Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can provide much-needed financial support for someone who otherwise might not be able to earn a paycheck.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does, however, recognize that after receiving either SSDI or SSI benefits for a period of time, some recipients may wish to attempt to re-enter the workforce if they feel able to do so. But many fear that going back to work and earning an income puts them at risk of losing their disability benefits.
In light of this, the SSA conducts the Ticket to Work Program, a cost-free way for disabled individuals to retain their benefits while transitioning back into the working world. If you are currently receiving benefits but feel like you are ready to find employment again, the Ticket to Work Program might be the right option for you.
How the Ticket to Work Program Works
Most importantly, benefits recipients should understand that the Ticket to Work Program is entirely voluntary; no disabled person is required to take part. Those who wish to participate in the program, however, must be between 18 and 64, and must currently be receiving either SSDI or SSI.
Individuals interested in the program may either sign up with an Employment Network (EN) which contracts with the SSA, or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency through their state of residence.
If an EN or a State VR accepts you as a participant in the Ticket to Work Program, the organization will begin by working with you directly to discover a plan that fits your needs. They will do this by helping you identify your goals of employment, as well as deciding on a type of employment that fits your individual needs and abilities. This plan may also include a desired salary.
Within the plan will also include information on how your chosen EN or State VR will work to help you in the process. This help may include job placement, career counseling, and ongoing support services as you continue your job search or while you are at your new place of employment. Your selected EN or State VR may provide additional resources, as each works individually.
But what happens to my disability benefits?
The purpose of the Ticket to Work Program is to offer benefits recipients with services to help enter the workforce, and to help lead these individuals to live more financially independent lives, without putting undue stress on them.
As such, those who choose to participate in the Ticket to Work Program will not automatically lose their benefits, and will continue to receive payments for nine months as they transition into their new employment.
If the SSA determines that a recipient’s new employment demonstrates his or her ability to engage in substantial gainful employment, or that his or her disability has improved, benefits will eventually cease; the recipient will still receive benefits for an additional three months, however, a term the SSA calls the “grace period.”
The individual may request reinstatement of benefits if unable to work; in this case, he or she won’t have to fill out another application to apply for disability all over again.
Do you need legal assistance with the Ticket to Work Program? Call Rob Levine today!
If you require legal assistance regarding your benefits in the Ticket to Work Program or if you need help securing disability benefits in the first place, contact the Heavy Hitter ®, Rob Levine, today. You can reach us by calling 866-LAW-SSDI to set up a free consultation about your case.