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WISE Webinar 2017-11: Working for Yourself with Ticket to Work

>>Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar on Working for
Yourself with Ticket to Work. Before we get started, I’d like to go through
a few logistics so all of you on the line today can enjoy and learn from today’s webinar
most effectively. To access today’s webinar, you can manage
your audio using the Audio option at the top of your screen. It looks like a microphone or telephone icon,
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headphones are plugged in. And if you do not have sound capabilities
on your computer, or if you prefer to listen by phone, you can dial the toll-free number
1-800-832-0736, and the Access Code is 8458462. A few notes about webinar accessibility. Real-time captioning is being provided during
this webinar. The captions can be found in the Captioning
Pod, which appears below the slides. You can also access captioning online via
the following link, For today’s Question and Answer, please use
the Q&A pod to submit any questions you have during the webinar, and we will direct the
questions accordingly throughout the course of the webinar and during the Q&A portion. If you are listening by phone and not logged
in to the webinar, you may also ask questions by emailing questions to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Please note, this webinar is being recorded,
and the archive will be available within two weeks on the Choose Work website at If you experienced any technical difficulties
during the course of today’s webinar, please us the Q&A box to send a message, or you may
email [email protected] And again, that email is [email protected] And with that, I’d like to once again welcome
all of you. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s
webinar. We have a wonderful presentation for you all
today. My name is Brittany Taylor with the National
Disability Institute Consulting, and I am going to be joined by my colleague Nancy Boutot
in co-moderating today’s webinar, and we are very excited to have Colleen Moynihan from
the New England Business Associates and Paula Ryan from Empower Tennessee join us for today’s
webinar. Paula Ryan is a Community Work Incentive Coordinator,
a CWIT Social Security Work Incentive and Planning Assistance Program at Empower Tennessee. Paula has worked as a Benefits Counselor for
over five years, and prior to that, Paula worked for the Social Security Administration
for over 30 years. She has experience with Social Security Title
to Retirement, Survivors and Disability, and Titled XVI Supplemental Security Income Disability. Her last 15 years with Social Security was
in a highly specialized job as a PASS Specialist. That’s a Plan to Achieve Self-Support Specialist. And Colleen Moynihan was the Director of NEBA;
that’s the New England Business Associates Development Center since 2008. Colleen assists individuals in planning and
implementing their business concepts. She is responsible for the Ticket to Work
program and the PASS Plan. That’s, again, the PASS Plan is the Plan to
Achieve Self-Support Plan, and she has spent 25 years prior to that with two Fortune 100
companies as an executive in Marketing and Strategic Planning. She has served on National Industry Boards
as an Advisor on Federal Regulation and Legislation and has operated her own Business Consulting
firm since 1991. And some of the topics that we’re going to
talk about on today’s webinar is an overview of the Social Security Ticket to Work Program,
how a work incentive can help with self-employment, and why you may want to choose self-employment
as an option for you or a family member. And then, look a little bit more at the New
England Business Associates Business Development Center. And then, we’re going to share multiple resources
with you all, so continue learning further and answer some of your questions that you
may have. And hopefully, by the end of the webinar,
you all will have a little better understanding of how the Social Security Administration’s
Ticket to Work program can help you achieve financial independence through self-employment,
and you can learn how you can begin your path to work and who can help you get there. And I know we have a jam-packed agenda today
and a lot of wonderful information to share with you all. So, with that, I am going to hand it over
to Paul Ryan so she can begin to go through more information for you all on the Ticket
to Work program. Thanks again for joining us today, Paula.>>Thank you. And I’m happy to be able to spend this time
to talk to you about the Ticket to Work, and hopefully give you a better understanding
about how all of these rules that you deal with with Social Security will apply when
you have that goal to be self-employed. So, first off, the Ticket to Work is a program
for individuals who receive a Disability Benefit from Social Security if you want to work. The services through the Ticket to Work are
free and voluntary. The ultimate goal of the Ticket to Work is
to assist people receiving Social Security Disability Benefits and reducing their reliance
on Disability Benefits. The Ticket program also seeks to promote increased
self-sufficiency and greater independence for people receiving Social Security Disability
Benefits through work. Social Security has more than one type of
disability program. Each program has its own set of rules for
getting the benefit in the first place and rules about what happens if you go to work. Some individuals may receive more than one
type of benefit payment from Social Security. Social Security Disability Insurance, also
called SSDI, is one type of benefit. To quality for SSDI, you must be disabled
based on Social Security’s rule and have worked long enough and recently enough to be insured
for disability benefits. SSDI is disability insurance which you pay
for with the FIFA taxes, sometimes listed on your pay stub as Social Security Tax and
Medicare Tax that come out of your paycheck or that you pay on your self-employment tax
return. FICA, or F-I-C-A, stands for Federal Insurance
Contributions Act. If you receive SSDI, your monthly payment
comes on the third of the month, or it might come on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday
of the month. In some cases, other family members may receive
a benefit on your SSDI record. Most individuals who receive SSDI are eligible
for Medicare after 24 months. If a wage earner is retired, disabled, or
deceased, their child, who was disabled prior to age 22, may be able to receive a disability
benefit on the parent’s Social Security record. This benefit is called Disabled Adult Child
or Childhood Disability Benefit. When we discuss the work incentives for SSDI,
the same rules apply if instead of receiving disability on their own work record, you receive
a disability benefit on your parent’s record. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is another
disability payment you may receive from Social Security. SSI is for individuals who are disabled and
have limited income and resources. To qualify for SSI Disability, you must be
disabled based on Social Security’s rules and have income and resources, like money
