ticket to work program

What’s the Social Security Ticket to Work Program?

The Ticket to Work program offers employment services for anyone receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) launched Ticket to Work to help beneficiaries find and keep steady jobs to gain financial independence. Promoting work opportunities looking to hire disabled applicants is a great way to help reduce reliance on monthly disability benefits. This program is completely voluntary, and nobody getting benefits now has to participate. But if you want to try out Ticket to Work program services yourself, they’re completely free.

What Are Some Ticket to Work Program Benefits?

Paying bills with just your monthly disability check is hard for many people. The Ticket to Work program offers various job-related services for current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients, such as:

  • Career counseling
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Special transitional and educational programs just for young people and veterans
  • Job training and placement through authorized providers in your area

In other words, you’ll get access to everything you need in order to find and keep a new job. And this program does more than just help you land a job. You’ll also (potentially) earn more than you would in monthly disability benefits while becoming self-sufficient.

How Can I Tell if I’m Eligible for the Ticket to Work Program?

The Ticket to Work Program covers almost everyone getting SSI or SSDI. Currently, this program is open to all Social Security disability beneficiaries aged 18 to 64. If you receive monthly SSI and are at least 65 years old, then Ticket to Work likely cannot help you.

How Does the Ticket to Work Program Help Me?

Every person who’s eligible for this program is called a “Ticket Holder.” The Ticket to Work program partners with different private and public organizations, service providers and state agencies, which are called:

  • Employment Networks (ENs). Private and public organizations (including your state’s workforce system) offer free services to help you get hired. Agencies or individuals can serve as Ticket to Work program ENs. The SSA pays these providers to train and support you until you get hired.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies. These agencies train individuals to start a new career, re-enter the workforce or find work for the very first time. They also serve blind and visually impaired disability beneficiaries in certain states.

First, call the Ticket to Work help line at 866-968-7842 in order to confirm your eligibility. Then, write down the service providers that interest you most on the Finding an EN and Assigning Your Ticket Worksheet.

Will I Lose My Benefits Once I Start Working?

Worried you’ll lose all your disability benefits (including Medicare/Medicaid coverage) once you start working again? You won’t! Ticket to Work allows you to receive monthly disability checks until your job earnings go over the SSA’s maximum limit. During your Trial Work Period, the agency’s income limit for people in the Ticket to Work program is currently $910/month. Work incentives also mean that you’ll have medical coverage even after you’re earning too much to qualify for monthly benefits.

If you currently have Medicare coverage and SSDI benefits, you’re still eligible for at least 93 more months. And that’s after the last month of your Trial Work Period ends! If you’re currently getting Medicaid coverage as well as SSI payments, find your state’s Social Security office to contact here.

Some people may worry that going back to work now means they can’t get disability benefits anytime in the future. The SSA says that isn’t true, but you will need to submit a brand-new application if and when that happens. The SSA will determine whether you qualify for benefits at that time and give you temporary benefits for six months. So if you stop getting disability benefits, you have five years to ask the SSA to re-start your monthly payments. This is called Expedited Reinstatement.

The SSA’s Ticket to Work Program includes many exceptions and confusing rule requirements. Luckily, you can ask a disability advocate or lawyer for free advice that applies to your situation. Applying for disability through an attorney makes you 3x more likely to win benefits on your first try. In addition, those who apply with legal assistance through our website typically get $12,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free Social Security disability benefits evaluation now.

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Mandy Voisin

Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.