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Benefits Planning Learning Community - June 2024


Welcome to the Benefits Planning Learning Community! Together we are working to remove the fear of loss of benefits as a barrier to employment for people with disabilities.

The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed, bring you the most up to date information about changes to benefits, highlight important resources, and help you have conversations, answer questions, and provide benefits planning to the people you support.


Key Messages About Work and Benefits

Five things everyone (and we mean everyone!) needs to know and communicate about work and benefits:

  1. Work and benefits can go together
  2. All public benefit programs in Minnesota support work
  3. People who work can earn more money than those who don't-- even if their benefits change
  4. Benefits should not be the reason someone chooses not to work
  5. Benefits planning helps people see how work is possible, work to their full potential, save money, and get ahead financially


Upcoming Events

Level 3 Benefit Coach Training

For those of us who spend a lot of our time talking about benefits and want to be able to provide benefit coaching as a service to people there's Level 3 Benefit Coach Training. Make sure to complete Level 1 and Level 2 training in the Benefit Planning Toolkit first and get permission from your supervisor. Sign up to be on the waitlist for the next training with our web-based application to get your Benefit Coach Certification.

The next Level 3 Benefit Coach Training is set to take place beginning on September 9, 2024. Go to Disability Hub MN - Benefits Coach Certification to learn more and get signed up for the waiting list.

Benefits Planning Learning Community Meeting

The Benefits Planning Learning Community Quarterly Meeting is your place to get together with other professionals to connect, learn more about incorporating benefits planning into your agency culture, get updates on upcoming benefits changes, and discuss benefits related topics. The meeting is open to any professional who supports people with disabilities in employment. The next meeting will be held August 22, 2024 at 2 pm. Follow this Zoom link to attend.

NCLER Webinar: A Deep Dive into HUD's New Income and Assets Rules

The National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) is hosting a webinar on Thursday, June 13 at 1 p.m. covering changes that occurred for HUD program income and asset limits starting in January. Those who are interested in attending can register here.

SOAR Webinar: Yes, You Can Work! Maximizing Income Through Competitive Employment

This webinar, held on Thursday, June 13 at 3 p.m., will focus on competitive employment opportunities for SSI/SSDI applicants and beneficiaries. Those who are interested in attending can register here.


Benefit Updates

Affordable Connectivity Program Ending

The Federal Communication Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which provided assistance to low-income households in affording broadband internet access has ended. The last month that this program was fully funded was April 2024. For more information on this program, visit

Change to the Treatment of Food and Rent for SSI Recipients

Recently the Social Security Administration (SSA) has made some rulings that will change the way a person's SSI benefit amount is calculated that could lead to increased benefit amounts for some people. The amount of SSI that a person is awarded can be directly affected by any help they receive in either housing costs or food. This type of assistance is called "In Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM).

Based on a recent ruling by SSA a person's SSI check will no longer be reduced based on informal food assistance they receive from their support network. This rule is scheduled to take effect September 30, 2024. the details of the full ruling can be found on the website of the Federal Register.

In a second ruling, SSA has simplified the way housing costs affect a person's SSI check. Prior to the ruling, a person would be considered as receiving ISM if their housing costs were less than the current market value for a similar property. This lead to checks being reduced for people who received assistance with rent or were being charged less than market value. The new ruling, scheduled to take effect September 30, 2024 is that a person will be considered receiving ISM for housing costs if they are less than a figure called Presumed Maximum Value (PMV). This is a fixed amount that changes annually and is equal to $334.33 in 2024. For more details, the ruling is listed on the Federal Register.

Summer EBT

Summer EBT is a new food program that provides families $120 per eligible school-aged child to buy groceries when school is out for the summer. This new program is in addition to free meals that kids of all ages can get at summer meal sites in their communities.

Most families will get these benefits automatically, but some parents will need to apply. For information on how it works, who's eligible and how to apply, see Summer EBT info from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Reminder: Earned Income Disregard is No Longer Available

The Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA) eliminated the requirement that HUD subsidized housing programs use Earned Income disregard (EID) in making rent determinations. As of January 1, 2024, no new residents can qualify for the EID. For those eligible for the EID as of December 31, 2023, the Public Housing Authority will allow the resident to complete their 24-month period. This will phase out the EID requirement completely by December 31, 2025.

For more information, refer to HOTMA FAQ and HOTMA Resource Page.



when someone receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Childhood Disability Benefit (CDB) reports work above a certain level, then SSA will start to do a review of that work. To get more information about possible work incentives that could apply for a person, SSA will send out their "Work Activity Report Form". Filling out this form promptly and completely can be critical in maintaining benefits, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming to complete.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has a guide that can help you support people to fill out this form effectively: Supporting a Beneficiary in Completing a Work Activity Report (Form 820/821).


Tool Spotlight

Because the fear of losing your benefits should never be a reason to choose not to work, but work rules can be complicated. DB101's Work and Benefits Estimator is an essential tool for people to be familiar with.

This tool allows a person to input information about their benefits and their work goal and provides results which detail what will happen to their benefits over time as they go to work. Experts at Disability Hub MN are also available to help by phone, chat, or email to use this wonderful tool!


DB101 Website Updates

DB101 used to have links to Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE) and Blind Work Expense (BWE) report forms created by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). VCU no longer provides these forms so the links were removed from DB101. If you have questions on how to report IRWEs/BWEs, please reach out to Disability Hub MN by phone, chat, or email for assistance.

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