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Policy and Practice Briefs

#1: State & Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program

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This brief provides an introduction to the state and federal vocational rehabilitation system outlined in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It provides a review of how the vocational rehabilitation system is integrated within the broader Workforce Investment Act along with a break down for eligibility and available services. Discussed is financial need criteria, statutory requirements for maximization of employment, comparable services requirements and individual rights and appeals.

#2: State Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Programs

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This brief provides an indepth profile of the myriad of protection and advocacy programs mandated by Congress which include the mandate, legal authority, eligibility and examples. This includes protection and advocacy for the developmentally disabled; individuals with mental illness; individual rights; assistive technology; beneficiaries of Social Security; and, the Client Assistance Program.

#3: Funding of Assistive Technology to Make Work a Reality

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This brief provides a definition of assistive technology and a discussion of funding sources for assistive technology including: public schools; state vocational rehabilitation agencies; Medicaid; Medicare; and, SSA's Plan for Achieving Self Support. For each eligibility is reviewed along with other protections and rights.

#4: The Transition from School to Work

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This brief provides an overview of the transition requirements outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Reviewed are concepts of free appropriate public education, least restrictive environment; individual education programs; and, due process. The brief provides an illustrated case study along with a discussion of how special education and vocational rehabilitation intersect.

#5: Dealing with Post-Entitlement Issues

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This brief details sources of possible overpayments under the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance Program. Reviewed is the process for beneficiary notification of overpayment along with possible remedies and approaches to resolving overpayment issues.

#6: The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program

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This brief provides an indepth overview of the Ticket to Work Program. Discussed are eligibility requirements from both the beneficiary and Employment Network perspective; specific roles and functions; the Ticket to Work process; payment schedules; and dispute resolution strategies.

#7: Effect of Defaulted Student Loans on Return to Work Efforts

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This brief describes types of student loans that exist and effects of defaulted student loans on an individuals benefits. Reviewed are increased efforts to collect on defaulted student loans as well as remedies to take a loan out of default.

#8: Supporting the Employment Outcomes of SSI and SSDI Beneficiaries in Section 8 or Subsidized Housing

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This brief provides an overview of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program administered by Housing and Urban Development. Comparisons and contrasts between Family Self-Sufficiency, the Ticket to Work and Benefits Planning are drawn as is a template for combining these important employment resources to effect successful employment outcomes.

#9: Expanding Health Insurance Options

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This brief provides a framework for advising Social Security beneficiaries of their rights under private insurance contracts. Reviewed are basic insurance concepts; coverage issues; pre-existing condition clauses; COBRA; ERISA; and, appeal rights.

#10: Fifteen Years Along the Bumpy Road to Self Support

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This brief presents a fifteen case study reflecting on one person's lifelong pursuit of quality employment. Reviewed along the way are actual life events, supports the individual received and guidance and information presented to assist the person in making informed choices and connecting to critical resources needed to support employment.

#11: Medical Continuing Disability Reviews and Related Concepts

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This brief provides an overview of the policies and procedures governing the continuing disability review process within the Social Security Administration. Discussed are the Age 18 Redetermination process as well as practical tips for beneficiaries and their representative payees as they negotiate this continuing disability review process.

#12: PASS: SSI'S Plan for Achieving Self-Support

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This primer provides an in-depth overview of the Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS), a Supplemental Security Income work incentive program. Detailed is how the PASS can support self-directed vocational rehabilitation and it's impact on an individual's benefits as they progress toward their established work goal. The process for completing a PASS Application is also reviewed.

#13: Funding of Assistive Technology to Make Work a Reality, Part II

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This article is a continuation of "Funding Assistive Technology to Make Work a Reality" (Policy and Practice Brief #3). This brief reviews the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a particular emphasis on how the ADA can be used to ensure that a person with a disability has access to needed assistive technology to do their job, or to ensure the individual has access to the job site.

#14: Transition to Retirement Benefits

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The transition from being considered a "person with a disability" to a "retired individual" is becoming an increasingly important issue worth more study. This brief focuses on this pivotal transition in a person's life and discusses issues for BPA&O and PABSS practitioners.

#15: Practical Legal Research

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This brief discusses the topic of legal research within the context of government law, regulation and policy that defines an individual's rights. This document provides a practical framework for all the legal research typically demanded by a BPA&O and PABSS Program. It describes the sources of legal authority available, where they can be found, and when it is appropriate to do legal research. It further discusses when to access outside resources and provides tips for efficient use of these resources.

#16: Representative Payment

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This brief provides an overview of the Representative Payee program administered by Social Security. Discussed are the many provisions of the programs as well as practice tips and implications for BPA&O and PABSS personnel.

#17: Self-Employment and the Benefits Planning Process

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Many individuals with disabilities choose self-employment as their vocational goal which poses some interesting issues for the benefits planner. This brief explores the SSI and SSDI policies and procedures regarding self-employment and implications for benefits planning practice.

#18: Self-Employment and the Benefits Planning Process Part II -- The Case of Brenda Smith

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This brief explores the case of Brenda, a SSI recipient, who is interested in working toward a goal of self-employment. This case study explores the application of policies and procedures reviewed in Policy and Practice Brief #17 as they apply to Brenda.

#19: Administrative Offsets and Social Security Benefits

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This brief provides a summary of the Anti-Assignment Clause of the Social Security Act and administrative offsets. It provides a description of the child support offset, food stamp debt offset, student loan offset, and interim assistance recoupment. It concludes with a discussion of implications for BPA&O and PABSS Programs.

#20: Delivering Advocacy Services Through Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security Programs

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This brief explores two developments that have occurred to expand the services available through PABSS programs, including: a change in grant conditions to allow PABSS attorneys and advocates to handle work-related SSI and SSDI administrative appeals, including overpayments; and amendments, as part of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004, which allow PABSS attorneys and advocates to represent former cash beneficiaries who are getting continued health insurance coverage through either section 1619(b) (Medicaid While Working) or the extended Medicare. This brief describes both the original legislation creating PABSS and original PABSS grant conditions and how amendments to both have expanded who PABSS programs can represent and the type of issues they can handle.

#21: The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit

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This brief explores the Earned-Income Tax Credit which is a special tax benefit for working people who earn a low or moderate income. Reviewed are the specifics of the tax credit along with application for how it can support the career development aspirations of beneficiaries with disabilities.

#22: Administrative Finality

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This Policy and Practice Brief will explain when SSA's decisions become final and are no longer subject to appeal. The Brief will discuss how to overcome SSA's doctrine of administrative finality. Additionally, the Brief will explain the doctrines of reopenings and re judicata, how each works and how each may be overcome to ensure that claimants and recipients are not harmed by these doctrines.

#23: Order of Selection for Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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This Policy and Practice Brief will explore this federally-sanctioned Order of Selection option that is available to state VR agencies. We will explain what financial circumstances tend to lead a state to selecting this option and the alternatives that states may use to either avoid the Order of Selection or limit the individuals whose needs go unmet because the agency never gets to them on the waiting list.

#24: Medicaid and Persons with Disabilities

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This brief provides the reader with a practical guide to understanding the Medicaid program. It reviews services typically covered; eligibility criteria--how to establish and retain eligibility; typical program structure; and, the appeals system.

#25: Conducting Outreach to Transition-Aged Youth

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This brief focuses on strategies for assisting Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach Programs and Protection and Advocacy Projects in conducting outreach to transition-aged youth. Practical applications are identified and resources are provided to assist projects in reaching this untapped population.

#26: Planning Structured Settlement for Social Security Beneficiaries

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This Policy and Practice Brief will describe how the various SSA income and resource rules intersect with awards and/or settlements from legal proceedings. In addition, this Brief will provide a general overview of the common mechanisms utilized by trust and estates attorneys and other financial planners to protect an individual's continuing eligibility for public benefits.


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This brief provides an overview of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and Medicare Part D for BPAO/PABSS staff and Medicare beneficiaries who are working or interested in working. Included in the brief are detailed descriptions of Medicare Part Ds extra help, the formulary and access rules, the interaction of Medicare Part D with SSA work incentives and factors that should be considered in picking a Prescription Drug Plan. The brief also provides BPAO/PABSS with a framework of their roles and responsibilities in assisting individuals in understanding and navigating the Medicare Part D benefit.

#28: Expedited Reinstatement of Social Security or SSI Disability Benefits

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This policy and practice brief covers the expedited reinstatement (EXR) provisions, introduced into the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs in January 2001. While the EXR provisions apply to both SSDI and SSI benefits, their major impact is on SSDI beneficiaries.

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