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Welcome to the Massachusetts Employment First E-Newsletter

February 2014
In This Issue
Partnership Leads to Blueprint for Success

In November, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), in partnership with the Association of Developmental Disability Providers and  The Arc of Massachusetts, issued the Blueprint for Success: Employing Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in Massachusetts . This blueprint outlines the steps that will be taken in MA to increase integrated employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. These partners will meet monthly to jointly address the goals and recommendations in the Blueprint.

 

In order to achieve these milestones, DDS has announced a capacity-building initiative to provide access to training, technical assistance and other resources that will support the implementation of the Blueprint. DDS is working with the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston to help coordinate these capacity-building activities.

 

This E-Newsletter will provide you with information and resources to support the implementation of the Blueprint. In the upcoming weeks, we will be launching a new website and a full calendar of training opportunities. All of these activities and resources will support the implementation of EmploymentFirst in Massachusetts.

 

Please forward this E-Newsletter to anyone who might be interested. They can use the "subscribe" link at the bottom to subscribe.
Technical Assistance Available

In order to assist service providers in achieving the milestones outlined in the Blueprint for Success, the Institute for Community Inclusion will be offering technical assistance to any interested DDS center-based work service provider. These services will be provided by ICI staff and/or external consultants. Providers interested in receiving technical assistance must complete a TA Application.

 

The ICI is also seeking recommendations for consultants and subject matter experts, including service providers in MA. To recommend a consultant or subject matter expert, please complete the Consultant Referral Form. Providers who have expertise and availability are welcome to self-refer.

 

Providers must complete an application and receive approval from the ICI before engaging a consultant.

 

For more information about technical assistance, contact David Hoff at (617) 287-4308 or david.hoff@umb.edu.

Benefits: Training Options

People receiving Social Security disability benefits often have concerns around losing those benefits if they start working. However, the Social Security Administration has rules called "work incentives." These allow beneficiaries to work for a certain period of time and/or earn certain amounts, and retain some or all of their cash and medical benefits. Special provisions can also help working beneficiaries retain their health care.

 

Benefits and work incentives are complex, but they're essential to understand. Here are some training options and other resources to help you and the job seekers you serve.

 

BenePLAN in partnership with Work Without Limits, with support from DDS, is providing a 1-day Nuts and Bolts training in each of the DDS regions for DDS staff and providers. Training has already been held in the Northeast and Metro Regions. Contact the regional office for more information about training in the Central/West region (March 30 and April 1) and the Southeast (to be scheduled).

 

Through the Massachusetts Disability Employment Initiative, BenePLAN and Work Without Limits will also be conducting the Nuts and Bolts training for the One-Stop Career Centers and their partners in the Lowell and Franklin/Hampshire regions in March. Contact the  Career Center of Lowell or the  Franklin Hampshire Career Center for more information.

 

The New England TACE Center is offering an online course in May: Earnings and Benefits: Using Social Security Work Incentives.
WIPA Experts Offer Benefits Planning

The Social Security Administration funds a network of  Work Incentives Planning and Assistance programs (WIPAs) that provide expert benefits counseling and planning services to people with disabilities who are working or seeking employment. You can schedule a one-to-one consultation with a WIPA expert to talk about how earnings and benefits relate to a specific individual's situation.

 

In Massachusetts there are two WIPA programs:

Other Benefits Resources
Available in English and Spanish, this guide makes Social Security disability benefits and employment easy to understand. The purpose of this booklet is to give families and professionals practical, hands-on information about work incentives, and benefits planning resources.

The Social Security Red Book provides comprehensive information about the impact of earnings on Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance.