Feb. 10, 2004 --
Our story "Social Security Determination offices in states face problems" reminds us that when we apply for Social Security disability benefits we run the risk of dealing with a state counselor who's overworked and not well trained. Fortunately, a new website can help those of us who need to navigate the disability benefits quagmire.
Although designed with disabled Californians in mind, the World Institute on Disability's new "Disability Benefits 101" website at http://www.disabilitybenefits101.org is useful for anyone wishing to learn more about disability benefits programs and employment options. The site, created by WID's California Work Incentives Initiative, gives visitors an easy set of real-life scenarios to follow to learn how disability benefits work. The information is helpful to anyone needing to navigate the benefits process, whether Californian or not.
Visitors can peruse each of four scenarios:
I've just been diagnosed" as having a disability --what do I do now?
After the accident" -- how do I put my life back on track?
"Can I take this job if I'm already getting disability benefits?"
- "I'm ready for a job" -- I've finished school and am ready to look for work.
Reading the story connected with each of the scenarios takes a visitor through the kinds of initial questions about how benefits work; then offers information, resources and strategies and warns about potential pitfalls. Following "Deanna's story," ("Can I take this job"?) leads a visitor to pages that explain
What happens when I work while receiving benefits from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program?
What are Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs)?
If I have to stop working after I used all of Social Security's work incentives, can I re-apply for benefits without submitting a new application?
What happens if you don't have documentation?
What happens if you get bad information?
There's also information on how to find a Benefits Planner and links to various Social Security programs and application information.