Understanding your public benefits can be complicated, but significant improvements in recent years allow individuals with disabilities greater flexibility to work and maximize their earning potential while still receiving benefits. The MRC is part of the solution to this process and can help you reach your goal of financial independence. Below are major points of interest to consumers. Your local Vocational Rehabilitation Office and Project IMPACT is often the best place to receive information regarding the programs outlined below. You may also learn more through the Social Security Administration's web page The Work Site at http://www.ssa.gov/work/ or an Independent Living Center.

The Disability Determination Services (DDS)

DDS is a program of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission which is 100% funded by the Social Security Administration (SSA). DDS Disability Examiners and medical consultants determine eligibility of Massachusetts applicants for two disability programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - ages 18- 65
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - ages birth - 65

Visit the DDS pages to learn more about the determination process.

Benefit Planning Assistance and Outreach - Project IMPACT

Individual Members Planning and Accessing Choices Together (IMPACT) is a program providing Work Incentives Planning and Assistance services for persons with disabilities who are interested in working or returning to work. Benefit Specialists are available throughout Massachusetts and can help you better plan and understand public benefits. All services provided are absolutely free and kept strictly confidential! Learn more about Project IMPACT.

Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)

A Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) allows you to set aside income and/or resources for a specified period of time in order to attain a work goal. For example, you could set aside money for an education, vocational training, or starting your own business while still receiving public benefits. Any VR Office or Benefit Specialist with Project IMPACT can assist you with completing the PASS application.

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

You may be eligible to deduct the cost of certain impairment-related items and services that you need to work from your gross earnings when your "countable earnings" demonstrates gainful earning activity. It does not matter if you use these items and services for non-work activities. Contact your local VR Office for more information or visit the SSA information site.

The SSA Red Book on Employment Support with links to alternative versions.

 


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.