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Youth in Transition Toolkit:

3

Employment

Benefits planning

Help youth see how work and benefits go together.

There are many myths about work and benefits that hold people back from working to their full potential or earning and saving money. You can change that! Equip youth and their families with the resources and tools they need to make informed decisions about benefits and work.

  • Awareness: Understand available benefits.
  • Exploration: Explore how benefits can help them reach their goals.
  • Preparation: See how work and benefits can go together.
  • Implementation: Apply for available benefits, set work goals and access work incentives.

Workplace readiness training

Lightbulb LEARN

LEARN: Develop your knowledge

You don't need to learn it all! With the basics, you can dispel myths, be a positive messenger, and use appropriate tools and resources to teach others and get answers.

Use the following resources to address benefits and work topics. Be sure to share them with youth and their families, too.

Disability Hub MN homepageDisability Hub MN is a free statewide resource designed to address benefits planning and other disability-related questions.   

When you run into a tough question about benefits or simply need help, contact a Hub expert by phone, email or chat.

Check out the Hub's benefits planning toolkit to explore additional training, desk aids and resources to support you in this work.

Disability Benefits 101, or DB101, helps people plan ahead and learn how work and benefits go together. DB101 has information on the federal and state benefits most commonly used by people with disabilities. It also provides an estimator designed especially for transition-age youth plus short videos and try-it tools you can use to support youth with disabilities.

Level 2: Orientation to DB101
This course takes about 35 minutes to complete and will help you understand how to use DB101 with the youth you support. You'll learn about:

  • Benefits and work incentives
  • Try-it tools
  • Benefits planning estimators

Start the course »

DB101 also offers content and tools designed with youth in transition in mind. Highlights of the youth and families section include:

Disability Hub MN's benefits planning toolkit offers self-directed training for professionals. Each training level builds on the one before, providing increasing details to support various levels of benefits complexity.

All professionals who work with people with disabilities are encouraged to complete Level 1 training: The basics. Complete Level 2 training: Go deeper or Level 3 training: Benefits coach as relevant for your specific role.  

The benefits planning toolkit also offers resources and tools, such as desk aids and short videos, to support you in this work.  

Level 1 training: The basics takes about 30 minutes to complete and will:

  • Introduce you to the most common public benefits and how they support work for people with disabilities
  • Give you tools to help address concerns along the way

Level 2 training: Go deeper includes a series of smaller modules to give you more details on the most common public benefits and how they support work for people with disabilities.

After completing level 2 training, you will:

  • Have accurate information, resources and tools to support work and benefits
  • Feel comfortable dispelling common myths about benefits and work
  • Understand eligibility criteria and work incentives for common state and federal public benefits, including how to access benefits and automatic work incentives
  • Know how to introduce a person to Disability Benefits 101, including how to create an account, request a benefits lookup to identify current cash and health care benefits, and find and save relevant videos, articles and tools
  • Be able to provide the right amount of information at the right time, including how and where to refer someone for more detailed information about benefits and work

The benefits planning toolkit resources and tools section provides fact sheets, desk aids and teaching videos. The video SSI and youth who work may be especially valuable in your work with youth.

Disability Benefits 101, or DB 101, offers a collection of content plus various teaching tools to demonstrate work and benefits concepts. Visit DB101 and follow the instructions below to explore some of the site's tools.

 

1EXPLORE AN ARTICLE

Step 1: Navigate to DB101's "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)" article

  • On the DB101 homepage, click the Programs tab at the top of the page
  • Under the Cash benefits heading on the Programs page, click Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Step 2: Read the "Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The Basics" article

  • At the end of the article, watch the 5-minute What is SSI? video
  • Click the Add to favorites link on the top right side of the page to add the article to your list of favorite articles in My Vault

2USE A TRY-IT TOOL

Step 1: Navigate to DB101's "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)" article and click "SSI and Work" in the sub-menu

Step 2: Try the "On SSI? Get a quick estimate of how working may affect your income" try-it tool

A screenshot of the "On SSI? Get a quick estimate of how working may affect your income" Try-it tool
This tool can give people a quick idea of what their income would look like if they had a typical SSI benefit.

  • Under "Your situation today," enter:
    – Monthly SSI benefit amount: $841
    – Monthly Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) benefit amount: $81
    – Are you blind, according to Social Security? No
    – Are you under 22 years old? Yes
    – Are you in school at least half time? Yes
    – Were you working in [prior month]? No
  • Under "Your future plan," enter:
    – Gross monthly income from all jobs: $800
    – How much will you claim in monthly Impairment-Related Work Expenses? $0
  • Click "Continue"

Step 3: Review the try-it tool results
Using the details above, the person would have more than $800 more each month with this plan. Pay special attention to The Bottom Line messages as you scroll down the page. Here you'll see that the person's SSI would not be reduced because of the Student Earned Income Exclusion work incentive.

Step 4: Click "Close"

Step 5: Click "Add to favorites" in the yellow box to save the try-it tool to your favorites in My Vault
When you need the tool in the future, simply navigate to My Favorites on your My Vault dashboard.


3CHECK OUT INFORMATION on the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) work incentive

Step 1: Navigate to DB101's section on the SEIE

  • On the SSI and Work page, scroll to the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) for Students Under 22 section.

Step 2: Click "+ Show More" to read about the SEIE

Step 3: Try the "Your Countable Earned Income (with SEIE)" try-it tool

A screenshot of the "Your Countable Earned Income (with SEIE)" Try-it tool

Enter the following information:

  • Your monthly earned income: $1,200
  • Your impairment-related work expenses (IRWEs): $0

The results show countable earned income as $0. This means the person earned $1,200 this month and would keep their full SSI payment because of the SEIE.

Step 4: Click "Add to favorites" in the yellow box to save the try-it tool to your favorites in My Vault
When you need the tool in the future, simply navigate to My Favorites on your My Vault dashboard.

DB101's school and work estimator shows people younger than 25 how working and staying in school can help them. Complete a sample session, and then teach youth to use it, too.

Step 1: On DB101, sign in to your My Vault account

Step 2: Navigate to the school and work estimator

  • On the DB101 homepage, scroll to Benefits Planning Estimators and click School and Work Estimator
  • Click Get started

Step 3: Complete the estimator

  • Your completed scenario will be saved in your My Vault account under Saved Estimator Sessions

Step 4: Consider questions to ask when using the scenario with youth

  • How much money does Sarah have when working 10 hours and still getting benefits? Find the answer: Plan summary (total monthly income under "Your plan")
  • How much more money will Sarah have when she is working? Find the answer: Bottom line (third bullet)
  • Can people work while on benefits and make more money? Answer: Yes!

For help using the school and work estimator, contact a Hub expert through chat, phone or email.

Get familiar with My Vault's planning paths and activities. 

The Level 2: Orientation to My Vault course takes about 16 minutes to complete and will:

  • Introduce you to My Vault's planning paths and activities, as well as contacts and files areas
  • Help you understand how My Vault can be used to help the people you support

Start the course »

Other helpful resources from Disability Hub MN:

Create your own My Vault account so you can have a better idea of My Vault and how it can help the people you support. Visit Using My Vault to support people for instructions on creating a My Vault account and using it with the people you support.

With your own My Vault account, you can:

  • Save favorite pages and tools on the Disability Hub MN and Disability Benefits 101 sites
  • Save DB101 estimator sessions and return to them later
  • Store files
  • Create contacts
  • Securely share information and planning activities with youth and families

The benefits planning path guides people through short activities to help them understand what happens to their benefits when they work. Results can be stored, shared and updated over time.

Find an overview of benefits planning activities on the planning for benefits page. Then, sign into your My Vault account and go to the benefits planning path. As you experiment with each activity, consider how you can embed the activities in your work. 

  • Your future is in your own hands. Know what you want and make a plan to get it.
  • Public benefits can provide some money and health care to help you live — but benefits alone provide barely enough money to get by, let alone to live the life you want.
  • Benefits paired with work lead to more money, more choices.
  • Benefits are great tools to help you reach your goals, but they also come with responsibilities. Know how to manage your benefits.
  • Benefits alone should never be the reason you don't work.
  • Benefit programs have rules and incentives to help you work and get the education you need for a career.
  • You can work and keep health care benefits, if needed.
  • People on SSI are always better off financially when they work.
  • There is a lot of bad information out there about benefits and work. It's important for you to get the facts and help others combat their fears with facts.
Resources DO

DO: Work with youth

Find activities to help youth understand how work and benefits can go together.

Even though youth might not care about benefits today, it's important for them to understand enough about work and benefits so they can advocate for their goals and use benefits planning resources appropriately.

Step 1: Walk through the Build your dream worksheet (PDF).
This worksheet will help youth think about their future and how much money they'll need to live the life they want.

