This is about what a Disability Benefits Planner is.
We at Unpacking Disability are NOT disability benefits planners. We are only taking information that we know from personal experience or research and pulling it together for you.
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What Is a Disability Planner?
A Disability Benefits Planner is a trained professional who can help you understand and manage your disability benefits. A Disability Benefits Planner does NOT work FOR Social Security Administration.
The reason why a Disability Benefits Planner is important is because our benefits are intricate and complicated. A Disability Benefits Planner has studied the tapestry that our benefits system is woven of, and they know which threads can help people in a particular situation “get ahead” or do more with their benefits. They are always aware of the threads that, when pulled, can unravel the whole piece. They know what type of what you have and what that even means, and how to apply it to what and if that and that happens, wherefore dost thou go.
In other words, they can:
give advice on the type of benefits you receive
let you know how much money you can make without getting penalized
what types of programs there are out there to help you pay for things that are not possible with just SSI/SSDI
navigate employment programs
understand the parameters of Medicaid/Medicare
help you with ABLE, and Special Needs Trusts
A good Disability Benefits Planner is worth their weight in gold.
The Benefits System is a complex beast they have mastered, made their own, and are showing us how to ride.
But it’s very important to remember that an inexperienced Disability Benefits Planner or one who doesn’t know their stuff can mess you up in profound ways, like BAD, REALLY REALLY BAD. If they give you bad advice on something as crucial as your medical coverage, savings or disability benefits, it can take years (and deep pockets) to recover from.
Therefore, you need to know that not all Benefits Planners are created equal. There is a real mixed batch out there, and it is absolutely crucial that you do your homework on what kind of Disability Benefits Planner you are connecting with.
Researching Your Potential Benefits Planner
Questions to ask while researching your Planner:
What is their reputation like in local disability networks?
Have you seen them on LinkedIn? Poke around online to see their connections
Did you meet and do an initial interview with them?
Find out where their certification is from
How long they have been been working as a Disability Benefits Planner?
How many clients they have successfully helped, in what degree (what complexity)?
Do they have testimonials? (take this with a grain of salt though, unless/until the word-of-mouth testimonials stack up so high you can’t see the other side)
→ YOU MUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON YOUR PLANNER!! ←
Following a Planner’s advice can radically transform your life for good or for bad, so you want to make sure you are transforming it in the direction you want to go.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.