In June of 2018, I created the Metro NYC Autism Economy page as we are starting to see jobs for the Developmentally Disabled community. This also raised a number of questions as the wages could be a detriment for benefit programs that are in place today for my son and many in our population. 

Autism Speaks came out with this video and frequently asked questions below to ease concerns about disability benefits. It's not perfect, but it is a really nice step in the right direction. 

What are some of my options to keep social security and work? 

Here are some examples of work incentives that you can consider:

Ticket to Work (TTW)

The TTW Program is an innovative program that can connect you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job or maintain success while you are working. It is a free and voluntary service. If you choose to participate, you will receive services such as career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and job placement and training from authorized Ticket to Work service providers. Learn more here.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

Social Security can deduct the cost of certain items, such as transportation services,  medical devices, etc., that are directly related to your disability and you must have to work. This means that when Social Security measures your income compared to the benefit limit, they will subtract the cost of these expenses. Learn more here

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

A PASS allows you to set-aside expenses related to achieving a work goal. These expenses may include start-up funding for a business, a vocational assessment, training, etc. Social Security does not count the income you set aside when they calculate your SSI payment amount or eligibility for SSI. For example, a PASS Must be specific to achieve a detailed work.  Learn more here.

Expedited Reinstatement (EXR)

If you find employment that causes you to lose your benefits and you lose your job for some reason, you may be able to have your benefits started again right away through a request for Expedited Reinstatement. To qualify, you must apply within five years of losing your Social Security Disability benefits due to gainful employment. Learn more here.

What is the Medicaid Buy-In program?

This program allows workers with disabilities who have earnings that exceed traditional Medicaid rules to “buy in” to Medicaid coverage. Ideally, it means workers with disabilities do not need to choose between healthcare and work. Learn more here

Can someone help me understand my options?

Yes! There are a couple of free resources available to help you through this process.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects, where you can meet with Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs). CWICs are benefits counselors who are trained and certified by Social Security to help you make informed choices about work.

CWICs can help make sure you have the right information for success. They will help you:

  • understand the impact of earnings on all of the benefits you receive
  • know which Social Security Work Incentives you’re entitled to
  • make a successful transition to financial independence

Call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY).  Learn more here.

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) organizations, offer free legal help and advocacy assistance during your search for employment. They can advise you on challenges you might face such as:

  • requesting job accommodations
  • protecting your rights to housing and transportation to and from work
  • accessing services from community organizations
  • understanding conditions of your employment

Call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY).  Learn more here.