Nancy McMillan, Coordinator – Benefits Counseling Project
The goal of ACHIEVA Family Trust’s United Way Project – Employment Benefits Counseling (EBC) is to provide a comprehensive, practical and beneficial tool to those individuals who want to work, or are already working. Using a TEAM approach, EBC assists individuals and their families in understanding which government benefits may be affected by earned income. The emphasis is to develop a work history while maintaining a “safety net” of support services in the community. People with lifelong disabilities tend to have more needs as they age, and maintaining a solid support system is extremely important to their safety and well-being. Income and budgeting are major issues for the consumer to understand, as well as how to report their wages to government entities, particularly social security and medical assistance. EBC TEAM members are PA Health Law Project for Medicaid issues, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for job training and placement, AHEDD for work incentives and planning regarding SSI/SSDI, ACHIEVA Employment Services which contract with OVR, and United Way of Southwestern PA. The program also draws input from SSA through its Public Affairs Specialist. Collectively, EBC collaborates to educate consumers and resolve matters of government benefits pertaining to earned income.