in the bank [inaudible] the limits for the SSI program. In 2017, the base Federal SSI payment is $735. It increases to $750 next year. Some states pay a supplement in addition to
this Federal SSI payment. Your SSI payment comes on the first of the
month, and the health insurance you receive with SSI is Medicaid. In some states, you automatically receive
Medicaid if you have SSI. Some states make their own Medicaid decisions. You may receive both SSDI and SSI. This can happen if you worked enough to be
insured for SSDI but the amount of your SSDI payment is less than SSI for the state you
live in. You will receive your SSDI payment and will
receive a separate payment for SSI. As an example, let’s say that your SSDI payment
is $700 per month; you meet all the rules for SSI eligibility, and you live in a state
that only pays a Federal SSI benefit of $735. Social Security does not count the first $20
of your SSDI benefit; so, they only count $680. So, $735, maximum SSI per states that only
pay the Federal amount minus $680 countable income equals an SSI payment of $55. You would receive two payments from Social
Security. You would also potentially have both Medicare
and Medicaid health insurance coverage. It is important to know which type of benefit
you receive from Social Security so you will know which rules apply to you, especially
if you get both benefits because the rules for each program are going to apply in your
situation. If you’re not sure of what benefits you receive,
you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842, or you can ask your Social
Security Office when you report your work to them. In August and September, the WISE Webinars
also talked about another way to find out what type of benefit you receive. You can do that by setting up a MySocialSecurity
Account. The webinars are archived if you want to review
them at And so, that again is Well, why choose work? There’s a lot of reasons why an individual
with a disability, or anyone, may decide that they want to go to work. They may want to earn more money. They want to gain more independence, meet
new people, and learn new skills. And starting that journey, the Ticket to Work
can help you. Once y ou decide if work is the right choice
for you, and it’s a big decision, Social Security programs can help you understand how working
will affect y our Social Security disability benefits and other benefits you may receive,
and provide support that you may need to find and keep a job. The Ticket to Work is free and voluntary,
and it offers career development for people age 18 through 64 who receive Social Security
Disability Benefits. So, taking that next step, you’re going to
want to gather information and resources, and that’s a key step, especially if you’re
going to be self-employed but for any job. And then, knowing what work incentives and
how do use the Ticket to Work can help make your journey a smoother one. For more information about the Ticket to Work,
you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or
the TTY number is 1-866-833-2967, and you can visit the following website, That’s Now, we’re going to talk about work incentives. When you hear the word work incentives, there
are special provisions in the law which can help you. They allow you to test your ability to work
or to continue working and gradually becoming self-supporting and independent. Some work incentives allow you to protect
cash benefit. Some help you save money for expenses needed
for you to work or to make it easy for you to begin receiving benefits again if you cannot
continue to work or have to reduce the level of your work. There are work incentives that allow you to
maintain medical benefits like Medicare and Medicaid, which we will talk about next month
in the WISE. Everything we talk about today is explained
in an FSA Book, a Social Security publication called the Red Book, which can be found online
at Some work incentives only apply to SSDI or
SSI and some apply to both. Some work incentives only apply if you’re
self-employed. There are work incentives that only apply
if you’re blind. Because it sometimes gets confusing, it’s
always best to phone the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 if you’re not sure
what applies to you. They may refer you to a benefit planner for
specialized advice on working and what work incentives you can use and how working will
affect your benefits. Do you know what type of work Social Security
considers to be self-employment? You may have your own business. It may be a business in a location customers
come to, or your business may be done all online. You may work for a company or agency as an
independent contractor. To be an independent contractor, you’re not
working under their direct control, and instead of a W2, you receive a 1099. You may deliver newspapers, be a hairstylist,
or a freelance writer or artist. Before we discuss the three work incentives
shown on your screen, I’m going to provide you with a little background about certain
other work incentives so you will better understand the three work incentives that can help with
self-employment. The Plan to Achieve Self-Support, Unincurred
Business Expenses, and Property Essential for Self Support. We’ll talk about them in just a moment. If you receive SSDI benefits, Social Security
Disability Insurance, the first work incentive you use is the Trial Work Period. The Trial Work Period is only for SSDI and
no other work incentives apply during the Trial Work Period. The Trial Work Period allows you to test your
ability to work. During the nine months of the Trial Work Period,
you receive your SSDI Cash Benefit regardless of how high your earnings are. The Trial Work months do not have to be consecutive. Once you have used all nine Trial Work months
within a 16-month period, you have used up this work incentive. If you have worked since your entitlement
to SSDI, you may have already used some or all of the nine Trial Work months. In 2017, your work counts as a Trial Work
month if you earn more than $840 in a month or when you’re self-employed, if you work
more than 80 hours in a month. Either of these rules will count as a Trial
Work month. So, if you only earned about $500 a month
in self-employment, but you worked 100 hours a month, you used Trial Work months. You will see as we discuss the work incentives
that record-keeping is very important when you’re self-employed. Since you do not get pay stubs when you’re
self-employed, Social Security will ask for your self-employment tax returns and other
records to help them decide if you have used Trail Work months. Once you use up the nine Trial Work months,
you begin your extended period of eligibility, also called EPE. The EPE is a 36-month period. The months are consecutive. Social Security looks at your records to see
if you’re earnings are substantial based on Social Security rules by using a map called
SGA, Substantial Gainful Activity. In 2017, SGA is $1,170. If you’re blind, it’s $1,950. If you earn less than SGA, you continue to
receive your SSDI Cash Benefit. If your earnings are more than SGA, after
all the rules and work incentives have been applied, they’re not your Cash Benefit. However, even if you’re not receiving a Cash
Benefit, you’re still eligible for benefits. If you have to stop working or must reduce
