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Benefits Specialist

Full time position working Monday -Friday 9-5.

Overall function:  The Benefits Specialist position is designed to work with participants, HOPE Program Employment Specialists and others by contract to assist job seekers in obtaining a complete and accurate benefits analysis that will enhance their ability to fulfill career objectives.
Responsibilities:   Engages participants and establishes trusting, collaborative relationships directed toward the goal of competitive employment in integrated job settings.

•    Serve as the HOPE Program expert on SSA work incentives, including Ticket to Work, linkages to the SSA field offices, SSA Benefits Planning, and Employment Networks.
•    Assist SSA beneficiaries in understanding the impact of earnings on SSA and other public assistance programs.
•    Effectively present information to the public (participants, business groups, disability groups, other agencies) on employment services, Social Security Incentives, and benefits of employment of persons with disabilities.
•    Serve as a resource on services that impact the employment or employability of people with disabilities such as health care options, transportation, and housing support.
•    Build collaborative partnerships with representatives from the SSA, Easter Seals, Nebraska Health and Human Services and other public assistance programs to provide better opportunity for informed choice.
•    Produce accurate written and verbal answers to inquiries on participant status and referral.
•    Understand and comply with regulations for sharing that is relevant to each partner agency.
•    Participate in ongoing program and educational trainings and events that apply.
•    Carries out other duties as assigned.
 
Duties include:

•    Conducts in-depth and timely interviews to obtain and evaluate information about a participant’s situation including background information, disability, employment and earnings, resources, federal, state, and local benefits, health insurance, work expenses, and other supports. 
•    Assist program participants in providing resources for public benefits programs and accessing these applications using Government websites. 
•    Provide information to community agencies and professionals about services provided.
•    Verify benefits for participants by requesting Benefits Planning Queries for the Social Security and by utilizing the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services AccessNebraska Line.
•    Assist participants in reporting earned and unearned income to benefits programs in compliance with program regulations and to prevent beneficiary overpayments.
•    Promote benefits literacy by educating participants about the importance of responding to verification requests and accurate income reporting.
•    Complete follow-up surveys for participants who have previously received a benefits analysis.
•    Researches, verifies, and interprets complex laws, policies, and regulations regarding benefits, including SSDI, SSI, Medicare/Medicaid, private health insurance, housing subsidies, SNAP, and any other federal, state, and local supports.  
•    Condenses complex information into a teachable format (written report) for participants to understand and use. 
•    Maintains internal and external confidentiality. 
•    Meets all documentation and productivity standards as identified by the organization. 
•    Completes certification and other benefits planning training, including annual recertification. 
•    Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:   Education and/or experience equivalent to undergraduate degree in mental health, social services, business, personnel management, or vocational services.  Knowledge of disability programs such as Social Security benefits, work incentives, eligibility, and regulations.  Experience with people with behavioral health issues, experience with vocational services, and knowledge of the work world are preferred.  Ability to work as an effective team player is essential.

•    Have personal experience and knowledge of recovery; and a belief that everyone can work
•    A sincere interest in the welfare of their peers, including the ability to see each person as a unique individual
•    A willingness to learn the supported employment model, recovery model and adhere to MHA mission and core principles
•    A willingness to share their own recovery experience
•    An ability to flexibly engage people based on their level of receptivity and individual needs, acknowledging that even the same person may need different types of peer-based services at different points in their recovery process.
•    Have demonstrated proficiency in reading and writing;
•    Be able to establish trusting relationships with their peers and community partners.
•    Has proven math, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills, including the ability to interpret Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, and administrative code about public benefits. 
•    Able to communicate effectively about complex information with persons with a wide range of communication styles and backgrounds. 
•    Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, while maintaining a positive attitude and providing exemplary customer service. 
•     Ability to work independently and/or as a team and to carry out assignments to completion within parameters of instructions given, prescribed routines, and standard accepted practices. 
•    Be able to provide direct peer support services.
•    Be able to work evenings and weekends.
•    Have good knowledge of the city’s public transit system.
•    Be able to use computer to record services or be willing to learn.
•    Be able to complete benefits trainings within 12 months of hire Must be able pass federal clearance screening by the Social Security Administration. 
•    Complete documentation and return phone calls in a timely manner.

GENERAL AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY

It is the responsibility of each MHA-NE employee to:

A.    Treat all participants with dignity and respect, consider participant needs, and advocate for the people we serve.

B.    Maintain confidentiality of agency, participants, employee and salary information.

C.    Promote the human dignity, rights, safety and well-being of program participants served professionally and ethically handle agency and participants money and property.

D.    Fulfill all responsibilities as an ethical reporter.

E.    Display a positive attitude towards program participants, community partners, and the agency.

F.    Demonstrate good communication with program participants, supervisors, peers, outside resources and family/guardians.

G.    Demonstrate good attendance

H.    Punctually attend all assigned meetings, in-services and trainings.

I.    Demonstrate involvement as a team member.

J.    Adhere to all applicable regulations, laws, policies, procedures, and know and understand your job description.

K.    Submit paperwork and meet job responsibility deadlines as assigned.

L.    Maintain all required approvals/licensures/certifications.

M.    Maintain a good driving record

N.    Position will contain medium physical work consisting of exertion of up to seventy
(70) pounds of force occasionally, exerting up to twenty (20) pounds of force frequently and exerting up to ten (10) pounds of force often to move objects. This position consists of a combination of sitting, standing, or walking.

O.    Collaboratively work with and promote all programs of MHA

P. Other duties as assigned.
 

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