The recent unveiling of a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair underscored the promise that any American can grow up to be President, even those with disabilities. To many young people with childhood disabilities this is an important message. Far too many do not realize the opportunities that exist to attain what seems unattainable, and as a result have low expectations.
Social Security is making a special effort to reach young people with disabilities who receive benefits under Social Security programs. Recent changes in the law dramatically increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. For young people just starting out in life, these rules may be even more important. They include:
· Continued cash benefits while a person tests the ability to work
· Continued Medicare and Medicaid coverage, now up to 93 months (seven years, 9 months) beyond the trial work period
· Expedited reinstatement of benefits if unable to continue working
· Community support, counseling and assistance in making the transition to work
· Help with work expenses
· Help with rehabilitation and training
Another recent change allows Social Security to exclude more earned income of students with disabilities who are under age 22 and who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The excludable amounts increased from $400 of their monthly earnings (up to an annual limit of $1,620) to $1,290 in monthly earnings (up to an annual limit of $5,200). The rule changes also provide for automatic yearly adjustments based on increases in the cost of living. These changes will make it easier for students receiving SSI benefits to continue their education and transition from school and public benefits to careers.
Young people who want more information on these provisions can request the Graduating To Independence (GTI) multi-media package which explains the help available to people with disabilities. It is also a helpful educational tool for parents, teachers and rehabilitation counselors. This package includes written materials, two computer software disks, and a video. For a copy of GTI, contact Graduating to Independence, Social Security Administration, 545 Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235; fax 410-966-8597.
You may also obtain information about Social Security’s other employment provisions from our work website, www.ssa.gov/work. Our website provides a list of vocational rehabilitation programs, employment resources, a Community Events calendar, and examples of success stories of people with disabilities who used Social Security’s employment support services to obtain a job.
For more information, call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication, Working While Disabled–How We Can Help.