Work is Now Possible Thanks to WIPA
Rejoining the Workforce
William R. Jiang, MLS
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Once I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1992, it was ten years before I was able to join the workforce again. I did not want to lose my medical benefits because of work. What allowed me to go back to work was a work incentives program like WIPA. The groundwork for the WIPA (Work Incentive Planning and Assistance) programs was laid with bipartisan support during the Clinton Administration. The legislation I am referring to is called The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.
I now work as a professional librarian at the NYS Psychiatric Institute's Patient and Family Library (http://nyspi.org/Kolb/nyspi_pf_library/index.html). I am reaching out to many of NYC mental health facilities via telephone, NAMI NYC Metro, and City Voices to spread the word that it is possible for us to get a good job.
The WIPA work incentives programs serve as an intermediary between Social Security and the worker, allowing the mental health consumer to work. One of the most exciting programs that the WIPA can help with is the Medicaid Buy-In. With this program, in New York State, the worker can buy Medicaid and have a gross income as high as $53,028 for an individual and $71,028 for a couple. There are other great work incentives for workers. You can contact the WIPA offices for more information.
I worked with Goodwill, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene (RFMH), and City University of New York (The John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute), to put up a "one-stop-shopping" website that makes it easy for people to learn about the WIPA Programs in New York’s five boroughs. The website is hosted at http://www.kd3qc.com/nyc_wipa. Though this site specifically highlights WIPA in New York City, it can lead people all over the United States to their respective WIPA Programs.
For those without internet access, the following numbers can help you contact a WIPA office: Brooklyn WIPA, call: 718- 246-7855, Queens WIPA call: 718-786-2594, Manhattan and Staten Island WIPA call: (212) 385-3030 x 3139, and for Bronx WIPA call: (212) 652-2030.
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