What are Work Incentives?
Special rules make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments and Medicare or Medicaid. Social Security calls these rules “work incentives.” In addition to the Social Security programs there are also work incentives or special rules for other entitlement programs; such as Housing Programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Telephonic Assistance, Student Loan Discharge Programs, etc. Please see the following examples of rules that can apply under each program.
Work Incentives Planning (aka benefits counseling) is a critical element of IPS Supported Employment service delivery and is one of the eight principles of IPS. It is recommended that people receive benefits counseling from a certified work incentives counselor prior to starting work, and again after beginning a job, in order to understand how work will impact their benefits and assist with decisions around increasing hours or pursuing promotional/career advancement opportunities. The intention of work incentives planning is to assist people in achieving financial goals and independence.
Everyone receiving IPS services should be offered assistance with work incentives planning for good fidelity to this item. However, not everyone receives disability or needs-based benefits. IPS specialists routinely meet with mental health practitioners and their clients who have not applied for disability benefits. The purpose of the meeting is to help people consider employment rather than benefits.
Depending on their level of training, IPS Employment Specialists may also assist people themselves by providing basic benefits planning assistance, and assistance with accessing work incentives, while a person waits to receive services from a certified work incentives counselor. We hope that the following information will be helpful to IPS programs in assisting people with identifying resources available to help people achieve their financial goals.