What is a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) or benefits planner?


By: Lesly Lopez

If you receive Social Security benefits and you have a job or are looking for one, there are specially trained professionals known as Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) to help you make sense of complex employment and benefit-related issues.

What is a CWIC?

A highly skilled and rigorously trained cadre of Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) provide individual counseling to beneficiaries seeking employment and intensive follow-up services to ensure that they are using the work incentives appropriately. CWICS provide confidential services to people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). CWICs educate beneficiaries on how employment will affect their public benefits such as SSI, SSDI, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidized housing and food stamps.
CWICs are funded through the Social Security Administration grant called WIPA, Work Incentives Planning and Assistance. CWICs are not SSA employees. However, they do serve SSI and SSDI beneficiaries, including young adults who are transitioning from school to work.

What a CWIC can do for you?

• Help you understand how working and earning wages will affect your public benefits
• Provide ongoing assistance to help you manage your benefits as you transition into employment or increase your earnings
• Provide information on available education, training, and employment services
• Help develop and implement PASS Plans and other Work Incentives that assist you to achieve your employment goal
• Understand the rules of specific Work Incentives and how they apply to you
• Decide whether the Ticket to Work program is right for you
• Understand the potential benefits of employment as a person who receives disability benefits from Social Security while dispelling the myths about working
• Analyze how work and earnings may impact your Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), health care, and other public benefits
• Understand the services provided by a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency or an Employment Network (EN), and how they might fit best with your needs
• Teach about the work incentives from SSA to beneficiaries and community partners.
• enhance self-sufficiency
• ensure informed choices,
• get rid of fear in pursuing employment
• problem solving and advocacy,
• benefits analysis and advisement/benefits support, planning/benefits management and
• Information and referral about other resources available to you in the community.

For additional questions please call the TTW help line at 1-866-968-7842 / 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00AM – 8:00PM EST. For general inquiries, you may e-mail support@chooseworkttw.net.

Disability: The Market You’re Missing: Incentives for Business


By: Rachel Goldstein

Recently the Small Business Committee of the Coral Rachel Goldstein Gables Chamber of Commerce presented a seminar ‘Disability: The Market You’re Missing’. I was one of several panelists at the seminar who explained to small businesses how to best serve customers, clients and employees with disabilities. As an attorney, most of the questions directed to me were about the legal obligations of businesses with the underlying theme “What can I do so I do not get sued?” While that is certainly a loaded question, I am going to write a three-part series addressing some of the most commonly asked questions by businesses.

Oftentimes people as well as businesses approach things by thinking ‘what is in it for me?’ so I am going to start there. Individuals with disabilities are potential customers like everyone else however they are frequently overlooked by businesses trying to bring in new customers or develop their business. People with disabilities have often been excluded from everyday activities like shopping at a grocery store and going to a restaurant with friends and want to frequent businesses that welcome customers with disabilities as well as those that employ individuals with disabilities.

Businesses that not only comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but are welcoming and have features that are usable by individuals with disabilities will get new customers who become repeat customers.

In addition to the potential for new customers, there are tax incentives for businesses to help them cover the costs of accommodations and those costs associated with making the businesses accessible. There is an annual tax credit for small businesses that make their businesses accessible or improve accessibility for persons with disabilities (IRS Code Section 44, Disabled Access Credit) and there is an annual tax deduction for businesses of all sizes for expenses incurred to remove physical, structural, and transportation (barriers in their vehicles) for persons with disabilities at the workplace (IRS Code Section 190, Barrier Removal).

Small businesses that in the previous year earned a maximum of $1 million in revenue or had 30 or fewer full-time employees are eligible for the tax credit. The tax credit is available every year and can be used by small businesses for costs such as those incurred from obtaining sign language interpreters for employees or customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, printing materials in accessible formats, purchasing adaptive equipment and in the modification of equipment or from removing barriers by widening a doorway or installing a ramp. Businesses of all sizes may take advantage of the tax deduction, which is also available every year, and can be used for a variety of costs to make a facility or a vehicle owned or leased for use in the business more accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. Examples of expenses that the tax deduction can be used for include those associated with providing accessible parking spaces, ramps and curb cuts and providing telephones, water fountains, and restrooms that are accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs.

For more information on tax incentives for businesses to help cover costs of accommodations and to make their businesses accessible for people with disabilities, visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/ietoolkit/publications/186.pdf.

Panelists Will Beckham, Bonnie Blaire, Rachel Goldstein, Brenda Lampon and Lieutenant Colonel Tony Colmenares pose for a picture at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce seminar.
Will Beckham, Bonnie Blaire, Rachel Goldstein, Brenda Lampon and Lieutenant Colonel Tony Colmenares.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects


By: Lesly Quin

WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from SSA to provide all Social Security and SSI disability head shot of Lesly Quin beneficiaries (including transition-to-work aged youth) with free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Each WIPA project has counselors called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) who:

Provide work incentives planning and assistance to our beneficiaries with disabilities to assist them in achieving financial independence;

Conduct outreach efforts to those beneficiaries (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or state employment support programs; and

Work in cooperation with Federal, state, and private agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities.

If you are one of the many SSDI or SSI disability beneficiaries who want to work, a WIPA project can help you understand the employment supports that are available to you and enable you to make informed choices about work and achieving financial independence.

If you would like to reach out to Lesly contact Jonathan in our office at 305 669 2822 or email him at: info@justdigit.org