Document Type

Occasional Paper

Publication Date

Fall 10-2017


Employment, Disabilities, Career Centers, Tools for Inclusion, ThinkWork


A primary barrier to employment of individuals with disabilities is concerns over the impact of earnings from employment on public benefits. These benefits include cash benefits from Social Security, health coverage via Medicaid and Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), subsidized housing, and others. The Social Security Administration funds Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) programs to provide benefits counseling to individuals with disabilities. The purpose of WIPA services is to address any questions or concerns Social Security beneficiaries have regarding the impact of earnings on benefits, and to encourage them to pursue employment. However, the availability of WIPA services is limited. To expand benefits assistance, DEI grant funds enhanced access to WIPA services from BenePlan at UMass Medical School. CWICs (Community Work Incentive Counselors) from BenePlan provided benefits counseling to DEI participants who were Social Security beneficiaries. (For the purposes of this publication, we will refer to CWICs as “benefit specialists.”) This brief discusses the impact of benefits counseling, including the enhanced benefits counseling funded by DEI, on individual’s efforts to become successfully employed.


This is the first brief in a series of 5. It was originally published here.


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