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Employment providers are able to support people with disabilities to both understand the benefits of employment in their life and the assistance that may be available or affected if they choose go to work, such as housing, food stamps and MaineCare. Free Work Incentives Planning assistance is available to individuals to plan for going to work.
There are also benefits available to employers who employ individuals with disabilities and other underemployed individuals. Visit the employer benefits page for more information on these programs.

Social Security

Social Security benefits can be largely divided between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Individuals may be receiving SSI or SSDI, or both. The amount they receive in benefits depends on a variety of factors and is calculated by Social Security Administration.

Type of benefit the individual receives will determine how it is affected by working. For those receiving both SSI and SSDI, different rules may apply to each benefit.

Help is available: Free assistance is available to help identify what kind of benefits the recipient has and to come up with an individualized plan. Free assistance is provided by specially trained individuals called Community Work Incentives Coordinators, or CWICs. In Maine, they are provided by Maine Medical Center Department of Vocational Services and are available state wide. For more information visit MMC Dept of Vocational Services.

Social Security also offers a variety of programs which can assist you with becoming employed and self sufficient.
PASS: PASS is a Plan to Achieve Self-Support. "PASS lets disabled individuals set aside money and/or things he or she owns to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal." (Source: SSA)

IRWE: An IRWE is an impairment-related work expense and allows the recipient to "deduct the cost of certain impairment-related items and services that [they] need to work..." (Source: SSA)These must be arranged and approved by SSA in advance. A CWIC can assist you with setting this up.

Ticket to Work (TTW): Ticket to Work provides incentives to individuals who currently receive SSA benefits and wish to return to work. Eligible individuals can take their ticket to participating employment networks (EN) and receive assistance. More information on these programs is available from:
More information on Social Security

MaineCare Option for Workers with Disabilities
Maine has a MaineCare Option for Workers with Disabilities. This option allows you to earn more and still keep your MaineCare benefits. You may qualify for this MaineCare Option if:

  1. You meet the Social Security guidelines for a disability; and
  2. You have earnings, usually from a job; and
  3. You meet the financial guidelines.

For more information visit MaineCare Option for Workers with Disabilities or download the Word version brochure or the PDF version brochure

TANF / Aspire / WIC / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (formerly Food Stamps)

TANF, Aspire and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (formerly Food Stamps) are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Each of these programs is based on income eligibility in addition to other factors. The DHHS workers for the programs can provide more information regarding the income guidelines and how working can impact the benefit amount. Once working, it's important to inform the DHHS worker immediately to prevent any overpayment.

Housing Choice Vouchers (aka Section 8)

Housing Choice Vouchers is a federally supported program to assist "very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market." (Source: DHHS)

Rent payment is calculated based on income so any additional income should be reported in writing with copies of pay stubs to avoid any underpayment of rent.

Failing to report income to any of the above programs could cause an over-award of benefits and require you to pay back the amount allowed in error. If it is determined that the omission of income was intentional, it could also impact the ability to receive benefits in the future.