the amount of your work, your Cash Benefit can be resumed without having to file a new
application during the 36 months of the extended period of eligibility. After the 36-month EPE, if you’re earning
more than SGA, your Cash Benefits may end, but you continue to be eligible for Medicare. This work incentive is called Medicare for
Persons with Disabilities who Work. Most individuals who work will continue to
receive at least 93 consecutive months of Medicare. The 93 months are counted, starting with the
month after the Trial Work period. If your Cash Benefits ended because of work
and within five years, you have to stop working or reduced your work to a level below SGA
because of your disability, you may request reinstatement of your benefits. This Work Incentive is called Expedited Reinstatement,
or EXR. You may get paid up to six months of provisional
or temporary benefits. While Social Security makes the decision on
the request, EXR applies to both SSDI and SSI. So, the first Work Incentive that has to do
with self-employment that we’re going to talk about is Unincurred Business Expenses, and
Unincurred Business Expenses is a Work Incentive that only applies to Social Security Disability
Insurance. The Internal Revenue Service has its own rules
about what are allowable business expenses on self-employment tax returns. To claim an expense on your tax return, you
must pay for the item or service. Sometimes, agencies like state Vocational
Rehabilitation will pay for some business startup expenses. For example, Vocational Rehabilitation may
pay for a computer or other equipment for your business, or if you need a beginning
inventory of product for your business, they may pay for that. They may even help with utility costs or business
rent for a few months. These items would be an allowable business
expense on your tax returns if you paid for it. If your state Vocational Rehabilitation paid
for some of your business expenses as a part of your employment plan, you cannot claim
this on your tax return. But since it would have been allowable if
you paid for it, it can be deducted by Social Security from the earnings they count when
they evaluate the amount you earned from self-employment. Unpaid help is another unincurred business
expense. This is when a family member or friend works
for free in your business. For example, a family member donates time
to work in your business for free every day while you take a lunch break and go to the
bank and post office. A reasonable amount you would have paid for
this help can be deducted by Social Security from the earnings they count. With good records, unincurred business expenses
may show that you are not earning over SGA yet. For example, Social Security is evaluating
your tax returns and other records to determine if your self-employment earnings are more
than SGA. You’ve already used up your nine-month Trial
Work period. If after evaluating all the information they
have, they determine you had net self-employment income of $1,800 monthly, which is more than
SGA for non-grant individuals, you would not redo your SSDI Cash Benefit, your Social Security
Disability Insurance Cash Benefit unless you could use the Work Incentive to reduce the
amount Social Security counts. If you had unpaid help and a friend or family
member donated ten hours a week, which would be 40 hours a month to your business, and
it was valued based on the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, $290 a month could
be deducted as an unincurred business expense. So, $1,800 net monthly self-employment income,
based on tax returns and other business records, minus $290 value of unpaid help equals $1,510
countable income for the SGA decision. Using the Unincurred Business Expense Work
Incentive in this example would reduce the amount Social Security counts for the low
SGA, and you would still be getting your SSDI Cash Benefit. Remember, for an item or service to qualify
as an Unincurred Business Expense, it must be an item or service the IRS would allow
as a legitimate business expense if you paid for it, and someone other than you must have
paid for it. Unincurred Business Expense is a work incentive
for SSDI only, but there are other work incentive UPEs if you receive SSI. For Supplemental Security Income, SSI, your
countable income and resources must be under the limits for the program. Not all income and resources count. The amount you receive in SSI depends on the
maximum amount of SSI for the state you live in and how much countable income you have
that is subtracted from that maximum SSI amount. SSI Work Incentives for Self-employment allow
Social Security to not count certain things as income or resources. Under the general SSI rules, an individual
cannot have countable resources worth more than $2,000; the limit for a couple is $3,000. Some things that do not count as a resource
is the home you live in and one automobile. Under the general rules, what usually does
count is money in bank accounts. When you’re self-employed, Social Security
will use your Self-Employment Tax Return and other records to determine how much net self-employment
income you have. They will convert that into a monthly amount
to figure how much you can receive in SSI payments. The health insurance you get with SSI is Medicaid. If your countable self-employment income is
too much for you to continue to receive an SSI payment, you may still be eligible for
Medicaid through a Work Incentive called Medicaid While Working, or 1619B. So, I just wanted to go over that information
for you to see that there’s, there’s a lot of steps and a lot of opportunity for you
to still continue to receive your Cash Benefit and your Health Insurance Benefit when you
go to work. Property Essential to Self-Support, PESS,
is a work incentive for individuals who receive SSI. Social Security will not count as a resource
things you own and use in your business, and this can include your business bank account. However, it is very important to not combine
business and personal funds. This means that the business account can only
be used for the business, and you must have a separate account for your personal use. When we talk about the Plan to Achieve Self-Support
on the next slide, know that this will apply to PASS too. You must always be able to easily identify
your personal funds and your business funds in the various accounts, and it’s best to
always keep them separate. When you use the Work Incentive Plan to Achieve
Self-Support, or PASS, incomes that would normally count against SSI or an excess resource
can be used to fund your business startup. This can mean continued eligibility to an
SSI payment, a higher SSI payment, limited to the maximum SSI payment in the state you
live in, or even being eligible for SSI for the first time if the only reason you don’t
qualify for SSI is too much countable income or resources. If you already receive SSI, you need other
income that normally counts against SSI for PASS to help you. If you already receive two payments from Social
Security, SSI and SSDI, with a PASS, you can use your SSDI to fund your PASS. Another income source to fund your PASS could
be wages from a part-time job. If you already receive SSI, and you receive
a countable excess resource, such as a cash gift or inheritance, if you want to use that
