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Get REAL: Public Benefits

February 18, 2010

Sharon Brent

Welcome to Real Economic Impact’s Get REAL (Reliable Experts, Answers & Lessons) series: reliable advice re: your economic concerns from leading money, legal, and financial experts from around the country. 

This week’s Get REAL expert is Sharon Brent, Director of Training and Technical Assistance for Real Economic Impact, a vision of the National Disability Institute. Sharon is also a parent of an adult son with cerebral palsy.

Q: Why it is important for individuals with disabilities, parents and family members, teachers, support coordinators, and rehabilitation counselors to know more about public benefits

A: Simply put… because knowledge is power!!! People need accurate information about public benefits and how they impact employment, housing, and asset development. A person who is receiving federal and state supports and wants to earn wages has a wide array of programs they may be qualified for while maintaining eligibility for health insurance like Medicaid, Medicaid Waivers and Medicare.

Some federal programs include employment supports (Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid) and other work incentives through the Social Security Administration. There are other federal and state incentives and programs that enhance successful employment including the Medicaid Buy In Program, tax credits through the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration and asset building options and strategies.

Most importantly, getting and staying informed about public benefits resources reduces fear and misunderstanding and leads to having more money to live on and a better quality of life.

Our Get REAL blog series welcomes your questions. Simply e-mail us at

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