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Benefits Orientation

Categorized In: Case Services - Assessment Services/Planning - Assessment Services

Approved Date: January 23, 2019

Owner: Carla Lasley

Individuals being served in an open priority category who receive SSI or SSDI shall be provided a Benefits Orientation as a part of the career planning process. This information is vital for the client to have in making an informed decision about working, and provides foundational information prior to referral for Benefits Analysis Services.

Individuals in a closed priority category will not receive a Benefits Orientation.  Such individuals will be provided Information and Referral, which includes referral to Employment Networks that may provide benefits consultation, as well as the link to the Social Security site which provides information on work incentives for social security beneficiaries. 

  • Refer to policy to ensure that the person may receive a Benefits Orientation; provide Information and Referral if the person cannot receive a Benefits Orientation
  • Discuss the purpose of a Benefits Orientation with the client
  • Complete the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/Earnings (VR) and the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/General (VR) forms
  • Complete DHHS Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information and have client sign to release information to Benefits Services provider
  • Review results of Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) received from SSA 
  • Enter or verify the Social Security Information and other income in the QE2 record on the Household Income screen
  • Enter or update Services and Benefits Screen, identifying other sources of benefits and services
  • Schedule Benefits Orientation with the client 
  • Discuss and document the findings in a Task Note
  • Refer for Benefits Services if income from employment/self-employment will affect any local, state, or federal benefits 
  • Document client choice of provider or refusal of services on Benefits Services Provider Form and place in file
  1. Check the priority category in which the person is placed and ensure they are in an open category or have been removed from the waiting list before proceeding with a Benefits Orientation.  Provide Information and Referral if the person is not in an open category or is on the waiting list.    
  2. Discuss the purpose of a Benefits Orientation with the client (to identify current benefits and determine whether further review and planning is needed to gain information about the affect of earning income on benefits, and to identify any work incentives available to the client.) Use the Benefits Orientation Checklist SSA Work Incentives list or the Guides attached in Forms for this chapter as the basis for discussion about Work Incentives. 
  3. Complete the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/Earnings (VR) and the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/General (VR) if not completed during the Employment Discussion/Initial meeting.
  4. Enter or verify accuracy of the Social Security information on the Household income screen in the QE2 record. 
    Enter or update the Benefits and Services screen, as applicable  
  5. Send/Fax the two SSA 3288 consents to SSA requesting a Benefits Planning Query (BPQY).
  6. Refer and schedule a Benefits Orientation with the client upon receipt of the Benefits Planning Query (BPQY). The Benefits Orientation should be a face-to-face meeting with the client, if at all possible, but when a face-to-face meeting is not possible a 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, the authorized representative's ability to understand the information presented.  
  7. Discuss the following information with the client during the Benefits Orientation
    • Description of the type(s) of Social Security benefits the client receives
    • Amount of unearned income the client receives from these benefits  
    • Number of Trial Work Period [TWP] months the client has used to-date, and the number of months available for use, if applicable
    • Start and end date for the Extended Period of Eligibility [EPE], if applicable
    • Next Continuing Disability Review [CDR] date
    • Types and amounts of other assistance the client receives [e.g., TANF, SNAP, Housing Assistance, energy assistance, etc.]
    • 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 his/her benefits. This provides a frame of reference in the plan development process for the client to make informed decisions about a job goal and hours to work, and is foundational information for use in the provision of Benefits Assessments Services.
    • Explain the Ticket To Work program, including rights and benefits related to the assignment of the ticket, so the client can make an informed decision about ticket assignment
  8. Document the above information in a task entry titled Benefits Orientation.
  9. Place copies of the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/Earnings (VR), and the SSA 3288 Consent for Release of Information/General (VR), Benefits Orientation Checklist, and BPQY in Section 2 of the case file.
  10. SSI and/or SSDI recipients considering an employment or self-employment goal will be referred to a Benefits Services Provider for identified benefits services.  See Benefits Analysis Services Chapter for referral process.
  11. Discuss the importance of Benefits Services with the client (See NOTE, below.) Document client choice of Benefits Services provider or client refusal using Benefits Services Providers Form and place in file.

NOTE about client refusal of Benefits Services:  During the Benefits Orientation, discussion of the importance of receiving Benefits Services is vital.  A client who does not understand work incentives may be limiting their ability to maximize income and benefits to reach greater economic self-sufficiency.  The Benefits Orientation Specialist and VR Counselor play a key role in educating clients on the importance of accessing Benefits Services.  VR staff should discuss that Benefits Services is a service that is free to them, and aids in: 1) identifying and clarifying work incentives and other tools so that needed benefits are retained while maximizing earnings; 2) providing basic support for budgeting earnings and income; 3) addressing concerns with Social Security records found to be incorrect or incomplete; and, 4) providing training and information on the importance of properly reporting earnings.  If, given all of this information, the client refuses a Benefits Services referral, the client will sign the refusal form and the refusal will be documented in a Customized Task note, titled, "Benefits Services Refusal"  The note will include the reasons why the person refused the service.

Benefits Orientation provides a client a basic overview of their benefits, an explanation of Work Incentives available 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 from a State VR agency or Employment Network (EN), the client is agreeing to make a steady effort to achieve these aims
  • All adults age 18-64 who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are eligible to participate in the TTW Program
  • 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)
  • The client's ticket is considered In-Use once the IPE is implemented 
  • When VR closes the case the ticket is no longer In-Use with VR and the client can continue receiving employment support by assigning his/her Ticket to an EN 
  • The client can get more information about the Ticket to Work program by visiting www.choosework.net, can call 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 can send an e-mail to support@chooseworkttw.net

Approved Date
January 23, 2019 Show this Archived Version
December 31, 2018 Show this Archived Version
November 30, 2018 Show this Archived Version
August 07, 2018 Show this Archived Version
May 08, 2018 Show this Archived Version


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