There is a huge myth flying around the I/DD field that can potentially sabotage an individual’s path to independence. How many of you have heard this statement when the discussion of employment comes up… “Oh be careful, if I were you I would not explore employment because they’ll lose all their benefits”… or, “they can only work a maximum of 10 hours a week or they will lose their SSI and Medicaid”. Neither of these statements are correct. One of the problems I see when it comes to this subject is some people know just enough to be dangerous. This is where a lot of half truths, and misinformation gets thrown around on a daily basis.
The truth is that everyone’s circumstances are different and will bring about different outcomes when it comes to working and it’s affect on government benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers multiple Work Incentives for both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Work Incentives are a way to get more of the individual’s cash benefit back each month through using things like Impairment Related Work Expenses, Subsidies, ABLE accounts, etc. Now, I sometimes joke that you need to know “the secret handshake” to tap into these incentives, but that is just my sarcasm kicking in. Actually, there are individuals who are specially trained and credentialed by a program approved by the SSA who specialize in this very thing. They are called Credentialed Work Incentives Practitioners (C-WIP).
I, in fact, am a Credentialed Work Incentives Practitioner, and received my credentials from only one of two universities in the country to whom SSA recognizes and accepts as programs that are rigorous enough to offer a legit certification. I assist individuals and/or their families on a daily basis to review and analyze their benefits history, current benefits, then provide an understanding of how different scenarios will affect benefits in the future. My goal is to work with people before it becomes a crisis situation, such as receiving a letter where one needs to repay Social Security $11,000 in 60 days for an “oversight” that Social Security didn’t catch until a year later (true story!). I love to help individuals come up with a solid action plan to avoid situations like this ahead of time, however I can also assist if you do receive a scary email like that too!
I can provide this service anywhere in the country! However, if you live in Missouri and have a Support Coordinator, I can offer this service under a Medicaid Waiver. In addition to Benefits Planning, we also offer a wide variety of supports from Transition Planning to adulthood, Alternatives to Guardianship, IEP Coaching, and much more! Come visit us and reach out for a free consultation. Look forward to helping in any way we can!
Jennifer Hulme is the Founder/Executive Director of Hulme Resources Inc., a non profit 501(c)(3) based in the Kansas City area. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hulme Resources Inc. and Copper Financial are not affiliated.