Update of the Work Incentives Advisory Group
Regional Work Incentives Advisory Group (WIAG), created by SSA Region V
Commissioner James Martin to identify and reduce problems at SSA offices in
providing services to people with disabilities who want to work, has been
meeting on a quarterly basis. Region V includes the states of Illinois, Ohio,
Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin. The group is composed of advocates
and SSA staff from all six states, as well as representatives from the Health
Care Financing Administration (HCFA) (which administers the Medicaid program)
and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
issue identified by the WIAG was the 1619 Medicaid program. The 1619 Medicaid
program allows SSI beneficiaries to receive free Medicaid (no spenddown) when
they return to work. It was undisputed that many SSI beneficiaries do not
receive 1619 Medicaid because of problems at both the local SSA offices and the
local Medicaid offices (in Illinois, this would be IDHS). We recommended that
both SSA and the Medicaid agencies meet to discuss ways to better communicate
information between the two agencies, and those meetings have taken place. In
addition, the Health & Disability Advocates have developed a fact sheet on 1619 Medicaid (available
on our website) to help consumers as well as SSA employees and IDHS employees.
HCFA has also agreed to monitor the states’ 1619 Medicaid rolls.
major set of issues identified by WIAG were service delivery problems at the
local SSA offices, specifically around return to work. WIAG recommended, and
Regional Commissioner Martin agreed, that the local SSA field offices should
devote more attention to return to work issues. As a result of our
recommendations, more SSA employees will be trained on work incentives, and,
importantly, there will be better tracking of earnings reporting when a consumer
reports work to a local office. These changes will be especially helpful when
the new Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach counselors are working with
WIAG accomplishment was national change in policy on transportation and
Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs). SSA has decided that a consumer may
use disability related transportation expenses as IRWEs even when public
transportation is not available. This is a major change in policy.
is now focused on the Ticket to Work implementation, and will provide comment on
the regulations as they are issued.
If you have any questions, or suggestions for WIAG issues, please contact the Health & Disability Advocates at 312-223-9600.