The U.S. Social Security Administration (Social Security) awarded UMass Medical School’s BenePLAN program a five-year Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) cooperative agreement to continue providing WIPA services. Pending the availability of annual funds, the cooperative agreement provides annual funding of $240,000 for BenePLAN through June 30, 2020.
BenePLAN is a program of the Center for Health Policy and Research, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. BenePLAN has been administered by the Disability, Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit since 2008.
BenePLAN helps Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities understand how working and earning wages will affect their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or other public benefits. BenePLAN employs six Social Security trained and certified Community Work Incentives Counselors (CWICs) to serve beneficiaries in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester and Middlesex counties.
“BenePLAN provides a critical service to individuals with disabilities,” said Kathy Petkauskos, a senior program director in DHEP. “Our CWICs work directly with individuals assisting them to understand how their benefits will be affected when returning to work or increasing their earnings, with the ultimate goal of making a smooth transition from reliance on benefits to financial independence.”
For more information about BenePLAN, go to www.beneplan.org.