money to start a business, an approved path can exclude the amount of the resource you
plan to devote to the business, which means that portion of the resource would not be
counted against the $2,000 resource rule. If you already receive only SSDI, Social Security
Disability Insurance, but you want to use PASS for your business startup, you will need
to be able to devote enough of our countable income to your PASS to meet the SSI eligibility
rule, and you must be able to meet your regular living expenses with what is left. Will you be able to meet your regular living
expenses with the income not devoted to the PASS, the SSI you’re eligible for with PASS,
and any other income not counted based on other SSI rules. The plan to achieve self-support must be in
writing, and Social Security must approve it. Social Security prefers you use the form SSA545
Plan to Achieve Self-Support. PASS is for a specified period of time, so
it will have a beginning date and an expected ending date. When a PASS has a self-employment goal, a
detailed business plan is required, and most people need help in developing a detailed
business plan. Business plans will be discussed more by the
next presenter. If state location of Rehabilitation and Employment
Network or another agency is assisting you, be sure to include that information on your
PASS. So, why choose self-employment? There’s a lot of reasons why anyone might
choose self-employment over working for an employer and especially reasons for people
that have a disability. You may want more flexible hours. When you’re self-employed, and you’re not
having to show up at a certain time to your job, you may be able to work more around schedules
that you need to work around, such as if you need to have medical appointments and different
treatments or therapies that would make it hard for you to work for an employer. Is finding reliable and affordable transportation
to and from a job difficult? If that’s a problem, then working in a self-employment
type job from home might be an option you might want to think about. Do you need the freedom to work at your own
pace? Are you able to accomplish tasks but in your
own time, not when you’re in an environment with other people that don’t have disabilities
that you’re expected to keep up with? Do you enjoy working on your own? Do you have a passion that you can build a
business around? And are you self-motivated? The self-employment might be the right choice
for you you if you want to meet your work goals, create your own accommodations, transition
from benefits to financial independence, and seek opportunities in different fields of
work.>>That was great. Thank you, Paula. So, before we move on to Colleen, Paula, we
had some great questions that came in while you were talking. So, I’d like to ask you a few questions first.>>Okay.>>The first question is how do I report unincurred
business expenses to the Social Security Administration?>>Okay. Remember, recordkeeping, and so when you’re
self-employed, when you’re employed in any job, but especially when you’re self-employed,
you want to be sure that you’re keeping good records. And so, if unincurred business expenses is
a Work Incentive that you know you’re going to use because you’re earnings are potentially
going to be over SEA, then you want to be sure that you’re keeping records that you
can give to Social Security to use to support that Work Incentive. If Vocational Rehabilitation paid for an item,
they should be able to give you information about what they paid for that item, and so
Social Security should be able to accept that as your proof of an unincurred business expense. If your unincurred business expense was unpaid
help, then you’re going to need to keep a record of the amount of time someone is donating
in your business. And so, just remember that these rules are
only going to apply or be important if your earnings are going to be enough where you’re
going to be approaching the substantial gainful activity level for the year because unincurred
business expenses can be deducted and may mean that you’re not earning over SGA yet.>>Great. That’s fantastic! Thank you very much, Paula. And one more question, is there anybody who
can help me put together a PASS?>>Okay. When you are thinking about using the Work
Incentive Plan to achieve self-support, if there’s someone that helps you with other
paperwork, then that’s somebody you might start with to get familiar with the form and
understand what you need to fill out. But a lot of people need other help, and so
you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line and ask them to refer you to someone who can
help you with PASS. If you’re already working with an Employment
Network or a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, they may be able to help you, or if the Ticket
to Work has already referred you to a Benefit Planner, the Benefit Planner you’re working
with may help you put together a PASS.>>Great. Thank you very much, Paula. That was interesting and great information,
and I think it’s a perfect introduction to Colleen, and she is going to pick up next
and talk to us about self-employment and NEBA. So, thank you, Colleen.>>Thank you, Nancy, and thank you, Paula. Lots of information that all of you listening
right now you’ve decided to learn about starting a business That’s an important background,
and what we’re going to talk about now is going to be a little bit different. It’s going to be about the actual process
of writing a plan. We happen to be New England Business Associates. We call ourselves NEBA, N-E-B-A, and we are
one of more than 500 authorized Employment Networks, or EN, in the Social Security’s
Ticket to Work program nationally. And you can find information about NEBA on
the Find Help Tool at, and that would be, again,, NEBA’s mission primarily is to enable individuals
with disabilities to be fully included in community life, primarily through employment. In 2007, NEBA realized that self-employment
is a very unique form of employment that can often better meet a ticketholder’s needs,
and Paul gave you a great overview of what some of those circumstances may be. As a result, we started our current Self-Employment
program to a joint grant with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. We serve a very, very broad range of individuals
from the ages of 18 through 64. These individuals have various levels of skills,
interests, and abilities, and what is interesting about the business aspect of being self-employed
is that you can have as many different kinds of businesses as you can have people. For example, some of the businesses that we
have been working with over these years include personal service business; some obvious ones
like yard work, dog grooming, hair dressing, people who might be interested in retail operations,
that type of thing. We have people who were involved with light
manufacturing. We’ve had individuals who were actually working
from home. So, the range of the kinds of businesses that
can be held by an individual on the Ticket to Work program is rather broad. One of the questions you may be asking yourself
is what is the NEBA Business Development Center, which we often abbreviate as BDC. The NEBA BDC is a private nonprofit. We are located in Massachusetts, but we do
