A primary purpose of Social Security is to provide financial assistance to the disabled. Another purpose is to help people with disabilities achieve financial independence by giving them the opportunity to work and avail themselves of employment opportunities. Work incentive employment supports disabled and blind SSI beneficiaries in the pursuit and performance of work by minimizing the risk of losing their SSI or Medicaid benefits.

Certain work incentives allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to not count the income or resources of beneficiaries. Other incentives may allow beneficiaries to continue to receive Medicaid coverage even though they are not receiving SSI cash benefits. Depending on the types of income received, it will change the amount not counted and, therefore, the amount of SSI benefits. Beneficiaries may be entitled to take advantage of more than one work incentive program.

The first $65 of earned income plus one–half of the amount over $65 is not counted by the SSA. Thus, $1 for every $2 earned over $65 is reduced. For students under age 22, up to $1,850 of gross earnings in a month (but not more than $7,180 in the calendar year 2016) may be excluded in calculating countable income.

Any out-of-pocket expenses paid for certain items and services related to a disability necessary to work may be excluded from earned income even if these items and services are used for non-work activities. Because these impairment-related work expenses (IRWE) are excluded from earned income when an SSI monthly payment amount is calculated, an SSI benefit may increase.

Examples of IRWE include the costs of co-pays, medications, counseling services, car modifications, assistive technology that people with disabilities use for employment-related purposes; such as software applications, computer support services, and special tools which have been specifically designed to accommodate the person’s impairment or attendant care services. However, if a beneficiary is reimbursed for these expenses, they may not be excluded from earned income.

The SSA may also consider IRWE when calculating earnings in order to determine if an applicant is doing substantial work. While substantial gainful activity (SGA) is only reviewed when a person first applies for SSI, once SSI benefits commence and an applicant returns to work, SGA is no longer an issue, although countable income is nonetheless reviewed and updated.

The assistance of an experienced disability attorney may help all applicants navigate the often lengthy and complicated process of applying for disability benefits. One of the best ways to make sure you understand all of the rules and regulations associated with applying for disability benefits is to retain the services of an experienced, knowledgeable and qualified Kentucky Social Security Disability attorney. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so there is absolutely nothing to lose! Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online today!Work Incentives And Disability