Participation Requirements and Priorities
CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification
The initial training and certification program is a required component of the Social Security Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program. WIPA program staff and subcontractors, including WIPA Program Directors and those who are already certified, have highest priority. Once we accommodate WIPA program staff, Social Security may also approve Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program staff who have completed the Introduction to Social Security Disability Benefits, Work Incentives, and Employment Support Programs Web Course; and select staff of community partner organizations to attend based on the specific requirements and priorities outlined below.
Community Partner Registration Requirements
To be considered for the Initial Training and Certification, a community partner must meet all of the following requirements:
The registrant must work for an Employment Network, including administrative EN provider affiliate staff, or State Vocational Rehabilitation agency, or have Social Security approval to attend as a State VR Sponsored vendor.
If you are currently not an EN and are interested in information on how you can become an EN, please visit the Employment Network Request for Application webpage (https://www.ssa.gov/work/enrfa.html).
If you have questions about the approval process to attend as a VR Sponsored vendor, please contact WIPA@ssa.gov.
Because class participants will work with beneficiary Personally Identifiable Information, Social Security requires all community partner participants have a favorable suitability determination from Social Security prior to registration. (WIPA staff may attend while their suitability determination is in process, but may not work with beneficiaries until Social Security gives them a favorable suitability clearance.)
Prior to registering for the initial training, community partners must complete the Introduction to Social Security Disability Benefits, Work Incentives, and Employment Support Programs Web Course; we also call this the Introductory Web Course.
Prospective participants must commit to delivering individualized work incentive counseling services as defined below to Social Security disability beneficiaries at least 16 hours per week. Work incentive counseling is the delivery of in-depth advisement to Social Security disability beneficiaries about the effect of an earning goal on their public benefits, including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, and other public benefits. Specifically, work incentives counseling includes:
- Determining eligibility for work incentive counseling services;
- Providing information about and referrals to programs that support work;
- Gathering information about the beneficiary and verifying their public benefits;
- Providing individualized counseling, and a written Benefits Summary & Analysis (BS&A) report documenting that counseling; and
- Providing proactive ongoing work-related benefits support.
Commit to attending all of the Initial Training webinars. The Initial Training consists of a rigorous 40-hour training program that supports WIPA staff and community partners in developing the basic knowledge and skills that are necessary to provide individualized work incentives counseling at a novice level. The NTDC will deliver the Initial Training through a series of 20 webinars over 10 business days. Make sure you can attend all the webinars by reviewing the dates and times for each on the Upcoming Trainings page.
Commit to completing the two-part certification. Part I of the certification process takes place over the eight-week period immediately following the Initial Training and involves completing a series of eleven online competency-based assessments. Successful completion of the assessments results in provisional certification and authorization to continue to Part II of the certification process. The Part I assessment process takes, on average, 25-45 hours over the eight-week period. 2023 Part I Assessment and Certification Instructions: Word Version PDF Version
Part II of the certification process takes the assessment process to the next level by evaluating participants' ability to apply the concepts in developing BS&A reports for actual Social Security beneficiaries they are serving. Part II of the process requires submission and successful review of three BS&A reports during the 10-month period immediately following successful completion of Part I. Word Version PDF Version
Understand that successful participants must renew their certification annually by completing trainings to earn 18 Continuing Certification Credits per year.
Registration Priority Groups
Once registration closes, Social Security will approve and confirm registrants to participate according to the following priority list:
- WIPA project staff, including WIPA Program Directors, who require initial training and certification in order to provide services to Social Security beneficiaries.
- WIPA Program Directors who will not provide direct services to beneficiaries, but who will provide direct supervision to WIPA staff.
- Certified CWICs and WIPA Program Directors who would like to participate in the training as a refresher.
- PABSS program staff who have completed the Introductory Web Course.
- Community partner staff who will provide individualized work incentives counseling to Social Security beneficiaries at least 16 hours per week, according to the following priority list:
- Priority 1: Employment Network staff (You work for your agency's EN and you have suitability clearance - Provider ID number required)
- Priority 2: State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff or approved VR Sponsored vendor with suitability and sponsorship from the State VR agency
- Priority 3: Social Security Demonstration Project staff (advance permission from Social Security Contracting Officer's Representatives (CORs) required)
Important: There is no registration fee for those approved to attend Initial Training, however, you must have the technology needed to participate in webinars on the Zoom platform.