Benefits Counseling Offered at Disability Rights and Resources
If you receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and are considering returning to work — or maybe working for the first time — chances are you’re wondering how that extra income will affect your benefits. For example:
- Will the amount of your monthly benefit change?
- Will your benefit immediately stop?
- Will you lose your Medicare or Medicaid?
Well, good news! There are resources that can help you make an informed decision about whether working is the right choice for you. Benefits counseling is a great place to start.
What is Benefits Counseling? Benefits counseling is a free service offered by the Alabama Work Incentives Network (Ala-WIN) program to explain how working will affect your federal and state benefits, including:
- SSDI & SSI
- Medicare & Medicaid
- SNAP/food stamps
- Veterans Benefits
Your Benefits Counselor will explain how earnings from work will affect your Social Security benefits and how Social Security Work Incentives can enable you to ease the transition to work without immediately losing your benefits. They will also explain the importance of reporting your wages to Social Security to help avoid benefit overpayments.
What is Ala-WIN? In North and Central Alabama, Disability Rights and Resources has a program called Ala-WIN, which is funded under the Social Security Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program. It is staffed by benefits counselors known as Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs), who provide individualized, in-depth counseling about working, earning more money and how working may affect your Social Security, healthcare and other public benefits. Working with Ala-WIN can help you:
- Understand the potential benefits of employment and dispel the myths about working
- Understand specific Work Incentives and how they apply to you
- Understand how to protect your benefits, as you decide what is the right path for you to achieve your employment goals and attain financial independence
Who is Eligible for Benefits Counseling? Working with a CWIC is often a first step for beneficiaries who want to go to work. You can access benefits counseling at Ala-WIN if you receive disability benefits from Social Security and:
- Are working
- Have a job offer pending
- Are actively interviewing for jobs
- Are a veteran, or
- Are age 14-25, (even if you are not actively pursuing work)
If this sounds like you, please call the Social Security Ticket to Work Helpline at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) and ask to be connected to a local CWIC near you. If you just want some general information about how work affects benefits, you can still call the helpline to speak with a customer service representative, who can answer many of your questions about disability benefits and Social Security Work Incentives. You can also go online at https://choosework.ssa.gov/ to access information and attend a WISE webinar.
This document is funded through a Social Security cooperative agreement. Although Social Security reviewed this document for accuracy, it does not constitute an Official Social Security communication. We developed this handout at U.S. taxpayer expense.