Benefits Counselor Sets Things Right

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James receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and works as a full-time janitor on a ServiceSource Delaware (SSDE) government contract. A short while back he received notification that his disability benefits payments were being terminated due to his earnings being above the allotted amount approved by SSDI, or what the federal government considers substantial earnings.

James was struggling to pay all his bills. Enter Maria Luna-Medina, SSDE Certified Benefits Counselor & Financial Coach. In consultation with James’ supervisors, Maria was able to identify “applicable work incentives” based on accommodations, or supports due to his disability, that James needs to perform on his job. These accommodations are classified as an “employer subsidy,” the value of which reduces the earnings SSDI uses in determining government benefit eligibility. With assistance from Maria, the proper paperwork was submitted requesting that the employer subsidy be applied retroactively (back to 2015). To James’ relief his request was accepted; the over-payment forgiven; and benefits were reinstated. As it stands today, James is knowledgeable about work incentives available to him and his responsibility to report his income to maintain eligibility while he works. With the financial “bump in the road” attended to and a better plan in play, James welcomes a renewed peace of mind.

James’ story fits appropriately this month. In 2015, President Barack Obama proclaimed April as National Financial Capability Month “to renew our efforts to support the informed financial decisions that will open doors into the middle class and help ensure economic security for all.” As stated in the Presidential Proclamation, “Financial literacy enables people of all ages to make smart choices and set goals to protect their hard-earned income.”

President Donald J. Trump has continued the tradition. “My Administration will work with committed organizations in all sectors to improve financial education and share best practices so that all Americans ‑‑ no matter their income, education, or background ‑‑ have the capability to make sound financial decisions.”

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