Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Rehabilitation Counseling


Fred, Matthew W.


In the United States those with disabilities have few options for support outside of family and friends. For most persons with disabilities this support comes in the form of either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provided through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Throughout the years qualifying for these benefits has become a labor intensive process. During this process a person must demonstrate an inability to work under a definition that nearly requires a complete incapacity of the individual. This difficulty in qualifying has resulted in a long held belief among recipients that if one returns to work one will immediately lose one’s benefits. An examination of “Work Incentives” provided by SSA reveals the availability of regulations that will allow most beneficiaries to return to work while continuing to receive payments and maintain health coverage. These work incentives and how they work are discussed for both SSI and SSDI recipients. Special Exemptions for the blind are also provided. Examination of the literature illustrates the vast amount of information available for applying to receive Social Security benefits but there is a lack of discussion about employment and its impact on benefits thereafter.