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Benefits Orientation

Categorized In: Case Services - Assessment Services/Planning

Approved Date: May 01, 2024

Owner: Carla Lasley


All clients receiving local, state, and/or federal benefits will be provided a Benefits Orientation as part of the career planning process.  The Benefits Orientation gives the client the opportunity to make an informed decision about working and provides a foundation for benefits counseling provided in Benefits Analysis Services.


When Nebraska VR is in Order of Selection, individuals in a closed priority category will receive Information and Referral (see I & R FORM.) For people who receive SSI and/or SSDI, the I & R Form will include contacts for Employment Networks, the Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program, and the link to the Social Security Administration publication for beneficiaries with disabilities who want to work: https://www.ssa.gov/redbook/

1. During the Eligibility and Priority process in QE2, the VR Specialist makes referral for Benefits Orientation to a trained Benefits Orientation Specialist using the automated QE2 process. A referral for a Benefits Orientation is required when any of the following appear on the Existing Benefits Screen:  General Assistance, SSDI, SSI, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Housing Assistance, Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), All Other Public Support (when noted on the application), and Medicaid.

2. The VR Benefits Orientation Specialist receives the referral via an automated email from QE2 and schedules a Benefits Orientation as soon as possible with the client, authorized representative, and representative payee, as applicable, and notifies the assigned VR Specialist who may attend the Benefits Orientation and continues with career planning, in the meantime. 


3. The VR Benefits Orientation Specialist prepares for the Benefits Orientation by gathering/having available the following documents and forms (from ‘Forms Associated with this chapter’ tab-- English or Spanish versions):

  • Client’s BPQY Document (which can be found in QE2 uploads; the form should be dated no more than 90 days prior to the Benefits Orientation; obtain a new one if older. Do not use a BPQY from a previous case.) *See #5, below if no the client receives no Social Security benefits due to disability (thus no BPQY.)
  • Title XVI, or Title II or Concurrent Social Security Work Incentives Guide, as applicable to SSA disability benefits the client receives.
  • Benefits Orientation/Referral for Benefits Services Form 
  • Authorization for Exchange of Information-Multi-Agency Release, making certain to have the client initial the agencies from which they consent to have documents released 
  • BP/DHHS Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information (HHS 160) [Reminder:  complete expiration in middle of the page "One year from date of signature."] 
  • BP/SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information (identifying selected provider for Benefits Analysis Services, as applicable) TIP:  Always use CHROME as your browser when completing this or any fillable form, as it will not properly print the information otherwise.
  • Benefits Provider Choice or Declination Form--attached to this chapter and documents the client's choice of providers or captures their signature indicating they decline Benefits Analysis Services.

4. The Benefits Orientation Specialist completes the Benefits Orientation in a face-to-face meeting, when possible.  A virtual or telephone conversation with the client may be acceptable.  This determination must be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the complexity of the client's benefits information, and the client's and, as applicable, authorized representative's, ability to understand the information presented.  See policy Hosting/Initiating a Virtual Meeting for considerations and accommodations for virtual meetings.  Steps of Benefits Orientation:  

