How the Disabled Can Get Back to Work
What is the SSA’s Ticket to Work Program?
For disabled individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, there may be a way to get back to work without losing their benefits. The Social Security Administration’s “Ticket to Work” program offers benefit recipients job training, vocational rehabilitation, job referrals and other services.
The program offers a number of options to those between the ages of 18 and 65. First, if you return to work, but are unable to continue, there is an “Expedited Reinstatement” process that allows you to immediately receive monthly benefits again and to continue receiving health care benefits. For those who are participating in the Ticket to Work program, it is not necessary to undergo a continuing disability review.
The SSA provides free job-related resources through two types of third party providers that are under contract with the administration: Employment Networks (ENs) and Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (VRs). ENs offer services such as career counseling and job placement assistance, and continue to work with participants in the program who have returned to work. For those who cannot return to the work they performed before becoming disabled, VRs retrain them for new careers. In sum, by working with an EN and a VR, you develop a plan for getting back to work and establishing career goals.
What happens to my benefits if I participate in the Ticket to Work Program?
In addition to being able to continue receiving benefits if you are unable to continue working, the program features a nine-month trial period. This enables program participants to perform work that pays a certain amount each month, for a total of nine months in a five-year period, and receive a full benefit amount.
When the trial period is over, benefits are not available for months in which participants earned “substantial wages.” After completing the trial work period, those who are still disabled and whose earning fell below the “substantial” threshold, can continue to receive benefits for an additional 36 months.
In the end, the Ticket to Work program offers opportunities to disabled individuals that may allow them to earn a living again. As with any other SSA program, the process can be complicated and you are well advised to work with an experienced social security disability attorney in order to protect your benefits