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Employment Support at ECI

What is WIPA ?

The Endependence Center’s Project WISE-East Work Incentive Services for Employment is a WIPA Project.

This WIPA Project provides you with the knowledge you need to make informed choices about employment. Our Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) provide FREE individualized benefits counseling for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries with disabilities who are working, or are about to begin working. Work Incentives make it possible for you to keep your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or health care benefits while you test your ability to work.


Services provided by our WIPA Project include:

  • Benefits Planning and Advisement;
  • Problem Solving and Advocacy;
  • Benefits Support Planning;
  • Independent Living Supports:
  • Addressing barriers to employment; and
  • Information and Referral.


Learn more about Social Security Work Incentives:

  • Trial Work Period;
  • Extended Period of Eligibility;
  • Unsuccessful Work Attempt;
  • Impairment Related Work Expenses;
  • Earned Income Exclusion;
  • Subsidy and Special Conditions;
  • Unincurred Business Expenses;
  • Plan to Achieve Self Support;
  • Property Essential to Self-Support;
  • Blind Work Expenses;
  • Student Earned Income Exclusion;
  • Medicaid 1619A and 1619B;
  • Extended Medicare;
  • Expedited Reinstatement; and
  • Medicaid Works (VA residents only).


Learn how other Federal, State, and local programs, such as TANF, Section-8 Housing Vouchers, Childcare Assistance Programs, etc., are impacted by employment. Work Incentives are specific to the type of benefit you receive.


Additional referral information: 


This document is funded through a Social Security cooperative agreement. Although Social Security reviewed this website for accuracy, it does not constitute an official Social Security communication.

What is SSI / SSDI ?

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. These two programs are different in many ways, the Social Security Administration administers both, and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes):

  • It is designed to help aged, blind, and people with disabilities, who have little or no income; and
  • It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to individuals who have acquired a disability and are unable to do substantial work. SSDI benefits may be payable to certain family members as well. In order to qualify for SSDI, an individual must have paid Social Security taxes and earned enough work credits.

For more information on these two programs, visit

This document is funded through a Social Security cooperative agreement. Although Social Security reviewed this document for accuracy, it does not constitute an official Social Security communication.

Getting Started

The WIPA Project can provide you with assistance if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Who is eligible for WIPA Services?

WIPA services are FREE and you must be:

  • Between 14 years old and full retirement age;
  • Currently eligible for SSI and/or SSDI benefits; and
  • Working or about ready to begin working or increasing employment.

You may want to contact a CWIC if you receive Social Security disability benefits and you are:

  • Considering employment;
  • Concerned about how working might affect your healthcare benefits;
  • Starting a new job or changing your hours;
  • Want to know what would happen if you are no longer able to work;
  • Interested in returning to school; or
  • Seeking a job but need help with your search.

Counseling support is provided by a CWIC who has received approved training from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and certification through Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

Our CWICs:

  • Provide work incentives planning and assistance;
  • Help you and your family determine if you are eligible for Federal or State work incentive programs;
  • Refer you to local Employment Networks or State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies such as DARS or DBVI;
  • Provide general information about potential employer-based or federally subsidized health benefits coverage available to you once you enter the workforce; and
  • Inform you of the available protection and advocacy services.

For general information about your SSI/SSDI, and how working will affect your benefits, contact the Social Security Ticket to Work Help Line:

Monday through Friday ~ 8 am to 8 pm (EST)

1-866-968-7842 (V)

1-866-833-2967 (TTY)

Project WISE-East provides assistance to Social Security beneficiaries in some areas of Virginia and Washington DC. Contact your local CWIC for more information.

Linda Johnson, CWIC
Endependence Center Inc. (ECI)
Phone: (757) 351-1577
Toll free: (866) 323-1088
TTY: (757) 461-7527
Frances Durham, CWIC
Endependence Center Inc. (ECI)
Phone: (757) 351-1594
Toll free: (866) 323-1088
TTY: (757) 461-7527
Service Areas: Cities of Chesapeake; Emporia; Franklin; Hampton; Newport News; Norfolk; Poquoson; Portsmouth; Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. Counties of Accomack; Essex; Gloucester; Greensville; Isle of Wight; James City; King and Queen; King William; Lancaster; Mathews; Middlesex; Northampton; Northumberland; Richmond; Southampton; Surry; Sussex; Westmoreland, and York.
Kimberly Pierce, CWIC and Manager – Infinity Support Services
Phone: 1-888-466-2942 x20
Service Area: Washington, DC

WIPA services require verification of all benefits you are receiving, which enables us to give you accurate individualized information. CWICs need to know what benefits you receive, if you have used work incentives in the past, and if there are additional factors that can impact the decisions you make about work as they relate to your benefits. Verification of Social Security benefits requires the CWIC to use a Benefits Planning Query (BPQY). The CWIC will ask you to complete several release forms that are sent to Social Security to obtain a copy of your BPQY. Once the CWIC receives your BPQY, which could take several weeks, the CWIC will contact you.

For further information, visit or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at their toll-free numbers, 1-866-968-7842 (v) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or visit their website at

This document is funded through a Social Security cooperative agreement. Although Social Security reviewed this website for accuracy, it does not constitute an official Social Security communication.

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