, and most importantly to Aron, he was able to remain on Medicaid, which afforded him the peace of mind he needed to take that first, important step towards self-sufficiency.
Continued Medicaid Eligibility allows beneficiaries to keep Medicaid even if their earnings are too high for an SSI cash payment, if they meet certain requirements. According to Social Security, “one of the biggest concerns SSI beneficiaries have about going to work is the possibility of losing Medicaid coverage. Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act provides some protection for these beneficiaries… SSA uses a threshold amount to measure whether a person’s earnings are high enough to replace his/her SSI and Medicaid benefits.” In Connecticut, the 1619(b) threshold is $52,750 for 2022. As a CWIP, Barbara had the resources and background to advise Aron in accordance with his situation.
ADEN requires each of their affiliates to have a Certified Work Incentive Practitioner on staff to ensure proper planning and successful transitions to self-sufficiency. To date, ADEN has 67 certified professionals with these credentials.
Upon being hired, Aron spoke to his employer about workplace accommodations that he felt he would need for his job. He requested assistive technology, voice activation software and grammar check, to help him overcome barriers faced by his dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Aron says these accommodations are helping him be successful. (A free resource recommended by ADEN is the Job Accommodation Network if you want to learn more about workplace accommodations.)
Barbara says, “Aron used his experience navigating frustrating public assistance systems to provide exemplary services and advocacy for individuals who are aged and have disabilities. He has gotten the attention of the governor and other policy makers and has earned the respect of his managers and co-workers in such a short time.”
Aron is one of the many hundreds of beneficiaries seeking employment and self-sufficiency with help from the American Dream Employment Network. Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits, and who chose to receive services from the American Dream Employment Network, earned more than $20.7 Million in wages! These wages contribute an estimated $2.4 Million to the federal tax base. With so many resources available, we invite you to choose ADEN as your Ticket to Work provider. ADEN has the tools, experience and expertise to help you on the path to achieve your dreams.
Workforce Alliance is an American Job Center located in New Haven, Connecticut and an ADEN member since 2017. ADEN has over 60 Members nationwide, 14 of which serve beneficiaries nationally through virtual services. Learn more about ADEN by visiting our website. If you are a beneficiary interested in working, call ADEN at 844-687-2336.