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 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:

  1. The registrant must be an employee of an agency or organization. This includes, but is not limited to Employment Network staff, State Vocational Rehabilitation agency staff, Veterans service agency staff, public school youth transition specialists, and Centers for Independent Living staff.
  2. 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.
  3. Commit to delivering individualized work incentive counseling services as defined above 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 advisement, including a Benefits Summary & Analysis (BS&A) report; and
    • Providing proactive ongoing work-related benefits support.
  4. 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.

  5. 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 on to Part II of the certification process. The Part I assessment process takes, on average, 25-45 hours over the eight-week period. 2020 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. 2020 Part II Assessment and Certification Instructions: Word Version  PDF Version

Registration Priority Groups

Once registration closes, Social Security will approve and confirm registrants to participate according to the following priority list:

  1. WIPA project staff, including WIPA Program Directors, who require initial training and certification in order to provide services to Social Security beneficiaries.
  2. WIPA Program Directors who will not provide direct services to beneficiaries, but who will provide direct supervision to WIPA staff.
  3. Certified CWICs and WIPA Program Directors who would like to participate in the training as a refresher.
  4. All other staff and contractors of a WIPA project, regardless of funding, who plan to provide individualized work incentive counseling services at least 16 hours per week.
  5. 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 (DUNS number required)
    • Priority 2: State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff
    • Priority 3: Social Security Demonstration Project staff (advance permission from Social Security Contracting Officer's Representatives (CORs) required)
    • Priority 4: Veteran services agency staff, youth transition specialists in public schools, and Center for Independent Living staff
    • Priority 5: Other community partners who are staff of an American Job Center, Medicaid and local Department of Social Services agency, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities services agency, state and local benefits counseling & work incentive assistance provider, local mental health agency, or community based employment and employment support service providers
    • Priority 6: Certified community partner staff who would like to participate in the training as a refresher

Important: There is no registration fee for those approved to attend initial training, but you must have the technology needed to participate in webinars on the Zoom platform.