Q & A
What is the “Ticket to Work” program?
Complete Question: With all the disability discussion in the news, I was wondering if people on disability have an option to try to work? I’ve heard about “Ticket to Work”, but don’t really know what it is.
Answer: The Social Security Administration (SSA) does encourage people who are on disability to return to work, or at least try. Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that allows someone on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) to obtain employment and vocational rehabilitation services. In addition, the disabled beneficiary will be connected to an employment network (EN) that will help them find an appropriate job.
The SSA also does not want to discourage people from attempting to find a job because they are receiving disability benefits. If someone is actively participating in the Ticket to Work program, the SSA will not conduct the normal periodic medical review. Furthermore, the Work Incentives program assists the beneficiary in transitioning to working life by providing Medicaid and assistance with additional work expenses the person may have due to the disability.
The SSA also had a trial work period so that someone on disability can try to go back to work without worrying about losing their disability benefits. The trial work period consists of any 9 months in a 60-month period and the person will still receive their benefits as long as they still have the disability. After that, if the person continues to work, but it is not enough for it to be considered “substantial gainful activity” (such as working only a few hours a week), they can still receive their benefits. If the person is considered to have “substantial gainful activity” after the trial work period, benefits will stop; however, if the disability is still an issue and the person can no longer work, they can have an expedited reinstatement of their benefits within 5 years of benefits ceasing.
All of these programs are designed so that a person on disability will feel like they can try to go back to work and not be concerned if they find out it is not a successful attempt because of the disability. On the other hand, if it is successful, they will be able to get off of disability and be self-sufficient.