By Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program Team
As people with disabilities consider finding work, whether it’s for the first time or returning after an absence, they may have questions. For people who receive Social Security disability benefits — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — the Ticket to Work (Ticket) program may have the answers.
Social Security’s Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive SSDI or SSI and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, eligible individuals work with service providers, like Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies, to receive free services and supports designed to help them move toward financial independence through work.
Often, people have questions about how work and wages will affect their benefits, including their Medicare, Medicaid and cash payments. But many service providers offer benefits counseling to review this with individuals. Certified Benefits Counselors can discuss an individual’s benefits and introduce other Social Security Work Incentives that may help during the transition to work.
What are Work Incentives?
Social Security Work Incentives are Social Security rules and programs designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to work and not immediately lose their medical benefits and, in some cases, their cash payments from Social Security. More than 20 Work Incentives exist, meaning it’s likely that individuals will find a support or a combination of supports that fit their unique situations.
For example, the Trial Work Period (TWP) is available for people who receive SSDI. The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months in a rolling 60 month period. During your TWP, you receive full SSDI benefits regardless of how much you earn. You must also report your work activity to Social Security and continue to have a disabling impairment. During your TWP, you have the opportunity to work and earn income as you figure out whether sustained employment is right for you. It also gives you the time to adapt and determine if and how requesting and receiving reasonable accommodations helps you succeed in the workplace.
Maybe you receive SSI (or can become eligible for SSI) and have a specific work goal in mind. You know that reaching that goal will require equipment, education or certifications that you’re unable to pay for with your benefits and resources. In this situation, you may apply for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). Once your PASS is approved by Social Security, this Work Incentive allows you to set aside resources to pay for the equipment, education or training you need to reach your goal. And these Social Security-approved funds and resources won’t affect your eligibility for SSI.
A Pass to Success
Laura knew she wanted to help people who, like her, experienced limb loss. Find out how a Social Security-PASS helped her make that happen in Guiding the Way Forward: Laura’s Success Story
Where can I learn more?
Social Security’s Red Book is a comprehensive guide to supports and services available for people who receive SSDI/SSI. Check it out to discover Work Incentives and find details on each one. You can also:
- Visit ssa.gov: The Choose Work website provides information about Work Incentives and about getting started on the path to financial independence through work. In the Library, you can find fact sheets with even more detail about Work Incentives and read about individuals who found success through the Ticket program.
- Subscribe to the Choose Work! Blog: In addition to information about Social Security programs and resources, discover financial-wellness resources and job search tips and advice that may help you at each step on the path to financial independence.
- Attend a Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) webinar: Our free monthly webinars cover a variety of topics that may help you discover the resources that you need to get started or continue on the path to work. Can’t attend a webinar? You can always check out recent webinars in WISE On Demand.
- Call the Ticket to Work Help Line: Representatives can answer your questions about the Ticket program and send a list of service providers. Call 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET.
- Search for service providers: You can look for service providers by location, services provided, and whether they offer services virtually or in person.