Program Profile

Impact Feature Issue on Paraeducators Supporting Students with Disabilities and At-Risk

Addressing Possible Loss of Disability Benefits for Service Participants

One factor that has kept people with disabilities out of the workforce is the loss of disability benefits including Medicaid and Medicare. While service is different from employment, participation in some national service programs may threaten eligibility for government assistance programs in the same way that a job would. Thus an individual on federal assistance is likely to have real or perceived economic barriers between them and service. Congress has recently passed legislation to address the loss of benefits, but these work incentive programs are somewhat complicated and many people don’t know about them.

Service programs that are recruiting people with disabilities will benefit from some familiarity with these issues and the work incentives options that are now available. It is recommended that programs let all applicants know that national service may have an impact on benefits so the information reaches all recipients, whether or not they self-disclose; make sure the individual understands the potential economic impact of service before they join a program. Each individual with a disability will be impacted differently, so it is important that they get information for their particular situation from their local Social Security Administration office and other agencies that are familiar with the Work Incentives Program.

For up-to-date information on the relationship between disability benefits and national service participation, contact the Social Security Administration. 800/772-1213 (voice), 800/325-0778 (TTY).

Excerpted with permission from Service & Inclusion: A Multimedia Resource for Inclusive Community Service, a Web site developed by Emily E. Miller through her fellowship with the Corporation for National Service.