As you walk through the worksheet, ask questions like:

  • What do you see yourself doing when you're 25?
  • Where do you see yourself living? Will you live by yourself or with a roommate?
  • What do you think you'll need?
  • What do you think you'll want?
  • Will you cook all of your meals or will you want to eat out sometimes?

Step 2: Ask: What do you need to have enough money to pay for the things in your budget?
Answer: A job!

Some people have cash benefits, like SSI, but most often this isn't enough to live on.

Step 1: Ask what they've heard about SSIs.

  • Have you heard of SSI? What is it?
    Answer: A Social Security Administration program that gives cash benefits to people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. The amount you get in SSI benefits is based on your financial need and your living situation.
  • Do you know how much SSI provides a month?
    Answer: The maximum monthly SSI benefit in 2022 is $841 for a single person.

Step 2: Ask if they've heard that you can't work if you're on SSIs.
If so, explain that this isn't right. SSI is designed so that people are better off when they work. Plus, people on SSI need to work if they want to afford more than just the very basics.

Step 3: Review the budget from the build your dream activity.

  • Can you afford what you want on SSI alone? 
  • If benefits aren't enough, how can you get the money you need?
  • Answer: A job!

Help youth complete a benefits lookup in My Vault so they understand their current benefits and can use that information to plan for the future.

Step 1: Introduce My Vault.

Step 2: Help youth create their own My Vault account: My Vault: How to create an account (PDF).

Step 3: Guide youth toward the Get a benefits lookup activity in the My Vault benefits planning path.

  • Inform youth that this activity provides a benefits summary from the Department of Human Services. It helps them know what benefits they're getting, so they can make sure their information is correct and that they're getting the right benefits.
  • Instruct youth to check their My Vault account in a day or two. When the lookup is ready, they will need to click the notification bell in the upper right corner of the page to accept the lookup into their My Vault account.
  • Remind youth that the lookup is saved in My Vault. They can use it to complete estimator sessions, such as the school and work estimator.

Step 1: Review Benefits for young people: Why benefits matter in Disability Benefits 101.

Step 2: Help youth understand work incentives — rules that can help them work, keep benefits if they need them, and have more money. For example:

  • Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) allows people who are younger than 22 and in school to keep SSI and income from work (up to a certain amount). Share the SSI and youth who work video and DB101's article on SSI and young people.
  • 1619(b) and MA-EPD are health care work incentives. 1619(b) lets youth who work their way off SSI keep their Medical Assistance (MA). MA-EPD lets youth who have a disability but don't get SSI keep their MA when they work and earn too much for regular MA. Share DB101's Working: Your benefits and your job for details. 

Additional resources:

Step 1: Walk through a practice school and work estimator session.

  • If the youth has access to a computer and is able, guide them through the session.
  • If not, ask the youth to watch you complete the session.

Step 2: Ask follow-up questions based on the results.

  • How much money would you have when working 10 hours and still getting benefits? Find the answer: Plan Summary (total monthly income under "Your plan")
  • How much more money would you have if you worked more? Find the answer: Bottom line (third bullet)
  • Would you still have health care coverage? Find the answer: Bottom line (second bullet)
  • Compare the estimator income to the budgets created in the build your dream activity. Would you be close to affording the items in your budget?
  • Can you work while on benefits and make more money? 

Step 3: Help the youth do another session using their own information.

  • Once complete, help the youth share the results with their family. This can be done by email or through My Vault using the estimator's share option. You can also print the results.

For help using the the school and work estimator, contact a Hub expert through chat, phone or email.

Picture a proud young man bringing home the results from a school and work estimator session. He can now show his parents how he'll be better off working and address some of their concerns. 

When youth are engaged, they tend to bring their parents along on the journey. You can help them do that by sparking their interest and giving them positive experiences they can demonstrate to their families. You can also provide tools and tips that empower young people to advocate for themselves.

If they haven't already, encourage youth to share estimator results with their families. This can be done by email or through My Vault using the estimator's share option. You can also print the results.

Encourage youth to share estimator results and discuss with their family how work affects benefits. They can ask their family:

  • What was your first job? 
  • Do you have concerns about me working?  
  • Do you have concerns about what will happen to my benefits if I work?
  • After looking at my estimator results, do you still have concerns?
  • Will you call Disability Hub MN to get your questions answered so we have the facts?

You can distribute information about benefits and work created specifically for parents. Encourage youth to share the following links (or print the articles to bring home).

Disability Benefits 101

Disability Hub MN

If parents have concerns about benefits and work, let them know they can contact a Hub expert through chat, phone or email.

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