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The Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act makes AmeriCorps more accessible to people with disabilities because it directs the Social Security Administration to exclude AmeriCorps benefits (living allowance, health insurance, education award, etc.) when considering an individual’s eligibility for SSI. The HEART Act became a significant barrier removal for individuals with disabilities who are SSI beneficiaries. Today, because of the passage of the HEART Act, AmeriCorps benefits are not considered “countable income” or Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and will not impact an individual’s eligibility for SSI.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI), under the HEART Act, is not affected by the AmeriCorps living allowance granted to AmeriCorps members from any stream of service (i.e. AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, NCCC).
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) may be affected by the AmeriCorps living allowance for AmeriCorps State and National and NCCC members. Unfortunately, SSDI was not provided for under the HEART Act. However, this does not automatically mean that it will affect SSDI benefits. The monthly limit for wages for 2011 under SSDI is $1000. For individuals who have never worked before, there is a 9 month trial/transition period followed by a 3 month grace period before their wages begin to affect SSDI. AmeriCorps would fit into this category in many cases. Potential members should contact their WIPA office for assistance.
Indiana Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) have two offices in the state to assist people with their Social Security benefits. Members and potential members who are already on SSI and/or SSDI may contact the office appropriate to the county where they will be serving for assistance from a WIPA counselor.
Indiana Works – Northern and Central Indiana
Anderson, IN 46012
Indiana Works – Southern Indiana
1579 S. Folsomville Rd.
Boonville, IN 47601
People who qualify for SSI and SSDI who wish to be a part of Indiana AmeriCorps are encouraged to take the provided Program Operations Manual System (POMS) with them when discussing benefits with a WIPA coordinator. These will assist the benefits counselor in navigating the legal issues surrounding Social Security and AmeriCorps.
POMS for AmeriCorps and NCCC are available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0500830537
POMS regarding SSDI benefits are available at https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0410505025.
Contains extensive tools for building inclusive service environments. Also has a helpful glossary of terms related to disability inclusion and moving testimonies of positive disability inclusion experiences. An initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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