[News from ADA-Ohio] Go Viral Action Alert – Stop planned national shut down of WIPA & PABSS

Begin forwarded message:

From: adaohio@aol.com
Date: June 19, 2012 6:20:25 PM EDT
To: ada-ohio@listserve.com, houstoncil@yahoo.com
Subject: [News from ADA-Ohio] Go Viral Action Alert – Stop planned national shut down of WIPA & PABSS
Reply-To: adaohio@aol.com

Go Viral
Action Alert

Together,
we can stop the planned national shut down of the Social Security WIPA and PABSS
employment support counseling services.

 

 

Request
that President Obama, Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, and key
members of Congress lead now to support American workers with
disabilities!

Take Action
Today! The Action Alert tools you need, the email address links, bullet points
and a Sample Letter are all supplied below. Forward this email, or share it on
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by clicking their icons at the top of the Action
Alert.

 

New
Information from Senate Committee on Appropriations!

Advocates,
you are making a difference, but there is still much work left to
do!

We
have new evidence that your efforts are working, and reason to fight harder than
ever to prevent the national shutdown of WIPA and PABSS. The new Senate
Appropriations Labor HHS Bill has report language that strongly
encourages the Commissioner of Social Security to continue these programs, and
to use his authority to extend WIPA and PABSS grants as soon as possible for up
to 1 year. Here is a direct excerpt from the Committee Report:

“Work
Incentives Planning and Assistance [WIPA] and Protection and Advocacy for
Beneficiaries of Social Security [PABSS].—The WIPA and PABSS programs provide
valuable services to disabled beneficiaries, particularly in helping them return
to work. However, because of a delay in the reauthorization process, WIPA
grantees have been told they will have to shut down at the end of June 2012 and
PABSS grantees at the end of September 2012. The Committee strongly encourages
SSA to use fiscal year 2012 funds, and the broad authority provided in annual
appropriations language, to continue these programs. Specifically, the Committee
encourages SSA to extend current WIPA and PABSS grants as soon as possible for a
short period of time, up to 1 year, to prevent any disruption in services. If
there are subsequent changes to the programs, through reauthorization or
otherwise, this would give the Agency ample time to run a new competition and
make new awards without unnecessarily creating a gap in services. In addition,
the Committee recommendation for fiscal year 2013 includes $23,000,000 for WIPA
and $7,000,000 for PABSS.”

 

Crisis
Statement
: Many Social Security Disability Beneficiaries want jobs now. The
current do-nothing Congress and Social Security’s top leadership are failing
Social Security disability beneficiaries who work or want to work.

Crisis
Background
: The Commissioner of Social Security, Michael Astrue, recently
announced that he plans to shut down Social Security’s vital employment support
counseling services for its disability beneficiaries who make it into the
workforce. Social Security has funded these mandated counseling services
nationwide since 2000.

Social
Security Commissioner Astrue to the US Congress March 9, 2012:

“Absent
Congress’ reauthorization of these programs, we plan to stop them when the FY
2011 grants expire.”

These
employment and benefits counseling services will end either June 30 or September
30, 2012 because of his decision.

Just as the
economy is starting to improve, the Commissioner of Social Security is shutting
down Social Security's Work Incentives, Planning and Assistance counseling
programs (WIPA) and its Protection and Advocacy for Social Security
Beneficiaries counseling programs (PABSS).

Shutting
these programs down means that thousands of Social Security disability
beneficiaries who are planning to work, or who are working today, will have
severely limited access to the correct federal and state rules and procedures
for their work and benefits situation. With the shutdown, disability
beneficiaries will have little to no help with complicated return to work rules
when they encounter employment and SSA-related problems.

What WIPA
and PABSS Grants Do
: Work Incentives Planning Assistance (WIPA) grants go to
local non-profits and other agencies to support outreach, education and benefits
counseling services to Social Security disability beneficiaries about work
incentives and services for finding, maintaining and advancing in employment,
including the Social Security Ticket to Work program.

WIPA grantees
inform beneficiaries of the impact that employment will have on their disability
income and medical coverage, and address real fears that individuals have about
going to work at the risk of losing their health care coverage.

The
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program was
created in 1999 to protect the rights of beneficiaries as they plan to work and
take jobs. PABSS provides information and advice about obtaining vocational
rehabilitation and employment services; information and referral services to
beneficiaries on work incentives; advocacy or other legal services that a
beneficiary needs to secure, maintain, or regain gainful employment including
investigation and remedy of complaints of employment discrimination and other
civil and legal rights violations.

