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Vocational Rehab



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Question:
Should I wait until the CDR is done with first? Will voc rehab work with me at all or try to force me into some other employment I can't do yet?


Answer:
Employment training can be considered by the SSA as "significant gainful activity" even if you aren't getting paid for it. In so many words, if you can do 40 hours a week of "vocational rehab." then you can become employed. I would be very careful about semantics here - job training vs. "vocational rehab." specific to your disability could get you in trouble. (Is this "voc rehab" specific to accommodate your specific disability?) For example, you would have a hard time convincing the SSA you are still disabled but able to attend college full time. For much the same reason declaring that you made no income while self-employed won't allow you to continue to be eligible. Doesn't matter if you made no money - you performed "significant gainful activity" trying to make the money.

Keep in mind that your SSI payments are means tested. If you begin to work you will lose $1.00 in SSI benefits for every $2.00 in income you earn. In the end this works to your advantage since you will always end up with an extra dollar in income from working for every one you lose in SSI. Your SSDI benefits will not be affected unless you earn over the monthly maximum. (Roughly over $792.00 income per month - I don't know the exact figure off hand.)

Medicaid is means tested as well. Earned income will impact your continued eligibility for Medicaid - check with your state Medicaid office to find out what the income cap is for eligibility. In my state, even if you are just simply "disabled" and your SSDI payment is over the income cap you are ineligible for Medicaid. I'm not aware that you can retain Medicaid simply because you are disabled, exclusive of income.

In many states your qualifying "status" is also a factor for Medicaid eligibility. Massachusetts, for example, has at least 5 different qualifying status's - "disabled", "unemployed", "employed low income" etc. People that are now viewed as "chronically unemployed" are being whacked off the Medicaid roles in our state - 50,000 in the first "whack." People with "disabled" status are not effected. Your move to employment could affect your eligibility, even if there is no change in your income, just because of a change in your "status." Just another point you will need to check long term on to be sure.





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