The Social Security Administration launched a new demonstration project known as the Promoting Opportunities Demonstration or POD with beneficiary enrollments beginning November, 2017. SSA will be implementing POD in select counties throughout the state of Maryland; one of eight states chosen to participate in the demonstration. Eligible beneficiaries will be recruited by mail and are invited to enroll in the demonstration, though participation is voluntary. 15,000 beneficiaries will be enrolled in POD and the demonstration will run from November, 2017 through June, 2021. Participants will be randomly assigned to either a control group in which the typical rules and work incentives for SSDI beneficiaries apply or to one of two test groups in which unique POD rules will apply. What are these rules and what are the advantages of enrolling in POD?

The Promoting Opportunities Demonstration will test a benefit offset based on earnings. Under traditional rules, an SSDI beneficiary would lose their entire cash benefit if earnings are above the current Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level of $1,170 for 2017 following the end of a 9 month Trial Work Period. Under POD rules, this “cash cliff” is eliminated and replaced with a benefit offset of $1 for every $2 earned above a benchmark amount ($840 for 2017). So, a POD enrolled beneficiary subject to one of the test group rules may be able to earn more than the traditional SGA limit and still keep some of his or her benefit. POD rules enable some beneficiaries the opportunity to earn more and still keep some of their benefit, removing the fear of losing benefits and encouraging a higher earnings potential. It also offers simplified reporting methods for reporting earnings. Not everyone may benefit from enrolling in POD, however. Beneficiaries who have not yet used their Trial Work Period may be worse off.  But individuals interested in enrolling can take comfort in knowing that they are able to un-enroll at any time if they choose without penalty. Un-enrollment will place those beneficiaries back under traditional work rules. Beneficiaries invited to enroll in POD should contact a POD Enrollment Specialist at 888-771-9188 to discuss the demonstration in more detail and determine if POD is a good decision for them.

If you or a beneficiary you work with receive an invitation to enroll in POD, please contact them to find out more. This is a legitimate Social Security demonstration that may be a good fit and a great opportunity for some beneficiaries who are able and interested in working at higher earnings levels! Click here for a brochure on the Promoting Opportunities Demonstration (POD).