The goal of the Benefit Planning, Assistance, and Outreach (BPAO) Program is to better
enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work. Section
1149 of the Act, as added by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act
of 1999 (Public Law 106-170), requires SSA to award cooperative agreements (or grants
or contracts) to community-based organizations to provide all disabled beneficiaries
with access to benefits planning and assistance services. Cooperative agreements may
be awarded throughout every State, the District of Columbia, and the US Territories
of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Each BPAO Project has Benefits Specialists who will:
Provide work incentives planning and assistance to disabled beneficiaries;
Conduct outreach efforts to those beneficiaries (and their families),who are potentially
eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs, and
Work in cooperation with Federal, State, and private agencies and nonprofit organizations
that serve disabled beneficiaries.
TSC/SPIKE/FO/PC staff will inform beneficiaries who receive disability/blindness benefits
about the availability of BPAO services when those services may be needed and, whenever
applicable, refer individuals to appropriate SSA field personnel (e.g., claims representative,
technical assistant) to answer detailed questions about SSA's work incentives and
other employment support programs. Also, refer inquirers, if appropriate, to SSA's
internet web page, “the Work Site” at www.ssa.gov/work for additional information and BPAO contact information by State/territory.
SSA has contracted with three universities to provide technical assistance and training
to all BPAO Benefit Specialists on SSA's disability programs and work incentives,
the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and on other Federal work incentives programs.
The Technical Assistance and Training Centers are: Cornell University for Regions
I, II and V; Virginia Commonwealth University for Regions III, IV, VI and IX; and
the University of Missouri, Columbia for Regions VII, VIII and X. BPAO Program awardees
must provide training and technical assistance to their Benefit Specialists about
their own State and local programs and their effects on other programs' eligibility