Ticket to Work

The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Job program is a voluntary work incentive program available to individuals receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 established Ticket to Work. This Act was enacted to remove hurdles that prevent Social Security Disability beneficiaries from returning to work, such as fear of losing health insurance or being unable to continue benefits if a job does not work out.

Among other perks, the program provides free job training and employment referrals to Social Security Disability claimants. Training, referrals, and other advantages are provided by either a network of employers or a vocational rehabilitation agency. To participate in the program, employment networks and vocational rehabilitation agencies (referred to collectively as “providers” below) must be approved by the Social Security Administration.

If a person chooses to enter the program, he or she selects a provider and hands over his or her “ticket” to the provider. If the provider accepts the ticket, the provider next collaborates with the Social Security Disability recipient to develop a tailored plan for employment that details the sort of activity for which the individual will train and also specifies the services provided by the provider.

Social Security Disability payments are typically terminated after the trial period (during which the individual receives full Social Security Disability benefits) and the individual obtains a job with a substantial earnings potential. According to the SSA, if the individual quits his or her work, all benefits, including Medicare and Medicaid, will be reinstated promptly. No new application is required if job loss happens within five months of the termination of disability benefits. Temporary benefits are frequently granted for up to six months during the evaluation of the individual’s case. Additionally, as an individual’s earnings grow, SSI benefits are lowered and eventually abolished. No medical examinations are necessary if the individual provides timely progress reports on his or her return to work plan.

Medicare benefits remain for a number of years after the individual goes to work, and some states either continue Medicare coverage or allow the individual to acquire state-sponsored Medicare coverage.