Achieva Family Trust Employment Benefits Counseling Program


Achieva Family Trust Employment Benefits Counseling Program

A group of young employees, one with down syndrome, stand shoulder to shoulder looking up and smiling at the camera
Article by Nancy McMillan, MSW, Benefits Counseling Specialist, Achieva Family Trust

If you are concerned about how your employment income may affect your government benefits, we can help. Discover how Achieva Family Trust Employment Benefits Counseling Program can assist you to achieve your employment goals.

The Employment Benefits Counseling (EBC) Project was funded July 1, 2017 with a generous grant from the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The project utilizes a TEAM approach in serving people with disabilities who want to work, or who are currently working. This TEAM consists of a representative from AHEDD, a specialized SSA Certified/WIPA (Work Incentive Planning Assistance) program, PA Health Law Project (PHLP), Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), Achieva Employment Supports, and United Way of Southwestern PA. We also value the input of our regional Community Affairs Specialist of SSA.

EBC employs a full-time coordinator, Laurie Zola, who is a certified Practitioner in the WIPA area. The TEAM approach allows us to assist individuals to learn about employment/wages, while maintaining certain government benefits.

Families/individuals may access our Employment Benefits Counseling Program as a one-stop resource model. Rather than navigating alone, the complex system of federal and state benefits, participants will be guided through the potential effects of wages on SSI, SSDI, Subsidies, Waivers, Medical Assistance, Medicare, HUD housing, Food Stamps, Rebates, Energy Assistance, etc.

The fear of losing even one government support creates a barrier to seeking employment. Our goal is to assist people to plan ahead financially, to seek employment and enjoy the rewarding world of work.

To schedule a no-cost consultation, or to have us share our EBC information virtually to groups, please call Laurie Zola or Nancy McMillan at 412.995.5000 or email to

Read the rest of this newsletter