Despite this
extensive set of duties and growing demand for services, the WIPA and PABSS
programs have been flat funded at the same levels since 1999.

Rapid
Response
: Together, we can stop the planned national shut down of the Social
Security WIPA and PABSS employment support counseling services.

We
request that President Obama ask the Commissioner of Social Security, Michael J.
Astrue, and the U.S. Congress to lead, collaborate, and stop the
counterproductive closure of these programs at the wrong time for our growing
economy.

There is
opportunity as the economy improves to demonstrate that, as Americans with
significant disabilities, we are part of the U.S. economic recovery plan. Use
the Rapid Response Letter Template below to make you voice
heard!

Key
Request to President Barack Obama and to Commissioner of Social Security Michael
J. Astrue
:

“Like
taxes, Social Security work rules are complicated! We request that you work
harder with Congress to reauthorize the WIPA and PABSS employment support
counseling programs.”

Contact
President Barack Obama through Gene B. Sperling, Director of the National
Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at gsperling@who.eop.gov.

Contact the
Commissioner of Social Security, Michael J. Astrue, by email at Michael.Astrue@ssa.gov.

Key
Request to House and Senate Leaders and your Congress Members
:

“Reauthorize
the national WIPA and PABSS programs in all U.S. states and territories for
five years. The 1999 Ticket to Work Act’s counseling services are foundational
to help increase employment for Americans with disabilities who experience
long breaks from the workforce, or who are starting work for the first
time.”

Contact The
Honorable Sam Johnson
Chair of
the US House Subcommittee on Social Security
through his
Facebook page,
by phone at
202-225-4201,
by fax at
202-225-1485,
or by mail
at: US House Subcommittee on Social Security
1211
Longworth Building
Washington,
DC, 20515.
He can be
reached at his Texas District Office
by phone at
972-470-0892
or by mail
at: 2929 North Central Expressway, Suite 240
Richardson,
Texas 75080.

Contact The
Honorable Xavier Becerra
Ranking
Member of the US House Subcommittee on Social Security
through his
Facebook page,
by phone at
202-225-6235,
by fax at
202-225-2202, or by mail at: US House Subcommittee on Social
Security
1226
Longworth House Office Building
Washington,
D.C. 20515.
He can be
reached at his Los Angeles District Office
by phone at
213-483-1425,
by fax at
213-483-1429
or by mail
at: 1910 W Sunset Boulevard, Suite 810
Los
Angeles, CA 90026

Rapid
Response Letter Template

Edit and use
this template to send your personal messages to President Obama (via Gene
Sperling), the Commissioner of Social Security Michael J. Astrue, and the key
Members of Congress listed above.

 

[Date]

[Name and
Title]

[Address]

 

Dear
[Name]:

 

Our improving
economy must be accessible to Americans with a significant disability like
me.

 

I
ask you to act now to stop the shut down, and to help continue Social Security’s
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program. Please work with Social
Security and Congress to promote and ensure the program’s Congressional
reauthorization.

 

Social
Security Commissioner Astrue alerted Congress March 9, 2012 that he will shut
down the WIPA Program on June 30, 2012 unless Congress acts to reauthorize the
WIPA program. Commissioner Astrue added he will shut down the Protection and
Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program on September 30,
2012.

 

The Social
Security Administration (SSA) sent a draft bill to the House of Representatives
and the Senate early in January, 2012; no bill has been formally introduced to
date. Without Congressional action, SSA plans to shut down the WIPA program,
although SSA may have Administrative funds to extend the program while Congress
takes action to reauthorize the program.

 

Social
Security work rules remain complicated! Social Security disability beneficiaries
need the WIPA program when they pursue their employment and economic
self-sufficiency goals. WIPA Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs)
provide beneficiaries with accurate information to enable them to obtain
employment, and reduce dependence on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefits.

 

CWIC
counseling can ease a beneficiary’s fears of unsuccessful work attempts, loss of
necessary health care, and can help with other case specific issues during
transitions to employment and self-sufficiency.

 

As
an American with a disability [or as a consumer of the WIPA program],
[Insert your
Personal Comments / Experiences Here].

 

I
request you to please help stop the shutdown of the WIPA and PABSS programs.
Collaborate with Representatives and Senators to approve legislation that
continues these invaluable programs that support employment and add taxpayers to
our workforce.

 

Thank you for
your time, review, and consideration of this matter.

 

Respectfully
Submitted:

 

 

[Your
Name]

[Your Home
Address]

[Address Line
2]

[Phone Number
(Optional)]

[E-mail
address (Optional)]

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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