What’s the Social Security Ticket to Work Program?

Disability Benefits

Important: We updated this article in February 2023 to make sure all info below is both current and correct. The Ticket to Work program offers employment services for anyone who gets Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) launched Ticket to Work to help those people 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 benefits. This program is completely voluntary. That means nobody getting benefits now has to sign up. 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 benefits check is hard for many people. The Ticket to Work program offers job-related services for people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Here are just a few services you can access via the Ticket to Work program:

  • 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 (possibly) earn more than you would in monthly benefits while learning new skills.

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 people who get SSI or SSDI 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 can sign up 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 they call:

  • 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 ENs to train and support you until you get hired.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies. These agencies train individuals to start a new career, return to the job market, or find work for the very first time. They also serve blind and visually impaired people in certain states.

First, call the Ticket to Work help line at 866-968-7842 in order to confirm you can take part. 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 benefits (including Medicare/Medicaid coverage) once you start working again? You won’t! Ticket to Work allows you to receive monthly benefits until your job income goes over the SSA’s maximum limit. During your Trial Work Period, the 2023 income limit for people in the Ticket to Work program is $1,050 per 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 can keep those payments for at least 93 more months. And that’s after the last month of your Trial Work Period ends! If you have Medicaid coverage and 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 must submit a new application if and when that happens. The SSA will determine if you qualify for benefits at that time. What’s more, they’ll give you temporary benefits for six months. So if you stop getting benefits, you have five years to ask the SSA to restart your monthly payments. This is called Expedited Reinstatement.

The SSA’s Ticket to Work Program isn’t very easy to understand. Luckily, you can ask a Social Security attorney for free help. Applying through a disability lawyer makes you 3x more likely to win benefits right away. In addition, those who apply with expert help through our website typically get $13,000 in back pay as well as monthly benefits.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to sign up for a phone call from a local expert during regular weekday business hours:

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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.