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New Disability Benefits at Work Website

Aimed at people with disabilities and their families, as well as at people who work in the disability field, a new website by the Work Incentive Support Center at the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability provides information, case studies and advice on work incentives.

Disability Benefits at Work explains the financial side of entering the workplace for people receiving government benefits in the form of Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.

The site explains how a person with a disability can have financial stability while beginning to work by using the work incentives provided by government disability programs. Work incentives remove financial roadblocks to work. For example, a person might worry that their wages will come out to less than what they would have received in benefits, or that their health will force them to unexpectedly reduce their work hours. They may wonder what to do about expenses related to working with their disability, such as high transportation costs or a job coach. The site also discusses how workers can keep their Medicaid coverage, or afford Medicare, if other health insurance is unavailable or affordable.

The Work Incentive Support Center has four faculty members and deep expertise in the subject; the center instructed over 1,000 students in 2022. Its adult education courses lead to a professional certification in work incentive planning, as well as youth and veteran add-on certifications. For example, a social worker or job counselor with this certification can assist clients with disabilities who want to use work incentives. An example of a client could be a high school student with a disability who has no savings and no family support, but who aspires to having a career and flourishing financially. With work incentives, the student can save money for a college education or job training, and embark on a career without losing benefits while they still need them to pay for basic needs. Another example of a client is a person with long-term, complex medical needs caused by an accident. This person would like to continue their career, but without losing the financial safety net offered by their disability benefits.

The Disability Benefits at Work website is available to the general public and allows the center to reach more people who want to develop know-how in this complex area.

Disability Benefits at Work is the latest website from the Yang-Tan Institute based on a back-end system developed at the institute. These sites allow for quick browsing to find an answer to a specific question. They also provide smooth navigation through longer content to build a deeper understanding. Other recent sites based on this system are Service Animals in Public Spaces and the Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers.

Providing practical information to work incentive planners, supported employment specialists, policymakers and others who assist people with disabilities is a core focus for the Yang-Tan Institute, which is part of Cornell University’s ILR School. The Yang-Tan Institute conducts research and outreach. With a mission of advancing the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in the workplace and community, the institute’s research, training and technical resources expand knowledge about disability inclusion, leading to positive change. The institute currently has over a dozen active projects, including Citizen-Centered Leadership, Northeast ADA Center and Y-ReCONNECTS (Youth Reentering the Community through Opportunity, Networking, Navigation, Education, Collaboration and Transition Supports).