Work incentives are rules that make it possible for people with disabilities to receive income from work and still receive Social Security benefits, Medicare, and/or Medicaid. Your Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) and Disability Program Navigators (DPN) can help you enter the workforce while still retaining some of their benefits using various work incentives.

Section 1619b

If going to work or working more hours puts your Medicaid services at risk, this program might be for you. Section 1619b allows increased income and resources for Medicaid eligibility. This is an incentive for you to go to work or to work more hours.

Social Security Administration (SSA) Work Incentives

The rules are different for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are run by SSA, and each has its own set of work incentives. It is possible to receive both. If you have any confusion about how to utilize a SSA work incentive, contact your CWIC or SSA.

Some key work incentives to know are:

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE): IRWEs are deductions from your income based on the cost of items or services you pay for and need for work. You must need these items or services because of your disability. Some examples of IRWEs are assistive technology, job coaching, attendant services, wheelchair van service, medications and medical supplies.

Continued Medicaid Coverage – 1619(b): Under SSI rules, your monthly check is less when you work. If you make enough money, your check may stop. If your check stops, you may be able to keep your Medical Assistance (Medicaid) by using a rule called 1619(b).

Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS): The PASS lets you set aside money to pay for items or services needed to reach a work goal. PASS expenses may include job coaching, education costs, job-related equipment (tools, uniforms, computers) or expenses to start a business.

Property Essential for Self–Support (PESS): Some property that you own and you use to support yourself never counts as a resource. For example:

  • property that you own and use in a trade or business, such as a gas station, farm, beauty parlor
  • personal property that you use for work, such as tools, uniforms, or safety equipment
  • government permits that allow you to do something to produce income, such as permits for commercial fishing

Some property may count but often does not, or Social Security may partly exclude it, such as:

  • property you use to produce goods or services that you need in your daily life, such as land, or equipment that you use to grow vegetables or raise livestock that you and your family eat
  • non–business property that produces income such as land or real estate or equipment you rent to someone

Expedited Reinstatement: If your SSDI or SSI check has stopped because of your income from work and then your earnings drop below substantial gainful activity (SGA). Expedited Reinstatement may be helpful for you. This work incentive can restore your check for up to six months. Your case will be reviewed for eligibility requirements. The review will also decide if you should get your check back beyond the six months.

Un-incurred Business Expense: Social Security’s name for contributions made by others to your self-employment business effort.

  • This refers to self-employment business support that someone provides the beneficiary at no cost
  • This is deducted from the net earnings when figuring out SGA of your earned income, not from SSI payment amount
  • Includes examples such as a friend working for free, receipt of computer used for work, etc.

For an item or service to qualify as an un-incurred business expense:

  • It must be an item or service that the IRS would allow as a legitimate business expense if you had paid for it; and
  • Someone other than you must have paid for it

These are only some of the work incentives available for people with disabilities who want to work. It is best to work with a Benefits Coordinator at the One Stop to make sure you are successful in your work effort.

There are special rules for individuals who are blind. Contact a CWIC to learn more about Blind Work Incentives.