WIP-C credentialing program impacts thousands of lives

As a trained work incentive practitioner, Milton Johnson assists people with disabilities with managing benefits while returning to work and gaining financial independence
Milton Johnson sitting at a computer Caption: Milton Johnson
large quote mark
I know how scary it is to even think about going to work and losing benefits, but armed with the information that I received in the training, and working for this agency, I can let folks know that they can work.”
Milton Johnson
The Choice Group employee

For a person who wants to rely less on disability-related benefits from the government and more on their own income, it can be challenging to best use the available benefits and work incentives. Milton Johnson, a former student in the unique Work Incentive Practitioner Credential program at the Yang-Tan Institute (YTI) and an employee at The Choice Group, knows about this both personally and professionally.

Prior to joining The Choice Group in 2015, Johnson was a qualified mental health professional. However, due to illness, he was out of work for about five years and began receiving disability benefits. “I know from both sides,” Johnson said. “I know from a person who gets benefits how scary it is to even think about going to work and losing those benefits, but armed with the information that I received in the training, and working for this agency, I can let folks know that they can work. They can work, they just have to follow the rules.”

Johnson explained, “It’s helped by giving me the confidence when I’m meeting with someone and Social Security has told them one thing, I have the confidence to say no, that’s not correct and this is what you need to do. I can actually show them in Social Security’s rule book where these things exist.”

Ray Cebula, a premier expert in disability benefits law in the United States and director of the credentialing program at YTI, hears similar testimonials from people all over the United States after they complete the course.

Ray Cebula Caption: Ray Cebula

“What we do really matters. It makes my heart very happy!” said Cebula. “We have been able to train thousands of work incentives specialists, like Milton, through our program, and they are counseling thousands of people with disabilities. These certified specialists are helping individuals make informed decisions about entering or returning to work and increasing their financial well-being.”

The credentialing program trains participants to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving career and financial goals while navigating complex public benefits. During the program, participants learn about the Social Security Administration, its disability programs, and all the work incentives that can enhance work efforts and gradually replace benefits with earnings.

“Most individuals have a portfolio of benefits from various state and federal agencies and these must also be understood and handled during the return-to-work process,” said Cebula. “Through the program, practitioners learn how to translate complex concepts and responsibility in a way that the new worker can use to take steps to work and self-management.”

Robin Metcalf, president of The Choice Group where Johnson works, enthused, “The Cornell training has been a really big part, I think, not only of our growth, but also of really increasing my comfort level with the services we provide to our clients.”

The credentialing program is the only independent and research-based program of its kind in the United States. It is offered through both pre-arranged, intensive in-person sessions and through a webinar series at YTIOnline. A scientifically designed examination and practicum follow and result in credentialing as a work incentive practitioner.

The program continues to grow each year across the United States. Cebula credits the expansion to the success of earlier benefits planning training efforts and the acceptance by federal and state agencies that planning a return to work is the most effective way to succeed.

Find out more information about the WIP-C™ credentialing program at YTIOnline.