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TRENTON - The Department of Human Services’ Division of Disability Services (DDS), in partnership with the World Institute on Disability (WID), has launched an upgraded version of New Jersey Disability Benefits 101 (NJDB101), DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez announced today.  The online program enables people with disabilities to calculate the amount of income they can earn, without jeopardizing their disability benefits.“Employment empowers everyone to gain financial stability and a sense of personal achievement and people with disabilities are no different,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “NJDB101 serves as a tool for individuals, whose disability benefits remain essential, to make informed decisions about employment.”

New Jersey is one of only four, state-specific sites offering the benefits calculator.  Residents can access NJDB101 on DHS’ website.   The calculator prompts users for information, such as the amount and type of disability benefits the person receives.

“NJDB101 helps users better understand the relationship between earned income and disability benefits, as well as work incentives within disability benefit programs,” said Joseph Amoroso, Director of DDS. “The web program also provides users with contact information for an employment counselor, who can work directly with an individual when planning employment.”

In addition, the benefits calculator is useful for individuals participating in NJ WorkAbility, a program that offers full New Jersey Medicaid health coverage to people with disabilities who are working, and whose earnings would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid. NJ WorkAbility was created by the federal Ticket to Work/Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 and Chapter 116 of PL2000 of New Jersey.

Statistically, people with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, determined that the national unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 16.1 percent, compared with 8.5 percent for those with no disability (September 2011). 
NJDB101 is funded by a grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is part of the California-based WID’s Employment and Disability Benefits Initiative, created to provide information on health coverage, employment and disability benefits to youth and adults with disabilities.
Governor Chris Christie has issued a proclamation declaring October in New Jersey National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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