Legislation introduced to continue WIPA and PABSS programs

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and 16 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 6061, the “WIPA and PABSS Continuation of Services Act of 2012.” The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program funds Community Work Incentive Coordinators who help beneficiaries of Social Security’s disability programs understand their options for pursuing opportunities to work. WIPA funds over 100 projects across the nation. The Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program provides beneficiaries with information, advice, advocacy and other services that beneficiaries may need to find, keep, or regain employment. PABSS funds 57 grantees in every state and in U.S. territories.

Both programs are permanently authorized, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses its annual appropriation for the agency’s overall operating expenses to fund the grantees.  Congress has several times adopted bipartisan legislation to extend SSA’s specific authorization to use already-appropriated operating budget funds.  Currently, there is funding to sustain WIPA until June 30, 2012 and PABSS until September 30, 2012, at which point the programs will cease operations.  H.R. 6061 would continue WIPA and PABSS by removing any ambiguity in existing law about SSA’s authority to continue WIPA and PABSS grants.  The bill removes a conflicting provision from the statute that authorized a particular amount and time frame for funding of the WIPA and PABSS programs.  It leaves in place the underlying provisions that permanently establish the two programs, including the standing authorization for SSA to use its annual operating budget to fund them.  The Arc supports efforts to continue WIPA and PABSS.