      1.  Complete the top portion of the Benefits Orientation/Referral for Benefits Services Form.
      2.  Review all information on the BPQY, including, but not limited to, and not necessarily in this order:
        1. Status of client's Ticket to Work (TTW)
          • If TTW assignment information is not included on the fax cover sheet or BPQY, contact the Program Director of Benefits Services to obtain assignment information
          • If TTW is assigned to another entity, see Ticket to Work Chapter for instructions on unassigning the ticket so it may be assigned to Nebraska VR when the IPE is signed
          • See more details in Background and Training section, below.
        2. Type and amounts of unearned income from benefits received from Social Security, including details of any overpayment, others paid on the record, and details about the next projected medical review
        3. Number of Trial Work Period (TWP) months used to-date, and the number of months available for use, if applicable
        4. Date of next Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
        5. Start and end date for the Extended Period of Eligibility, if applicable
        6. Health Insurance received
        7. Other details, as applicable. See BPQY Handbook at this link for detailed information about the document:  https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/documents/BPQY_Handbook.pdf
      3. Discuss how earning at the Federal Benefit Rate [FBR], Substantial Gainful Activity [SGA] rate, or estimated rate the client is likely to earn by working would affect the client's benefits, to provide a frame of reference for plan development to make informed decisions about a job goal and hours to work.
      1. Review other applicable Work Incentives (SSI, SSDI, or Concurrent)
      1. Discuss other types and amounts of federal, state, or local assistance, documenting these on the Benefits Orientation and Benefits Analysis Services Referral Form
      2. Check the Existing Benefits Screen to ensure it is accurate, and update as necessary to ensure benefits received are accurately reflected on this screen.
        1. An entry of an SSI/SSDI benefit (or both) on the Existing Benefits Screen AND upload the BPQY under Benefits, "Attachment Type BPQY," will result in the "SSI/SSDI Case" flag appearing on the case home screen, signaling the client is exempt from cost participation, per policy.    
      3. Provide copies of all forms reviewed with and signed by the client and authorized representative, as applicable​​​​​​.

5. Document the provision of Benefits Orientation in QE2 as a Team Service and include details about the discussion of individual benefits and applicable work incentives.  NOTE: The IPE cannot be approved until the Benefits Orientation Team Service is documented.



The combined Benefits Orientation/Referral for Benefits Services Form is used as a guide for a full Benefits Orientation and may also be used to conduct an abbreviated Benefits Orientation.  When client-specific benefits are discussed, complete and document the provision of a Benefits Orientation, such as in these circumstances:

  • NO BPQY but the client receives other benefits funded by state, federal, and or local entities: In this case, provide a Benefits Orientation that includes discussion of the benefits received by the client, which may include means-based benefits, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Housing assistance (from a local Housing Authority), Energy Assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or any other federal/state/locally funded benefits, such as Medicaid. Discuss the fact that these benefits will be affected by earnings and ask whether additional examination of these benefits is desired or needed so the client can make an informed choice about earning income by working.  Provide information and/or support as needed to make contacts (with Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Housing Authority, etc.) to obtain more information on the effects of projected income on benefits OR, refer for Benefits Assessment or Benefits Planning services (as applicable) so a more detailed examination of how such benefits will be affected by earned income can be completed via an authorization for Benefits Analysis Services. Document Benefits Orientation as a Team Service in QE2 and include details of the discussion and supports provided in the task note.


  • The client is working and is seeking only job retention or other support, such as hearing aids, vehicle modifications, etc.: In this case, discuss whether there are any circumstances that would result in a change or concern with the client's current benefits (including new work incentives the client may use, changes in income, family circumstances, such as death, retirement, etc., notices received--such as overpayments or changes in benefits by the SSA for which the client requires explanation, or any other identified issues, such as those related to inconsistent or no reporting of income.) If there are no concerns with benefits received, document the Team Service Benefits Orientation and include details of the discussion. Authorize additional benefits services only if the discussion indicates a need to address concerns with benefits, the use of additional work incentives, or other benefits-related activities.  Consult with Program Director for Benefits Services if needed.


  • NOTE:  Social Security Retirement Benefits are not disability-related and should not be listed on the Existing Benefits Screen.  No Benefits Orientation is completed, and clients who need more information about how the tax implications of working while receiving retirement benefits should be referred to the Social Security Administration, a tax preparer, or an accountant.  

7. File/upload copies of the Benefits Orientation/Referral for Benefits Services Form and BPQY as directed by program manual chapter Documentation and your local office practice.

8. Discuss the availability and importance of Benefits Analysis Services (Benefits Assessment, Benefits Planning, Benefits Management, PASS Development) with the client, authorized representative, as applicable.

9. Have the client and authorized representative, as applicable, sign forms listed in #3, above.

10. Make referral to client's selected Benefits Services Provider for identified benefits services using the Benefits Orientation Checklist/Benefits Referral Form and send authorization for the appropriate service.  (See Benefits Analysis Services chapter for details about which service to authorize.)  For convenience, providers, services provided, and coverage area are found on the form titled “Benefits Services Providers” attached to this chapter.