serve the Ticket to Work program nationally, and we strive to provide an individual approach
to helping individuals start their own business. An example of this is a person may need additional
assistance in understanding how to create a financial projection. Now, if you’re going to be looking at starting
your own business, and you heard Paula talk about a PASS Plan, and she said you’re going
to need a detailed business plan to accompany that PASS Plan. One of the details is having a three-year
projection of both what you expect to get for revenue or what you believe your operating
costs are going to be and what is your net income or profit. So, we help people understand how to work
through that, do it themselves, and have it be pertaining to their specific business. We also help you in taking the concept that
you have to focus on the basis of that plan. Now, again, Paul mentioned that you might
have a passion about something, and many businesses do start from a passion or a hobby. And one of the other things that we very much
require our participants to recognize is that this business plan that you’re writing is
simply a roadmap on what you think you’re going to take to get your business going. Most people, once the plan is done, all of
a sudden realize, well, I need some help to implement, to start this business based on
this business plan. And so, we will continue to work with Ticketholders
so that they are in fact able to use that plan to build their business. I think the best example I’ve ever been able
to come up with is when you were younger and you had a hammer or a screwdriver or a saw,
you’d seen people using it and thought it was easy, but when you tried to use it the
first time, it wasn’t quite so easy. Someone needed to help you figure out how
to actually use a hammer well or to use a screwdriver or the right kind of screwdriver
as well as what type of saw should you use. A business plan is your tool chest, and we’re
going to work with you to help your figure out what tools work best; in other words,
how to help you work smart. So, what in fact is this thing called a business
plan? NEBA works with individuals to write what
we define, and we don’t mean we by NEBA, the business world. We work with what is called a “bankable” business
plan. This is the business world’s definition of
a business plan. It has to be a statement of business goals. You have to have a strategy or a plan for
reaching those goals. Once you’ve determined what those goals are,
whether it’s for the amount of revenue you want to have each year, whether it’s the number
of clients you want to have each year, whether it’s the location you want to work in or grow
from each year, you need an approach, a strategy to get there, and that is called your marketing
strategy, the thing you’re going to do to promote the business to reach out and find
clients. If you’ve been doing a business now, you’ve
probably developed a following with family, friends, people you know close to you in your
community. But if you truly want a viable business, then
you’re going to have to have a much broader approach to reaching a bigger audience. You’re also going to have to have a three-year
look at what you think it’s going to cost you to run that business. You know, sometimes, people have to hire people. Do you know that one of the biggest reason
for a new business to fail has nothing to do with not having enough business; it has
a lot to do with the business owner not being able to delegate responsibility so that other
people, employees, can do the basic work while they go out and continue to meet people at
other businesses to grow their services. Well, that’s a cost, and you got to figure
out, well, where do you think that cost might happen? In addition to looking at your costs, you
do want to have an idea of what you’re going to have at the end of the day, three years
of projected net income. So, this information is going to be able to
determine whether or not your business can support you. We do not, here at NEBA, we do not as a general
rule, work with individuals who are trying to make a hobby more profitable or to expand
their hobby. We work with individuals who are very serious
about starting a business that will ultimately allow them to reduce their reliability on
Social Security benefits. So, when we work with a person, we’re trying
to determine all the time, along with that person, what do you need in order to be self-supporting,
or what is it going to take in terms of client activity? Are you able to actually do that level of
client activity, or do you need to hire another person? So, to kind of review a little bit, how does
NEBA help with that business plan? Well, you have the idea, and we’re going to
work with you to help develop that idea in a business fashion and help you write the
plan. We do not write the plan. You write the plan. It is your plan. It is your property. So, we will guide you in the “protocol” or
standard practices of a business plan. NEBA has always used the business template
from the Small Business Administration’s Score program. We’re going to talk a little bit more about
that later in the hour, but it’s a business plan outline that is recognized and approved
by most lenders and most other business authorities. So, we will use that template and help you
fill it in. It’s sort of a joint application that we kind
of go through that moves from your business idea all the way through to the financials. I’ve already mentioned that we assist you
in implementing the business plan, and we do that so that we can also assist you in
navigating your process through the Trial Work period so that you can make your reporting
to Social Security to your completing your tax return. All those things that Paula touched on, we’re
going to work with you as well as you actually have to do it. So, you’re not given a situation where all
of a sudden you’ve got this very important report to make or this very important presentation
to give to a client. We’re going to be there to help you in fact
be successful. One of the other aspects we do once your business
plan is completed because this doesn’t happen in the business plan, we work with you to
do a sales presentation. We help you with your sales presentation. We work with you to develop your elevator
talk. Now, if any of you out there have already
started to watch programs like Shark Tank, for example, you know that those folks are
expected to give an elevator talk. Well, you’re going to get one. You’re going to work on it. We’re going to help you develop it so that
you can use it in the development of your client relations. So, the three parts of a business plan are
the business concepts and goals, those you are going to come with; the three-year projection
of business costs and how much profit your business is making; and then your marketing
plan for your identified target market. So, as you look at all of these three areas,
these are the keys to what I already mentioned as the bankable business plan, and when you
give your business plan to a lender or another business authority, they are going to look
at that to make certain, aha, what do those financials look like? Do you have the three-year projection? Do you have a profit and loss? How does your balance sheet look? You will be given assistance in developing
