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Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC)

If you receive Social Security benefits and you have a job or are looking for one, there are specially trained professionals known as Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) to help you make sense of complex employment and benefit-related issues.

CWICs educate beneficiaries on how employment will affect their public benefits such as SSISSDI, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidized housing and food stamps.


Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE) is a work incentive available to individuals who receive SSDI and/or SSI.   If you receive SSDI, IRWEs are used only if you have completed your Trial Work Period and are earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level, which is $1,090 per month in 2015 ($1,820 for those receiving benefits based on blindness). Numbers noted here are based on January 2015 rules.

An IRWE expense must be:

  • paid for out of your own pocket and not reimbursed by any other source;
  • related to a serious health condition;
  • necessary in order to work; and
  • approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Possible IRWE Expenses:

  • Attendant care costs in certain situations
  • Modification costs for vehicles and other items
  • Transportation costs in certain situations
  • Medical device costs
  • Medication costs
  • Medical service expenses
  • Out-of-pocket job coaching expenses

How can an IRWE help me?

  • If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are usually ineligible for a benefit check if you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level.  With an approved IRWE, SSA doesn’t count earnings you use to pay for certain expenses, which allows your SSDI benefits to continue even though you are earning more than the SGA level.
  • The cost of an IRWE may also be used when determining initial eligibility for SSDI and SSI, in order to reduce the individual’s countable income below SGA.

What else do I need to know?

IRWE rules require that specific criteria be met and specific documentation be kept. IRWEs also need to be approved by your local Social Security office before they can be considered to be in effect.

For more information about how IRWEs apply to your situation, contact the Work Incentives Connection.