Introduction to Social Security Disability Benefits, Work Incentives, and Employment Support Programs Web Course (Introductory Web Course)

We offer the Introductory Web Course to provide a basic introduction to the Social Security disability benefit programs (SSI and SSDI) and their associated work incentives as an overview of the field of work incentives planning.

This two-week course consists of six (6) one-hour lessons. Each lesson includes a recorded video lecture with slides, supplemental readings and resource tools, as well as interactive activities and knowledge checks. There is no set date or time you have to log into the web course. It is largely self-directed and self-paced, but you must complete all required coursework by the last day of the course.

We designed the course to meet the training needs of individuals who want a better understanding of Social Security disability benefits and the basics related to how work affects these benefits but do not require certification. Additionally, successful completion of this Introductory Web Course is required for all staff of community partner agencies and organizations to register for and participate in the CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification.

The target audience for the Introductory Web Course includes several distinct groups, all of whom play an important role in supporting beneficiaries who wish to pursue employment:

  • Community partners who provide return-to-work services including staff of ENs, state VR agencies, American Job Centers and other employment service providers;
  • Agency staff who have regular contact with beneficiaries and are in a position to encourage work and financial stability planning and outcomes, including staff from state and local Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities agencies, Mental Health and Substance Abuse agencies, Centers for Independent Living, State Protection and Advocacy, Public School systems, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among others;
  • Community partners who want to pursue the CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification;
  • WIPA/POD project staff that do not require certification, including administrative or other staff; and
  • WIPA/POD project staff that plan to pursue CWIC certification, and would like to come to the initial training with a basic knowledge of the topics to be covered, and of their job requirements.

The Introductory Web Course consists of the following content:

Lesson 1 discusses the problem of unemployment among Social Security disability beneficiaries and describes the national WIPA initiative as part of the solution to this problem. We provide information on the Ticket to Work program, the key components of the WIPA program, the role of CWICs as part of the employment support team. We also provide information on how participants can work with WIPA projects to support their shared goals.

Lesson 2 introduces Social Security disability benefit programs including an overview of the eligibility criteria for both Title II disability and SSI benefits and will describe Social Security's definition of disability and the disability determination process. Course content also covers the basic program concepts that distinguish Title II disability benefits from SSI and how these benefits interact for concurrent beneficiaries.

Lesson 3 provides an overview of the Title II disability benefits (SSDI, CDB and DWB) and explains how paid employment affects these benefits. Course content covers the factors Social Security considers during Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) determinations and describes work incentives that apply in the Title II disability program. This lesson also covers how the Extended Period of Medicare Coverage allows beneficiaries to retain Medicare if cash payments stop due to work.

Lesson 4 focuses on helping participants gain a basic understanding the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program. Course content covers the factors that affect eligibility and payment amounts for the SSI program. The lesson also describes the effect of resources on SSI eligibility and identifies common resource exclusions.

Lesson 5 covers how paid employment affects SSI benefits and SSI related Medicaid. Participants will learn how to use the SSI calculation sheet to understand the basic effect of earned income on SSI cash payments and course content will cover four SSI work incentives that can be applied to support a beneficiary's transition to work. The course also covers how beneficiaries may keep Medicaid coverage if cash benefits are lost due to employment through the 1619(b) provisions.

Lesson 6 covers ways that participants can support beneficiaries to take the next step toward employment. Course content addresses four positive message points participants can communicate to beneficiaries in order to encourage work. We will provide details about sources of accurate information on work and benefits, as well as strategies for working effectively with WIPA projects.

Participants who successfully complete all of the course requirements will receive a certificate of completion that is accessible through their myNTC account. Completing this online course does not result in certification as a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC), or certification as a Community Partner Work Incentives Counselor (CPWIC). This online course provides a foundation for future training, and does not offer the type of training necessary to accurately and effectively counsel beneficiaries. The certificate earned for this course demonstrates completion of this training opportunity.

Introductory Web Course is a Requirement for the CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training:

Successful completion of this Introductory Web Course is a requirement for all staff of community partner agencies and organizations to register for and participate in the CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification.

The CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification is designed solely for professionals who deliver individualized work incentives counseling services to disability beneficiaries on a regular basis. Establishing the Introductory Web Course as a prerequisite is intended to help community partners understand what comprehensive, individualized work incentives counseling entails, and to make an informed decision about whether to pursue the initial training and certification.

Important Note for WIPA Projects: This requirement does not apply to staff and subcontractors of a WIPA project who will provide WIPA services. The requirement does, however, apply to other staff of a WIPA agency who do not provide WIPA funded services.

You may access the list of upcoming trainings on the Introduction to Social Security Disability Benefits, Work Incentives, and Employment Support Programs web course calendar.