Protection and Advocacy (PABSS) staff are responsible for providing legal services to social security recipients who are facing barriers in their efforts to return to work. Benefits Specialists are responsible for reaching out to all recipient communities within their territory to provide information and planning services when a recipient is considering a work effort.
In September of 2004, the Rhode Island BPA&O project noted that deaf and hard of hearing individuals were not utilizing benefits counseling services. A work group was created to address this situation and develop a strategy. The strategy included outreach to community groups and agencies serving deaf and hard of hearing individuals and aggressive referrals of deaf and hard of hearing individuals to benefits planners by the state’s vocational rehabilitation workers. In preparation for this work, benefits planners received training in using a TTY, placing calls through the Rhode Island Relay Service and effectively utilizing sign language interpreters.