After the Benefits Orientation is completed, the client may indicate they do not want to receive Benefits Analysis Services (Benefits Assessment and/or Benefits Planning.)  To support the client in making an  informed choice about accepting or declining such services, the VR Benefits Orientation Specialist will discuss the importance of receiving Benefits Services, as:

  • A lack of understanding of work incentives may limit the client's ability to maximize income and benefits to reach greater economic self-sufficiency.
  • Knowing how federal, state, and local benefits will be affected by earned income is important so the client can plan for changes in benefit amounts.
  • Benefits Services are free to the client, with VR paying the cost, and such services aid in:
    • Identifying and clarifying work incentives and other tools to retain needed benefits while earnings are maximized
    • Addressing concerns with Social Security records that are incorrect or incomplete
    • Providing training and information on the importance of properly and most efficiently reporting earnings
    • Supporting application and access to additional benefits not currently received, but for which the client may be eligible.


If, given all this information, the client declines Benefits Services (Benefits Assessment and/or Benefits Planning), the client will be notified they may request Benefits Services at any time while their VR case is still open by contacting their VR Specialist or VR Benefits Orientation Specialist. The client completes the Provider Choice/Declination Form, indicating their chosen provider or signing to indicate they decline Benefits Analysis Services. The Benefits Services Specialist uploads the form to the QE2 –Benefits Folder. This form may be sent via AdobeSign to have the client sign with an electronic signature.  If the signed Declination form is not returned by the client, the Benefits Orientation Specialist documents declination in a task note, including efforts made to get it signed and noting how the client informed you of the declination (verbally, by email, text, etc.)


If the client later opts to obtain benefits services that were not included on the IPE (reversing their declination) the Benefits Orientation Specialist will authorize the appropriate service(s).  If needed, the IPE will be amended, adding the additional benefits services to the Plan. 


In all cases the Benefits Orientation Specialist will remain assigned to the client’s case in QE2 to follow along so they may complete any authorizations for Benefits Analysis Services and complete a benefits discussion prior to case closure (See Benefits Analysis Services  and Successful Outcome Chapters.) Also see Exiting Plan for Caseload Coverage policy if the assigned Benefits Orientation Specialist leaves agency employment and another Benefits Orientation Specialist needs to be assigned.  

Benefits Orientation provides a client a basic overview of their benefits, an explanation of Work Incentives that may be applicable to them, and information about the Ticket to Work (TTW) program.

The explanation of the Ticket program identifies available supports that enhance the client's ability to work or, if already working, to increase earnings and attain economic self-sufficiency to the greatest extent possible.  That explanation includes the following details:

  • When receiving employment support under the Ticket to Work program the client is agreeing to make a steady effort to achieve greater self-sufficiency
  • All adults age 18-64 who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible to participate in the TTW Program
  • If a client's Ticket to Work is determined to be assigned to another entity (as identified by information received from SSA directly or via the VR Benefits Services Program Director), support to unassign the ticket so it may be assigned to Nebraska VR is provided by the Benefits Orientation Specialist, per details in Ticket to Work chapter
  • The client's Ticket to Work is considered In-Use with Nebraska VR when it is not assigned elsewhere, the client is in pay status with SSA, and the IPE is signed  
  • When a client's Ticket is In-Use with Nebraska VR and the client is making progress as defined by SSA, the client is, in most cases, exempt from a Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
  • Assignment of the Ticket to Work to Nebraska VR may allow VR to be reimbursed by Social Security for the cost of providing services to the client 
  • When VR closes the case the ticket is no longer In-Use with VR and the client may continue receiving employment support by assigning their Ticket to an Employment Network within 90 days of closure
  • VR will provide support to reassign the ticket at closure, as needed.
  • The client can get more information about the Ticket to Work program by visiting www.choosework.net,  by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1.866.968.7842/866.833.2967 (TTY/TDD) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, or by sending an e-mail support@choosework.ssa.gov  

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