all of that. What kind of goals did they set? Are those goals consistent with what those
financials look like? How are the marketing strategies meeting the
market they want to be in? For example, I know that one of those people
that has been very successful in our program has started a dog grooming business. How effective was she in her marketing? Well, she decided to use Facebook; so, we
helped her develop her Facebook approach. We helped her to put together her message
and her logo and those kinds of things that are needed in a marketing plan. So, for you who are thinking about a business
and have not really thought about all that goes into a marketing plan, we can help you
work on that bit by bit as you proceed to develop the overall marketing plan. How do we work with you? We’ve talked a lot in these last few minutes
about what the plan looks like, but what are the actual processes and protocols that NEBA
uses when working with a Ticketholder? First of all, you will be working with an
individual who has experience in developing business plans and has been doing it for a
number of years. We also will have intake process that allows
us to identify if the idea that the individual has for a business model is what we call viable. In other words, can it be done? Does this business have the ability to appeal
to people both as a service or as a product? In other words, will someone buy it? Will someone pay money for that product or
service? We also expect that the individual will have
the ability to commit to the time and the physical hands-on effort to have this business
be successful? Now, you heard Paula tell you that when you
are starting a business SSA in the Trial Work period, we’ll look at how many hours a month
are you working. In the beginning, as with most businesses,
there needs to be some recognition that some time has to be spent on the development of
that business in order to be successful. So, you’re going to have to look at, keep
track of your hours to see how it fits with the hours structure that Paula had indicated,
which is 80 hours a month. We also want to make sure that you have the
physical stamina to do that. So, for the beginning of this process, you
will have a lot of time and opportunity to talk with the NEBA BDC instructor to look
at all of these questions in addition to the questions that you may have about the actual
business. We have other requirements that are much more
practical once we determine that you are a candidate or your business idea is viable. And basically, do you have access to a computer? You’re going to need a computer. Let’s face it; you’re going to be writing
a document that in some cases can be quite substantial, 30 to 40 pages. You’re going to have to be doing work on Excel
spreadsheets so that you can create those financial projections. And right now, I’m going to stop because some
of you are thinking, oh my goodness, I can never do that. That’s untrue. I’ve already told you we’re going to work
with you. We’re going to help you understand how to
use an Excel spreadsheet. We will take the time to get you through that
software, but that it means then that in addition to access to a computer, your computer software
is computer compatible or works with Microsoft Office. We’ve also learned that many times people
believe their cell phone or their tablet can accomplish those things that a computer can
do. That is true in many instances but not when
it comes to doing a business plan. So, what we have found is that many people
can go to their local library and work on your library’s computer. And to help facilitate that, to help people
have that arrangement with their local library, we have developed a letter, we call it the
library letter, that we address to your local library so that you can talk to them about
having a time to work on a computer so that you can talk with us and work on your plan. In all of the cases that we’ve used for our
library letter, we have been successful in getting an individual to work with their local
library to have that computer access. And what is also interesting, we find that
the librarians often end up giving additional assistance once they’re done talking to us
if an individual has forgotten or is still having some awkward moments. So, there are a lot of people out there that
are interested in helping to get folks into the world of self-ownership when and if it’s
something you would like to accomplish. Other requirements that are involved with
this program is not only does your business idea have the ability to be sold to other
people where they pay money for it? Do you have the capacity to, in terms of during
a full time business, be able to do that? Do you have a computer that is accessible
that you can use? But your business plan must also be completed
within 60 hours or six months, whichever comes first. We want people to be able to move forward
with their business idea as quickly as possible so they can start the magic of getting the
business going. Most people can complete their business plan
within four to five months. We will work with you every week for at least
one hour. You will also have homework or an assignment,
as we call it, so that you can take on your own time to think through and work more on
your business concept. So, time in terms of doing the work of writing
the plan is part of the requirement. If you do not complete the plan within those
timelines, NEBA does require a review to see if ongoing support will make a difference,
or additional support, and a person whose plan is still incomplete at 12 months without
just cause may have to reapply to the program. Now, let’s be real; sometimes a disability
flares up; sometimes there’s a need for medical procedures; sometimes a person has to go into
some special rehabilitation situation. All of those types of things that are tied
to the disability are justifiable reasons to have to stop for a while and not work on
the plan. When you’re ready to reconnect and to begin
working on your plan again, then that is what we plan on doing. We plan to keep it going as long as viable,
as long as possible. Well, you know about NEBA. You know that we have been assisting individuals
in the world of self-employment for a number of years. We have been working with the Ticket to Work
program since about 2009. During that time, approximately 316 Ticketholders
have participated in the program. This does not mean that is the number of people
who have inquired to participate in the program. Remember, we had some of those preliminary
requirements that had to be met, but 316 Ticketholders met those requirements at some degree and
participated in the program. Because of the number of circumstances which
can occur, many of our people when they’re writing a business plan, it’s rather interesting,
decide that maybe employment is more their track, and they will shift from being self-employed
to being employed. One of the reason is when you’re doing a business
plan, you do an awful lot of talking about what do you want to do, what do you want to
be, where do you want to go, when do you want to have that happen, and they begin to see
that they can probably do that with employment. About 50% of the folks that start in this
