Most people prefer to work for a living, even when they have earned Social Security benefits. Work is a big part of life. It contributes greatly to our sense of identity. It creates a community. It can be meaningful and life-sustaining.
People with disabilities don’t stop wanting those things just because they’re unable to work. Furthermore, it may be possible to regain some abilities over time with occupational therapy, for example. Your level of disability may not be fixed forever.
What happens if you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a disability, but you think you might be able to return to work? If you were to just get a job and hope for the best, it could jeopardize your benefits if things didn’t work out. Even working part-time could jeopardize the benefits you may need to survive.
Luckily, the Social Security Administration has a program that allows many SSDI and SSI beneficiaries to explore working while maintaining their benefits. It’s called the Ticket to Work program.
Not only does this allow you to explore working, but it provides free employment services to help you:
- Decide if working is right for you
- Find a job
- Maintain success at that job
These free services include employment counseling, job placement and training and vocational rehabilitation. You will have a team of professionals helping you as you reenter the workforce and see if you can become financially independent.
Who qualifies for Ticket to Work?
If you are between the ages of 18 and 64 and are a recipient of SSDI and/or SSI because of your own disability, you are eligible to participate in Ticket to Work.
You are not required to participate. The program is entirely voluntary and free.
The program entails setting specific, measurable goals and agreeing to a plan with specific steps. The goal might be, for example, to complete a training program or to earn a certain hourly wage. The idea is to reduce or eliminate your need for SSDI and SSI.
There will be certain steps you need to take to continue in the program. Meanwhile, Social Security will forego the medical continuing disability review, which is usually necessary to keep your benefits. This allows you to see how far you can go toward full-time work without jeopardizing the benefits you rely on.
If you’re interested in participating in Ticket to Work, you can verify your eligibility by calling the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). The help line will explain how the program works and help you connect with service providers in your area.