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Reauthorize the WIPA

August 25, 2012
The Leader Herald

For the past few years, I have worked as a benefits counselor at the Resource Center for Independent Living, which is a not-for-profit disability rights organization offering a wide range of independent living and advocacy services for people with disabilities.

My role as a benefits counselor under the Mid-New York Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program ended June 30, due to a lack of action on the part of both the president's administration and Congress to re-authorize funding for this program.

The WIPA program provided benefit counseling services to consumers who receive Social Security disability benefits who were worried about losing their benefits once they returned to work.

I was able to advise consumers how work would impact their SSA benefits as well as their state benefits such as food stamps, Home Energy Assistance Program, etc. and educate them on work incentives available to them based on the benefits they received.

It is estimated that half-a-million individuals with disabilities were provided benefit counseling services throughout the United States by various agencies, all of whom lost funding. If the WIPA program continues to be eliminated, people with disabilities will have no alternative place to turn for benefits counseling services.

As an employee of RCIL, I respectfully urge Congress to reauthorize the program.

KENNETH OUELLETTE

Disability Rights Advocate

Resource Center for Independent Living

Amsterdam

 
 

 

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