Connect-Ability

This will be a short post as I want to turn your attention to something important.

Here in Connecticut we are a Community Rehab Provider (CRP) for the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS).  We also partner with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)  and CT Works/DOL (Department of Labor).  There are acronyms for everything, I know.

It’s a lot to keep track of, but there is a great resource which NEBA uses that describes the wide range of services and providers available to the people of Connecticut. This website is: http://www.connect-ability.com

Take a moment to see what this website has to offer. It has personal success stories, a Career Center, an informational section for potential employers for commonly asked questions regarding hiring people with disabilities, and much more.

Happy reading! 🙂

 Timothy Blonsky, Senior Employment Specialist, Connecticut

Advertisements

What Does “Employment First” Mean?

In 2009 and 2010, Connecticut and Massachusetts joined several other states across the country in adopting an “Employment First” policy. This policy establishes that for adults with disabilities, integrated, individual employment is the preferred service option and optimal outcome. NEBA is a strong supporter of this policy, and we have been achieving many of its goals since our inception.

In Massachusetts, the stated goals of Employment First are as follows:

    •  Achieve Integrated Individual Employment. Integrated employment has always been the focus of NEBA’s service model.
    • Offer Comprehensive Self-Employment Support Services: NEBA’s Business Development Center, one of the most extensive self-employment programs for individuals with disabilities in the country, enables individuals who are serious about starting their own businesses to write a business plan and receive ongoing support for up to three years.
    • Achieve Employment Based on Individual Preferences and Needs: NEBA’s individualized approach helps the individuals we serve find and remain in the job they desire. If the individual lacks a core competency that is required for the position they want, NEBA’s job skills training program helps them build their necessary skills.
    • Place an Emphasis on Natural Supports: NEBA works with employers to identify natural supports that will enable the individual to successfully complete their job duties.
    • Maximize Work Hours: NEBA believes that the optimal employment status should be one where individuals are working the maximum number of hours they are capable of working.
    • Use Community Settings for Non-Work Hours: In additional to employment services, NEBA works with a variety of community centers to provide opportunities for volunteerism and other activities that can result in greater inclusion in community life.

Implementing these goals results in measurable increases in employment of individuals with disabilities within the general workforce who are earning minimum wage or higher with benefits. NEBA is currently working with our legislature, employers, and community partners so that we can all more effectively make the goals of the Employment First policy a reality.

 Ready or Not …

 Ready or Not Here Comes April 15th

 OK , OK  it’s only February and the tax filing deadline is still two months away. 

 But do you have everything you need to complete your tax return? By this time you should have received your W-2 from your employer. If you have not received this document, give your employer a call. If you are an employer those statements were due to employees by January 31st.  You have a little more time with 1099 statements.

  This is an excellent time to look at all income and allowable deductions for the past year.  For persons who are self-employed determining all of your business deductions as well as allowable medical deductions is a first step in managing your finances and reducing taxable income. If you are employed, your allowable deductions are stated on the 1040 form.

 Some of you use the EZ form and deductions are not a consideration.  Since most Social Security beneficiaries do have medical deductions, using the standard tax return may be a better option.   Doing both forms may tell you which way provides a refund or reduced taxes.

 Individuals with income from Social Security (SSA) for a disability should be reporting earned income to SSA on a regular basis.  Doing this every month means there is an up to date history of your earnings on file. If the answer is anything but yes start now to report your earnings to SSA, this should be a priority for this year. 

 If you are employed mail copies of your pay stubs each month to the local SSA office.  Keep the original copies for your files.  Send the pay stubs registered mail so that it is signed for by a Social Security employee proving that it was sent and received.  Self Employed individuals have a different process.  A copy of your tax return is required each year.  When mailing this information, send it registered mail as well.

 Filing a tax return shows you how much income you have earned this past year.   Many individuals want to earn enough money to be self-sufficient and financially successful as possible.  Reaching this goal will have an impact on SSA benefits.  Keeping records will assist in accurate outcomes.

  If you are receiving Social Security (SSA) benefits you may want to know how your benefits are affected by working.   To obtain information specific to you and your SSA benefits, contact your Bene Plan specialist.  These informed professionals are part of the Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program.  Your local Social Security office can provide the correct contact information.

 For those of you who have filed your tax return for this year, congratulations!  Start now to keep organized files for wages and deductions so next year will be easier!

Job Creation vs. Job Carving

It’s not uncommon to hear the term “job creation” in everyday life. With today’s volatile economy, jobs are one of the main topics of the 2012 presidential election. With unemployment around 8.5%, everyone has ideas on how to create jobs. Whether your preferred job creation tactic is tax breaks, stimulus funds, or good old-fashioned education access, people need to work to live successfully. When it comes to job creation, NEBA is no different. NEBA also uses a strategy called “job carving” to place job seekers in successful positions. What’s the difference?

Job Creation

Job creation is just as it states. A position is drawn up based upon an employer’s need. Job descriptions are created, a salary is set, and someone is hired to do the job. NEBA meets with employers and gets to know them and their business. What are their needs? What are their barriers to further success? How can a NEBA job seeker help them meet their goals? If these questions are not asked, we cannot match the right person to the right job, and we are therefore not doing our job.

Job Carving

Job carving is based upon the same concept as job creation, but is a bit different, in that it is usually based upon a position that already exists and is vacant. When meeting with an employer, NEBA may have a job seeker in mind that could benefit the employer. However, sometimes, not all of the tasks are aligned with the job seeker’s abilities. Perhaps the person can lift 40 pounds when the job requires 60. Maybe 30 minutes of a 6-hour shift involves heavy typing, and that’s not someone’s forté. This is where job carving comes into play. What if NEBA could help an employer figure out how to integrate that one task amongst other staff? This way, the barrier would be cleared, and NEBA’s applicant could confidently perform all other tasks the employer is looking for. Essentially, the job is being “carved” to cater to the job seeker. Employers still hire one person for the job they needed complete, and are supporting NEBA’s mission and community integration in the process!

Carving A Creation

Sometimes, job carving leads to job creation. Working with a Springfield Walgreens, we were able to take the extraneous tasks of cleaning restrooms, sweeping the store, washing windows and doors, etc., away from staff who needed to focus on customer service, and create a new position for one of our job seekers whose employment goal was to keep a store neat and tidy. Nearly 7 years later, that gentleman is still gainfully employed and has many natural supports in place to secure his independence.

Whether it’s job creation or job carving, NEBA’s mission of putting people to work in their communities is a win-win.

–Ryan Aldrich, Senior Employment Consultant: Connecticut Services