Helping People Return to Work

Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach (BPA&O)

Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (City of Chicago)

Illinois Department of Human Services-Division of Mental Health

Illinois Department of Human Services- Division of Rehabilitation Services

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)

Equip for Equality, Inc.

Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach

The Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach (BPA&O) Project is a federally-funded initiative to educate and assist individuals with disabilities receiving SSI/SSDI, and those who support them, to anticipate and plan for changes that may occur in their state and federal benefits as a result of employment. These benefits include SSI/SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare, TANF, Food Stamps, subsidized housing, worker’s compensation, and unemployment benefits.

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security

The Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security is a federally funded initiative to assist beneficiaries of Social Security who are trying to return to or begin working. This Project is staffed by a licensed attorney and advocate who are able to provide legal and advocacy assistance with return to work issues.

How Can These Projects Help Me?

These Projects are for people with disabilities who receive either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or both. The Social Security Administration has many "Work Incentives" that may make it worthwhile for you to go back to work.

BPA&O: The BPA&O staff can explain the "Work Incentives" programs of Social Security. There is a possibility that you may no longer need to rely on Social Security. A trained Benefits Specialist will sit down with you and gather information that can help you know what will happen when you begin working. The Specialist will help you understand the effects working may have on your federal and state benefits and let you decide what you want to do. There is no cost to consumers for this service.

PABSS: If you decide to return to work, you may need advocacy or legal assistance with return to work issues. The PABSS Program can assist you with these issues. Such issues might include accessing needed services, supports, and accommodations. If you are planning on returning to work and are currently using vocational rehabilitation services, you may need advocacy assistance in dealing with your provider. There is no cost for these services.

What Should I Do If I Want to Return to Work But I Am Afraid of Losing My Benefits?

If you want to return to work but are afraid about what will happen to your state and federal benefits, you should contact a Benefits Specialist to set up an appointment. They will inform you about the different "Work Incentives" such as the one that allows you to keep your Medicaid or Medicare benefits while you work. With this information, you can make an informed decision about going to work.

How Do I Contact a PABSS Advocate?

If you need advocacy or legal services concerning work issues, contact your statewide PABSS project at:

Equip for Equality, Inc.
PABSS Project
1-800-537-2632- Voice


How Do I Contact a BPA&0 Planner?

The BPAO Project has divided the state geographically. To contact your local Benefits Counselor:

Mayor’s Office for People w/ Disabilities (City of Chicago: Jocelyn Romasanta, Robert Rosen, Erick Lopez, Thomas Bierdz)

1-312-746-5743 – Voice
1-312-746-5713 - TTY

Illinois Department of Human Services—Division of Mental Health 866 390-6771/TTY 312-814-5050

Jerome Jones, #2: So. Suburban Cook, Will, Grundy, Kankakee, Shirley Morley, #1: West Suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Kenneth Denny, #3: Adams, Brown, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, Macon, MaCoupin, Mason,, Scott McDonough, Menard, Mercer, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Warren, Lenora Winn, #4, Alexander, Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, St. , Clair, Johnson, Madison, Massac, Monroe, Pulaski, Randolph, Union Juana Hernandez, 312-814-3290 (Espanol)

Illinois Department of Human Services—Division of Rehabilitation Services

800 807-6962/TTY 866 444-8013

Michelle Lawrence #4 630/268-0639North Suburban Cook County, Boone DeKalb. Janice Miller: #1 217/ 558-6275, Logan, Dewit, Platt, Douglas, Edgar, Christina, Shelby, Coles, Cumberland, Clark, Montgomery, Fayette, bond, Jasper, Effingham, Crawford Kaylee Raymond, #2 217/558-6326, Champaign, Ford, McLean,, , Iroquois, , Livingston,, Vermillion, Rebecca Peters:, #4, 815/ 599-0760 Winnebago,,Carroll, JoDavies, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside LaSalle Ron Mulvaney#5 Clinton, Marion, Clay, Richland, Lawrence, Washington, Jefferson, Wayne, Wabash, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Williamson, Salline, Gallatin, Pope, Harding, Edwards Krista Coleman #7 Rock Island, Bureau, Putnam, Stark, Marshall, Peoria, Woodford, Tazwell. e-mail:

A large print or Braille translation of this pamphlet can be provided upon request.

 This publication was made possible by a grant from the Social Security Administration. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the Social Security Administration.