Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee reported out by voice vote a legislative change that will make AmeriCorps more welcoming to people with disabilities.

H.R. 2997, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2007, contains a provision we have been seeking to exclude AmeriCorps benefits from being counted as income for purposes of eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Under current law, participation in the AmeriCorps VISTA program does not affect an individual’s eligibility for SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, participation in the AmeriCorps State and National and NCCC programs is not currently treated the same way, and some individuals have been directed to repay disability payments because they served in an AmeriCorps program other than VISTA.

The measure approved by the Committee takes an important first step by excluding AmeriCorps benefits from being counted as income for SSI eligibility, but it still leaves unchanged the SSDI program rules. We are committed to working with Congress and the Social Security Administration to address barriers faced by SSDI recipients to participating in AmeriCorps.

The bill must still be acted on by the full House and the Senate before it becomes law. We will update you when further action occurs. More information on this legislation is available at the Ways and Means Committee website.

In Service,

David Eisner