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Work Incentives Counseling, Moving SSA Beneficiaries Toward Financial Independence

Nationally and locally, many people with disabilities who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are interested in becoming employed, but they often have fears that cause them to avoid pursuing employment or limit the amount of work for which they are capable. Utilizing the work incentives, which are built into SSA benefits, beneficiaries have the opportunity to attempt success in the workplace and/or gradually work toward a higher level of income.

So what are some of the common myths about the impact of work on benefits? At AHEDD, we often hear that people believe they will lose their benefits after beginning work. Others are concerned that they will need to reapply for benefits if they are successful in replacing their cash payments and later become unable to work due to their disability.

While everyone’s situation is unique and requires an expert to assess the specifics of their current circumstances, these myths are often not true for everyone. We know there may be some exceptions, but agencies with certified experts can help beneficiaries make good decisions about their future based on knowledge. AHEDD wants everyone to work to his or her full potential and reap the rewards of increased financial independence and inclusion in the workplace.

In 2001, SSA began providing funding for such guidance on work and benefits. Today this program is known as the Work Incentives Planning Assistance (WIPA) program. AHEDD is a WIPA grantee.1 The delivery of such work incentives counseling within PA has been expanded through sponsorship from The PEW Charitable Trust, the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), and others.

Beneficiaries, who want to seek employment or increase their earnings, should first contact SSA’s Ticket to Work Help Line. This Help Line can help with general questions and refer beneficiaries to expert agencies funded by SSA across the country. Please contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 866-833-2967 (TTY).

For more information about Work Incentives Counseling and AHEDD’s expertise, visit www.ahedd.org, call 866-902-4333 ext. 90197, and/or email ssaworkincentives@ahedd.org.

1 This article is funded through a Social Security cooperative agreement, at U.S. taxpayer expense. Although Social Security reviewed this document for accuracy, it does not constitute an official Social Security communication.

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