The SSA’s Ticket to Work Program

We’ve all heard stories of people who have tried to pull one over on the Social Security Administration (and sometimes successfully). But for every person who would rather collect disability benefits than work for a living, there are several Social Security disability benefits recipients who would love to go back to work if they were able to do so.

One of the major hindrances which has kept those who are receiving disability benefits from trying to find some form of employment they can maintain with their disabling condition is the fear that disability benefits will be cut and they will find that they aren’t able to perform the work in their condition after all. Given how long it can take to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, it’s no small wonder that people are hesitant to put themselves in the disadvantageous position of having to go through the whole process again.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. The SSA’s Ticket to Work program provides a means by which people who are receiving Social Security disability benefit payments to try going back to work or training for another vocation without needing to worry about losing their benefits.

The ticket to work program is voluntary. No one is required to participate. For those who do choose to participate, vocational training and work opportunities are made available at no charge. Those in the program continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as continuing to be eligible for medical benefits.

As with any other form of income you have while you are on SSDI or SSI, the amount of benefits you receive can be affected by your earnings. If your earnings are high enough that you no longer qualify for SSDI or SSI, you will stop receiving the benefit payments. However, should you be unable to continue working because of your disabling condition, you can receive an expedited reinstatement.

When you receive an expedited reinstatement, you will begin receiving Social Security disability benefit payments again right away. These benefit payments are provisional, and the SSA will need to determine that you are still eligible for benefits, but it does allow you to start receiving them immediately, so that you don’t need to fear a lengthy waiting period.
Those who are interested in the program should contact the SSA field office in your area. The SSA will help you find Employment Networks in your area which are approved for the Ticket to Work program. In addition to helping you find suitable employment, they will help with vocational training and with various support services. You may use the various programs in Ticket to Work either to find employment or to pursue self-employment.

The program benefits the SSA in that they are able to help those who are able to retrain for new kinds of work to become self sufficient and to eventually stop needing Social Security disability benefits. It benefits disabled persons by giving them a chance to pursue meaningful employment in which they can earn more than their benefits payments without fear of losing their benefits if they find they cannot continue working. All in all, Ticket to Work presents a win-win situation for everyone involved.