Employment & Work Incentives

Employment & Work Incentives


SSI/SSDI overpayments may cause undue hardship for beneficiaries who are experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. This article provides tips for avoiding overpayments and steps to follow in the overpayment appeal/waiver process.

This page contains documents and information related to the CABHI: SOAR and IPS Learning Community and Pilot, which was held from 2016-2017.

The SOAR TA Center has gathered a number of employment resources and links for your reference.

Many employment services are federal programs that are available in most cities and some rural areas.  Other services are only available locally. The following is a general set of guidelines to learn about available employment services in your area. Employment services are often designated for specific eligibility groups.  Follow up with local contacts to confirm what services they provide and who is eligible.

This policy brief describes the benefits of its Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment service.

In July 2018 and updated in March 2019, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new tool for beneficiaries of Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability benefits, which helps demonstrate how income from employment and/or VA disability benefits will affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The SOAR Employment Conversation Guide is an excellent tool that can help caseworkers begin those tough, but important conversations about work.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask the applicant to complete an SSA-821 Work Activity Report if he/she continued to work after the alleged date of onset. This article provides additional information and tips for assisting applicants with this form. 

Case managers are encouraged to support individuals to pursue their vocational goals, both before and after applying for SSI/SSDI. This overview will briefly discuss how the Social Security Administration (SSA) views the work activity of an SSI/SSDI applicant, and the many work incentives available to beneficiaries.

Individuals with disabilities often have expenses related to their illnesses or conditions, expenses necessary to maintaining their health, recovery, and ability to work. Maintaining health care benefits can often be more valuable than the cash benefit.

There are a number of myths and misconceptions about returning to work after disability benefits begin. Work can be an important part of the recovery process and SOAR can assist in this effort.

SSDI provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are "insured" by workers' contributions to the Social Security trust fund. This article describes the SSDI return-to-work employment provisions.

Since SSI is based on need, SSA adjusts a person’s benefit amount based on the unearned and earned income they receive. There are income exclusions and other adjustments for people who are returning to work that help reduce countable income and maintain a higher benefit amount.

We encourage individuals to work and seek employment while applying for SSI/SSDI benefits. SOAR providers play a critical role in helping bust myths about working during the application process.


On this webinar, to be held on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, experts in Individualized Placement and Support (IPS) and benefits planning will share how SOAR providers can help SSI/SSDI beneficiaries to access these services.

On this webinar, held on October 29, 2020, we discussed SSA Work Incentives and other employment resources, busted some myths surrounding working while applying for and receiving benefits, and presented an updated issue brief from the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center.

Providing accurate work history information is absolutely vital to include in all SOAR applications. SSA uses this information to determine if the applicant is able to return to past work, or perform other work in the national economy. This webinar, the first in our "Completing Quality SOAR Applications" series, was held on April 25, 2018, and addressed strategies for obtaining accurate work history information. 

In this webinar, held on November 30, 2016, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and SOAR leaders discussed working while applying for and receiving SSA benefits.

This webinar, held on July 22, 2015, by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center featured researchers and trainers from the Dartmouth Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment Center.

Issue Briefs

SOAR extends beyond accessing SSI/SSDI and also encourages employment as a means to increase individual income and further promote recovery. This issue brief explores Individual Placement and Support (IPS), a model of supported employment that has been developed over the past 25 years specifically for people who have behavioral health needs. 

This issue brief, developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, describes: the misconceptions about employment and loss of disability benefits; how earned income from employment affects SSI/SSDI benefits and Medicare/Medicaid coverage; the employment resources and work incentives offered by SSA to current SSI/SSDI beneficiaries; and the role SOAR programs can play in connecting individuals to employment resources.

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