Yesterday President Bush signed into law H.R. 6081, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (“the HEART Act”), making AmeriCorps more accessible to people with disabilities.
The HEART Act contains a provision CNCS has been seeking that excludes AmeriCorps benefits from being counted as income for purposes of eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This extends the long-time AmeriCorps VISTA income disregard for SSI to all AmeriCorps positions. An SSI recipient who enrolls in AmeriCorps will no longer risk the loss of SSI benefits or eligibility as a result of participating in AmeriCorps. While the law does not extend to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it removes a significant barrier to participation for SSI recipients.