New England Business Associates Salutes Client Economic Advancement

Economic development is often defined as reaching an increased level of financial stability. For most people that translates to working and being financially self-supporting. Individuals receiving government benefits are encouraged by society and other factors to stay on funded benefits.  To work towards self-sufficiency and stop government funded benefits requires a great deal of support and information from a wide range of resources. 

At its April 16th, NEBA Salutes, dinner, New England Business Associates (NEBA) recognized two individuals who have attained the unique status of ending government funded benefits.  These individuals made decisions to work towards financial self-sufficiency in the competitive workforce.  

Sandra is working with a major health organization and looking forward to the purchase of her first car.  Jose is using his MBA for the first time in over a decade to work in a business setting that solves and monitors complex financial situations.  Both individuals shared their story with a group of other individuals also seeking to attain financial selfsufficiency.  

Individuals receiving Social Security benefits and seeking information regarding the Ticket to Work program should go to http://www.chooseworkttw.net.  NEBA is a TTW agency and can provide individual information on this program.

This event was funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and is part of a program to support Massachusetts residents in attaining economic sustainability through employment or self-employment.

 

The Power of Your Vote

As we consider the outcome of Iowa’s January caucus and the New Hampshire primary, the noise of the 2012 presidential campaign continues to grow. The critical point to remember in the election process is your vote matters.

Add to that the vote of family members and friends and your vote grows in importance exponentially. Your one vote is now many votes. This happens when the issues and how they affect your rights are understood.

Now is the time to know what benefits and issues matter to you.

Have you considered the number of benefits you presently receive and what might change in your life if they were changed?

Do you know how your elected representatives voted on bills that affect you and your family?

There is time between now and the fall elections to learn how candidates have performed in the past and who might be the best candidate going forward. Your local newspaper reports on the voting record of candidates. This information is also online. Save this information so that you can learn the trends or regular voting patterns of your elected officials.

On what committees do your legislators serve? Do these committees affect you directly?

Present conditions might be so discouraging or confusing that not voting seems to be the best solution. If a person chooses not to vote they  have no right to complain about a legislator’s voting record or the situation in general.

While it may seem very early to be having this conversation, it is a conversation worth having at any time. Understanding the issues takes time. Starting now will give you, your family and friends time to better understand what the candidates support. Then you can make an informed vote.

The presidential election fills much of the media’s attention. Often the information focuses on the candidate’s behavior, their past, rather than current issues.  Media focus on party affiliation can also hide or confuse what the candidate(s) really endorse.

State and local issues are important and not always featured in the media. It requires time to find this information and learn how it connects with the national issues.

Where to start? First, are you a registered voter? Go to your local municipal office and see if you are registered to vote. Once you have registered to vote, read local papers regularly, watch the news and discuss your questions with others. Be informed. Encourage others to do the same.

The quality of your neighborhood, your community, your state and your country may depend on your vote. It is a powerful right and responsibility.

Listen to and read about the candidates during the next 10 months. This is time enough to become an informed voter. And be sure to vote.

Colleen M. Moynihan,  M Ed. CLU, CMFC
Director, NEBA Business Development Center

About “Ticket to Work”

Several images come to mind when I think of tickets: A multitude of parking tickets left on my windshield; concert tickets for some amazing (and some awful) memories of live music; and baseball tickets for summer nights at the ballpark.

At NEBA, when someone mentions tickets they are usually referring to a program of the Social Security Administration called “Ticket to Work”.  In this program, tickets are sent to individuals with disabilities when they begin receiving SSI or SSDI disability insurance payments. With their ticket, recipients are able to retain the services of a registered employment network (EN) to help them return to work.

An EN is a private organization (can be a for-profit or nonprofit), government agency, or employer that has agreed to work with the Social Security Administration to provide employment services. When a ticket is assigned to NEBA, we meet with the ticket holder to set goals and develop an employment work plan. The plan helps to determine the work timeline, training needs, and income goals and requirements.

Because a disability check can be one of the few constants in an individual’s (or even a family’s) income, the prospect of losing this benefit can be frightening. The Ticket to Work program is designed to reduce this fear by allowing each ticket holder to return to work for a trial work period. During this time, they are able to determine their ability to consistently achieve a monthly income benchmark while still receiving full disability benefits. If they consistently meet the benchmark, they will be able to earn more money and improve their financial stability. If they are unable to consistently meet the minimum income requirements, they are able to retain their disability benefits.

The Ticket to Work program is also beneficial to our economy. When someone in their 20s or 30s returns to work and permanently stops receiving their disability benefit checks, taxpayers save at least $500,000. The government benefits from increased tax revenue, and employers benefit from the expanded pool of qualified candidates.

We’re all very quick to get on the government’s case when they do something wrong, but we should also give credit when the government produces a beneficial program such as Ticket to Work.

Eric Fiedler, NEBA Outreach & Development Coordinator

The NEBA Business Development Center and Self-Employment

 

Who might be the next Donald Trump?

For the NEBA Business Development Center (BDC) that person could be any one of the 30-plus entrepreneurs who have completed a business plan through our program.

Since 2007, 83 individuals have explored the possibility of starting a business through the NEBA program. Did they all complete the self-employment path?  No.  But each individual did discover what the right path might be for becoming self-supporting. The 39 individuals that made the commitment to own a business and become self-employed are striving to be self-supporting and self-directed.

How did these individuals become self-employed?

The BDC offers assistance to people with disabilities to establish their own business. The program provides entrepreneurial training from the development of a business concept, the writing of a business plan to assisting, as needed, in the actual implementation of the business.

The program started by serving five individuals with a spectrum of disability challenges, and now serves 51 active participants. Direct service hours have expanded from 50 hours in the first year to 1,122 hours in FY 2010-2011. To date 39 plans have been written.

Program participants come by referral and as “walk-ins”. Most are Social Security beneficiaries using their Ticket to Work benefit. The goal of the BDC program fits perfectly with the goal of the Ticket to Work program; to assist participants in being self-supporting.

Once accepted into the BDC program the participant begins a series of weekly meetings that continue for an average of 60 hours to complete a SCORE-based plan. (SCORE is a program of the Small Business Administration to assist new business owners).

The BDC curriculum develops a participant’s financial literacy based on managing business operating costs, monitoring cash flow and developing business equity. Computer competency, using Word and Excel, is another outcome of the program. Participants work to develop their business idea, complete a business plan and implement their business concept.

The course begins with the development of the business financials. Operating expense information gives the participant an understanding of what it costs to run the business they have in mind. Expense information reveals the product or service price needed to cover costs. Participants develop three years of financials and the narrative to explain the financials.

In the current economic environment self-employment growth from all sectors of the population is a critical component to the revival of the general economy. Ironically, any surge in new business development has historically been during times of economic recession.  This is true for the disabled as well as the non-disabled.

If you know anyone with a disability that is interested in being self-supporting, share this blog. The NEBA website www.nebaworks.com provides information on both supported employment and self-employment.  Both paths lead to being self-supporting.

How can more individuals with disabilities participate in the current economic revival?

Explore the possibility of self-employment through a personal assessment.

Why is being self-supporting a benefit to all?

When the entire community is self-supporting, there is more for everyone.

Colleen M Moynihan,  M Ed,  CLU, CMFC
Director, NEBA Business Development Center