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Project Impact - Individual Members Planning and Assessing Choices Together

The fear of losing Social Security benefits has been cited as a major barrier that keeps people with disabilities from pursuing employment. However, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999 offers new opportunities for people with disabilities to start working while keeping their health and/or financial benefits. The Social Security Administration has funded Project IMPACT to get the word out about these options, and help beneficiaries, family members, and professionals calculate and manage the best strategies for a person with a disability who wants to work. Project IMPACT provides benefit planning, assistance and outreach for persons with disabilities who receive SSI or SSDI and are interested in working or returning to work.

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) administers the project; along with ICI, collaborators include independent living centers, clubhouse programs, community-based minority organizations, and Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change, a parent advocacy group. The collaboration provides community-based benefit planning services in the following Massachusetts counties: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk, as well as the city of Somerville. ICI assists the project to ensure that outreach strategies, materials, and activities are culturally appropriate for diverse populations.

Services include:

A similar grant was awarded to Massachusetts Project with Industry Inc., also known as the Resource Partnership. Their grant is titled "Bene-Plan" and provides services to Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampton, Worcester and Middlesex counties (excluding Somerville). To receive services in these counties, call the Resource Partnership at (508) 647-1722.

Both grants allow individuals with disabilities, their families, and significant others to access accurate and understandable information regarding Social Security Work Incentives, public health insurance, long-term care services, employment-based health insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and federal and state housing programs. In addition, Benefit Specialists are available to develop individualized benefit plans.

Resources (from the Mass Rehabilitation Commission website)

For more information, contact Joe Reale at (617) 204-3854 or Joseph.Reale@mrc.state.ma.us

Project Contact: Meredith Aalto
ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities