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All national service programs are encouraged to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure participation of all individuals. Most accommodations are free or low cost. Current grantees can learn more about reasonable accommodations by referring to the program handbook at resources for grantees page.
CNCS recommends that all grantees use the Job Accommodation Network, otherwise known as “JAN,” to address any queries you have about accommodating people with disabilities in your program. This could even include the question of whether or not a particular health condition is indeed something that you need to provide accommodation for according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While JAN is not a tailored program specifically knowledgeable about the dynamics that arise within AmeriCorps programs, JAN has existed since the 1980’s, pre-dating the landmark ADA legislation and assists people operating countless types of programs and businesses. CNCS urges you to begin contacting JAN (contact information hyperlinked below) from this point forward.
JAN provides free, confidential consulting services for all partners, regardless of the size or type of service environment. Services include one-on-one consultation about all aspects of disability accommodations, including the accommodation process, accommodation ideas, product vendors, referral to other resources, and ADA compliance assistance. Partners can access JAN services in a variety of ways: via telephone, via email, and via “Jan On Demand.” JAN offers numerous publications on accommodation ideas, products and services: like the resource, the Employer’s Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Under the American’s with Disabilities Act and an ADA library.
JAN has been offering employers, employees, rehabilitation professionals, federal, state and local government entities and individuals with high quality information about disability accommodation since the early 1980’s. Their ability to engage in an interactive dialogue to address questions and concerns is invaluable and likely the reason why 32,000 - 38,000 people use their free resources and millions use their website each year. Even if you do not find the need to contact them, perusing their online resources will ensure you are well-prepared for whatever comes your way.
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
Indiana Works – Southern Indiana
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.
Who are People with Disabilities?
What We Mean when We Talk About Inclusion
Basic Facts about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
What is an Accommodation?
Definition of Undue Hardship
Guidelines on Disclosure
Summary of Disability Legislation
How to Help People with Disabilities Feel Welcome
* Reasonable accommodation and alternative formats available upon request *