program do move over to supported employment, which is not an uncommon thing to do. It’s just a different form that they didn’t
think that they could do, and then they realized that they can. So, that leaves our population much reduced,
but we still have in our population 129 plans that have been completed over this time because
some people realized their health isn’t adequate enough or other circumstances occur, and they
do not complete the program. We are currently serving Ticketholders in
40 states, and we are serving a live range of individuals with different types of businesses,
as I already mentioned. We’re very, very proud of the folks that have
gone through the program and are no longer receiving Social Security benefits. We have 15 as of, I would say, early November,
who are no longer receiving Social Security benefits, have gone the Trial Work period,
and are doing a very good job of supporting themselves through their business. We have in that population a couple of folks
that I’d like to talk about. We call them our success stories. One of them is Julie. Julie came to us about two years ago. She was interested in a working from home
situation, and Paula had alluded to the fact that you can be an independent contractor
working from home, and that’s exactly what Julie wanted to do. She wanted to be an independent contractor
working from home, and she knew that was self-employment, but she wasn’t too sure about how to go about
it and what to do. And so, we said, well, this is a business,
so do you want to do a business plan so you can figure out what it might cost you, the
kinds of things you might want to consider, and also it might help you in identifying
where your skills as an independent contractor might be marketed to an employer or a company,
in this case, not an employer. So, through that process of analyzing her
skills and how she felt she wanted her business to grow, she was able to identify an industry
where she could be an independent contractor working from home, and Julie has some very
interesting talents. Julie works on the Internet doing research,
finding images based on what a business may need for marketing their product or services. She is what we call a photo image or an image
researcher for people seeking to augment or enhance their marketing message, and that’s
what she does, and this year she earned $70,000 doing that. So, it’s a talent; it’s a business that you
wouldn’t hear much about; maybe never have heard before; but that is the kind of business
that we can assist a person in, working from home as an independent contractor. The most common kind of person doing that
kind of work is usually doing marketing, answering customer service, or being a medical transcriber. But in this case, a very unique case, we have
Julie hunting through the Internet for unique photos that will help other businesses enhance
their marketing. A recent person to get off of her Social Security
benefit is Doris, and Doris opened a dog grooming business. Now, that’s something I think more of you
could relate to. You see dog grooming businesses throughout
your community. And she started very slowly, working at first
in her home, and then she started to build a big enough clientele that she had to find
a shop, a retail location. So, one of the things that Doris did was to
start a PASS plan, and so using the PASS plan, she had a business plan, so she could just
overlay or include that when she submitted her PASS plan. She was able to use the money from her PASS
plan to pay some of the rent on the business and to purchase some of the equipment she
needed to open the dog grooming business. Today, as I’ve already indicated, she is off
of her benefits. She has a thriving dog grooming business. She has a Facebook marketing approach she
uses very vigorously to attract more clients. So, if you’re interested in finding a way
to start a business, check it out, talk with someone, talk to your VR counselor if you’re
with a Vocational Rehab in your area. They may be able to connect you with someone
who does business plans in their area. Check with other ENs and see if that is something
in your area, again, that’s available, or you can contact NEBA on our website, and we
can connect with you and see if that is something that you might want. So, when you look at all of the things that
we’ve talked about today, you’ve got to be wondering, okay, you need [inaudible] help. Your benefits counselor here, your [inaudible],
your [inaudible]; they are a huge resource for you, by the way. We found that our success rate with people
who are doing self-employment ran up significantly when we worked more regularly with a C rep
[phonetic], so keep that thought. So, you can get more information on Ticket
to Work and NEBA by visiting That’s For any kind of questions on Ticket to Work
support, just ask your questions; send us an email at [email protected] I’m going to spell that again for you, [email protected] You can follow NEBA on Facebook at That’s, or join
us on the second Thursday of the month. We have a monthly podcast which really focuses
on all things Ticket to Work and self-employment and supported employment. So, you can join is; you can subscribe, and
we do stream also on our website, which you already have the address for, and our feed
is and that would be There are other resources that are in your
community. You need to find them. They have lots of resources for you and your
business. The Small Business Administration, which is
SBA, they are located somewhere in your community. They have a number of self-employment resources
that can help you find your way from the idea through the business plan out to a source
of financing if you need it. SCORE, S-C-O-R-E is a program of the Small
Business Administration that is free. All of these programs that I’m talking about
are free. Working with NEBA is free. You have SCORE, which is comprised of volunteers
who have a lot of experience in running a business, and they are important to you and
your neighborhood because they know your neighborhood, and they can help you market more effectively. You also can work with your American Job Center,
as I mentioned, your VR office. These are our resources that can provide maybe
additional computer support as well as maybe some training that you might need. We’ve already talked about SCORE, the Service
Corp of Retired Entrepreneurs. It is a nonprofit association. It’s dedicated to helping small businesses
get off the ground. That’s key. You are trying to get off the ground. They also help businesses get to their next
level, to grow, and to attain goals over the period of about three to five years through
education and mentorship. I also mentioned we use SCORE’s business template. You can find a copy of that on; We talked about American Job Centers; they
provide single access points to key federal programs. They are a resource. They’re critical, a local support to help
people find jobs. Remember, I said some of us start writing
a plan and then we decide maybe I’d rather look at a job. They help with identifying those training
programs that you need, and also gain skills in maybe some industries that are out there. Many American Job Centers are also ENs, and
so you should be able to to work with them very, very effectively. We have a nice long website for you, so here
