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.

Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Centers in Miami

dogs in raincoats

By: Monica Sabates

Hurricane season in Miami-Dade County is a force to be reckoned with. The season’s span between June 1st and November 30th leaves a considerable amount of time for a hurricane to strike suddenly and swiftly in one’s vicinity. Being mindful and prepared for what may come is the first step to ensuring one’s safety and the safety of one’s pet or service animal. One option for an individual living in an evacuation area, unsafe structure, or mobile home in Miami-Dade is to pre-register for a Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Center (PFHEC) before a hurricane announces its arrival.

In order to apply for occupation in a Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Center, the individual must contact the Miami Dade Answer Center to receive the application by mail. Some of the requirements for participants include residing in one of the mandatory evacuation zones and ensuring their pets’ or service animals’ vaccinations are up to date. The kinds of animals allowed in the evacuation center include: dogs, cats, birds, and other small mammals such as guinea pigs and mice. The application that the individual receives consists of four main criteria: registration for the adult in charge of the pet, the pet’s description, the pet’s medications, and crate/cage specification.

Upon completing the first part of the application, the individual will receive a temporary acceptance letter. Once the mandatory evacuation order is issued, the individual and their maximum of three pets must go to the PFHEC with food, water, and other essentials for both the owner and pet. Admittance into the shelter will be determined by a veterinarian, who upon inspection will deem whether the pet is a health risk to other animals or humans.
Currently, there are two locations that provide the service of a Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Center (PFHEC) during a hurricane emergency:

E. Darwin Fuchs Pavilion
10901 SW 24th St.
Miami, FL 33165

Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High
1410 County Line Road
Miami, FL 33179

For more information and tips on how to keep you and your pet safe during hurricane season, visit Miami Dade County Animal Services online at: http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/disaster-preparedness.asp

Traveling Abroad


By Rachel Goldstein

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the holidays and bring in the New Year traveling to Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. Rachel and Bobby at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, FranceIn Paris, we went to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chapelle, Arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre and took a day trip to Versailles. In Madrid, we did a hop on, hop off tour bus to see as much of the capital and largest city of Spain as possible. We went to the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace, and we saw a Flamenco show. In Barcelona, we went to see many of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces, like Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. We also made a trip outside Barcelona to Montserrat, a multi-peaked mountain in Catalonia, Spain. It was an unforgettable trip full of a lot of new experiences!

I am always thinking about disability-related issues and notice them throughout everyday life, and that didn’t stop just because I Rachel and Bobby outside of the Louvre Museum in Paris, Francewas on vacation. The hotel we stayed at in Paris had steps leading to the only elevator, which was outdated and so small that it was a tight squeeze for two people to fit inside. We researched and brought converters and adapters so we had the right voltage to power our electronics and a blow-dryer and still managed to burn out a converter as soon as we plugged something in. Using public transportation to get around is a must – I noticed the elevators out of service, leaving stairs as the only option in several metro stations, and the large opening between the train and the station platform that requires you to take a big step to get on or off the train.

Planning a trip abroad and traveling to a new place is stressful on its own. I spent countless hours researching and planning as many of the details as possible, from hotels to restaurants to site-seeing and activities. For a person with a disability, traveling abroad can involve additional considerations, like having a backup plan for charging an electric wheelchair when you burn out your voltage converter and for your accommodations when it requires you to use the stairs to get to the elevator. Despite this, don’t let the extra planning that may be required discourage you! It’s hard to imagine a trip abroad going completely as planned, regardless of the circumstances. (I know our trip didn’t!) There are many resources that can be used by travelers with disabilities to ensure an amazing trip abroad!

Hurricane Preparedness


By: Anastasia Gaertner

Two red flags with black squares, indicating a hurricane.

It may seem like hurricane season is nearing its end, but we are still a ways off from the season’s official peak, which occurs from mid-August to late October. This time is when storms are likely to be at their worst, so as the peak of the season draws nearer, it is increasingly important to make sure that you, your family, and your pets and service animals are prepared. By now, you and your support network should fully understand your hurricane preparedness plan and how you plan to navigate a disaster with a disability.

The final major step to disaster preparation is to create a disaster supplies kit. This should include anything that you and your family will need if you are without power or safe water for an extended period of time, or if you must evacuate from your home.
It is recommended to have a complete kit with everything you may need should you be forced to stay in your home for a period of
time, as well as a smaller, lightweight kit with a few essentials, such as medications, that can be taken with you if there is an evacuation order.
The contents of your home kit will be dependent on your family’s needs, but there are some general guidelines for the types and amounts of supplies that you should include in your kit. It is recommended that your kit be set up to sustain your
family for at least three days, though seven or more
is preferable. All items should be non-perishable, and food and water should be replaced every six months. It is a good idea to label each item with the date that you added it to the kit, so that you
can keep track of when it is time to replace items. You will also want to pay close attention to any expiration dates, especially for food and medications.
You will want to include plenty of water in your disaster supplies kit. The recommended amount is one gallon of water per person per day that you are planning for in your kit. This is for both drinking an
d sanitation, although hot environments and high physical activity can double the necessary daily amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need even more water . Be sure to include extra water for your animals! You will also need nonperishable, ready-to-eat food to last your family and animals at least three days, and remember to add a non-electric can opener if you are including canned foods. Make sure the foods you add fit your family’s dietary needs or restrictions.Additionally, any necessary medications should be included in the kit. You may need to talk with your doctor
or pharmacist about how you can obtain and store your medications in the event of an emergency.
Some other important items for your supply kit include a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand crank radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, garbage bags, and any toiletry items, such as soap, towels,and hand sanitizer. Be sure to include in your kit anything that you need related to your disability and extras, if available. If you rely on power-dependent equipment, you may want to consider purchasing a generator, although you will want to contact your utility company to learn of any complications or restrictions. If a generator is not an option, you can look into alternate methods of surviving a potential power outage. Your support network can also be an important resource in obtaining
supplies and planning for a disaster.
Once you have completed your disaster supplies kit, you want to store it in a safe, dry place that is easily accessible to both you and members of your support network. Check the storage requirements for each item to make sure that you keep everything in a safe place. Following these guidelines can help you and your
family create a disaster kit that will help you survive hurricane season. For a more extensive list of items and preparation tips, check out the American Red Cross’s information booklet for disaster preparedness for people with disabilities: