Since 2000, Taconic Resources for Independence, Inc. (TRI), through a grant from Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene, has provided social security benefits advice to individuals with disabilities in Dutchess County. Our Mobile Benefits Counselor conducts workshops for both staff and consumers at numerous agencies, and works with people individually to address their issues. Our Mobile Benefits Counselor travels to sites throughout Dutchess County, assisting individuals to understand and navigate the intricacies of the various government programs.

The most common question is: “How will employment affect my benefits?” Each person’s situation is unique, but Social Security rules apply to all in the same way. We can help you understand Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Trial Work Period (TWP), Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), Income Related Work Expense (IRWE), Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS), Medicaid (Buy-in Program and Spend-downs), Medicare, Ticket to Work, overpayments, and other benefits.

Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenue, not Social Security taxes. The SSI program provides monthly income to people who are 65 or older, blind or disabled, and have limited income and financial resources. It provides cash assistance to meet basic needs, e.g., clothing, food, and shelter. Your living arrangements, earned and unearned income, your assets, and in-kind support determine eligibility. You can be eligible for SSI even if you have never contributed to Social Security. In New York State, if you receive SSI, you automatically receive Medicaid.

Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed individuals. To be eligible for a Social Security Benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on a taxable work to be ‘insured’ for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow/widower, or adults disabled since childhood. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the individual.

What is the Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working People with Disabilities?

The Medicaid Buy-In Program offers Medicaid coverage to people with disabilities who work and earn more than the allowable limits for regular Medicaid the opportunity to retain their health care coverage through Medicaid. This program allows working people with disabilities to earn more income without the risk of losing vital health care coverage.

Who is Eligible?

To qualify for the Medicaid Buy-In Program (MBI) for Working People with Disabilities (WPD) you must:

  • Be a resident of New York State;
  • Be at least 16 years old (coverage up to 65 years old);
  • Have a disability as defined by the Social Security Administration;
  • Be engaged in paid work (includes part-time and full-time work);
  • Have a gross income that may be as high as $63,492 for an individual and $85,572 for a couple; and
  • Have non–exempt resources that do not exceed the MBI–WPD resource level of $20,000 for a one–person household and $30,000 for a two–person household.

NOTE: Retirement accounts are disregarded in determining eligibility for this program. Retirement accounts are annuities or work–related plans for providing income when employment ends. They include but are not limited to: pensions, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans, and Keogh plans.


Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage Renal Disease.


For more details on how to enroll in Medicare, contact:

Mandi Sheraden
Mobile Benefits Counselor

(845) 452.3913 Ext. 119


Recommended sites:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Medicaid Application

Medicaid Questions & Answers