we go,, and all of that spells And last of all, something that we don’t hear
very much as a resource, and this is an important one. You start your business, you are working with
SCORE, and you are able to grow your business, and then you want to move to the next level. Your Small Business Development Center called
SBDCs are critical for that particular grown up step. You know, businesses are like people. They’re young, they’re teenagers, and they’re
older or mature. So, the Small Business Development Center
will work with the more mature business, and they provide assistance to small businesses
in a number of ways that are much easier and more effective than maybe SCORE or someone
like NEBA can do. They work on a much more regional economic
development level. They are tied to the financial sector of businesses,
and they are very much involved with job creation and job retention. So, as a result, when you’re getting ready
to think about employees, this is where you want to go. Small Business Development Centers are usually
located in a college setting or a business office setting, but the best thing to do is
to Google either a Small Business Development Center or the website that we have here,,
and at every state, the first letter of the state will be used with that sbdc. I live in Massachusetts, so we talk about
the msbdc. If you are in Florida, like Paula, you will
have fsbdc. So, is a very key place for
you to find information on your growing business. At this point, I think we’ve pretty much covered
a lot of information about small businesses. I know a lot of you have a lot of questions
at this point; so, Nancy, I’m going to turn it back to you.>>Thank you very much, Colleen. That was excellent information, and I just
want to say that we had somebody in the audience say to please thank you for your support of
[inaudible]; that’s the webinar [inaudible]. So, how wonderful, and thank you very much. So, we have more questions than I know we’re
going to be able to get to, but one that I think is, I want to make sure we get answered
is when someone is in the process of working with Vocational Rehabilitation, should that
person also reach out to NEBA?>>They can do that, but most folk; yes, they
can do that. There’s no question about that. The problem will then be we have to have a
conversation, and this happens all the time, and the intake process for us to make sure
that where they are with their Voc Rebah person or situation has met their current needs because
the Ticket can only be used by either a VR or an EN or another entity. It can’t be used by more than one entity at
a time to assist a Ticketholder. So, we really strive to make sure that they
are getting what they need. When your case is done, we encourage them
to come back. That’s a long yes, but we can.>>Okay. Wonderful. And one more question, you mentioned Supported
Employment Services; can you share a little bit about what NEBAs Supported Services includes?>>Certainly. We provide probably everything that you would
find at any local office in your area except that we aren’t there by your side. So, if you’re looking for resume assistance,
you’re looking for cover letter assistance, if you’re looking how to figure out how do
I apply for a job online because it comes back to computer skills, many times, we will
help walk you through that. We’re a huge advocate of Linkedin. We work really hard to help folks get their
Linkedin account done, work their skills that they’ve identified to be part of their profile,
and then teach them how to leverage their Linkedin presence with the applications that
they’ve submitted so that they have a more immediate connection with an employer. We do mock interviews; we help them with an
interview evaluation, and then we have what’s an after they’re employed. We’re a big believer about being around for
a while. So, whether you’re doing a business plan or
whether you’re employed, we’re going to be with you for at least another 18 to 24 months
so that you will have someone to talk to to take the pressure off because I always tell
folks through my work and employment I don’t want you kicking the boss. Call me and yell at me because sometimes it’s
necessary. But we also want them to know that they are
going to have to comply with some certain SSA processes in terms of reporting, and we’re
right back to that VPQ why, that ripple connection. We want them to know where they are in the
Trial Work period, and so we become a team, and that’s what we do for Supported Employment.>>That’s fantastic. Great information. Thank you again, Colleen. I would love to ask you more questions, but
I know it’s time for me to turn it back over to Brittany Taylor. So, Brittany, back to you.>>Thank you, and just want to echo Nancy
and thank Colleen and Paula again. What a wealth of information you both have
shared today. It, you know, really will help put so many
people on a path forward. I agree with participants that noted “best
webinar ever.” Thank you so much. For those of you that want to learn more,
and I hope and imagine that it’s all of you that have joined today’s webinar. You can subscribe to the Choose Work Blog
and learn more about self-employment, Ticket to Work, work incentives, job search tips,
and there’s so much more on there, and you can sign up for email updates at I hope all of you will take advantage of learning
more and checking out the blog. I do want to take a moment and invite all
of you to join us on our next webinar. I’m going to point out that it is on a different
day. It’s going to be on a Tuesday in December,
on December 12th from 3 to 4:30 p.m. So, that’s next webinar, Tuesday, December
12th, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. And you can register online at,
that’s w-i-s-e, or you can call 1-866-968-7842, or you can reach us via teletype at 1-866-833-2967. And again, for more information, we’ve mentioned
it a couple of times on the webinar today, is the Ticket to Work Help Line, a really
great place to start getting some of your questions answered and start setting you on
the right path, and that number to reach the Ticket to Work Help Line is 1-866-968-7842. And again, via teletype at 1-866-833-2967,
and you can also visit that online at Lots of other ways to get in touch with Ticket
to Work, you can Like us on Facebook at If you want to follow us on Twitter, you can
find us at And if you’d like to check out some videos
on Ticket to Work on YouTube, the place to visit is And to find us on Linkedin, That’s t-i-c-k-e-t dash t-o dash w-o-r-k. We’ve had quite a few questions answered,
and thank you again, Colleen and Paula. We would like to hear what you think of today’s
webinar, and please take a moment to take the webinar survey. After the webinar ends, a link will pop up
through the webinar, or you can visit That’s s-u-r-v-e-y-s backslash w-i-s-e. Thank you so much again, Colleen and Paula. This was just an incredible amount of information
wonderfully laid out and look forward to, hopefully, [inaudible] of you may be starting
self-employment and starting your own business. Thank you everyone for joining us today, and
we look forward to having you all join up next month on December 12th. Thank you everyone.

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