Ticket-to-Work: How To Earn Extra Income and Keep Your Social Security Benefits
Category: Government Benefits and Programs
Program Goals and Objectives
Disability benefits are designed to provide a basic income as a preventative measure for escaping abject poverty when a person becomes severely injured, psychologically impaired, or ill due to a serious medical condition. But, it is deficient in providing recipients with a lifestyle of independence and self-sufficiency.
The goals of the Ticket-to-Work program are to:
The objectives of Ticket-to-Work and PASS are to help disabled individuals find employment that reduces or eliminates SSI or SSDI benefits.
The Ticket-to-Work program does not require a special application process. Disabled beneficiaries who receive cash benefits from Social Security are entitled to participate in the program and may enroll with an approved service provider of their choice.
Beneficiaries may enroll with an Employment Network (EN) or State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. The EN or State VR will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help the beneficiary find or maintain employment.
Free job support services include:
Ongoing support services also involves the initiative to remove barriers from achieving work goals. This can include purchasing clothing, equipment, or a vehicle when necessary for employment; or, making repairs to an existing vehicle, help with driver license restoration and purchasing car insurance.
Please inquire with your chosen service provider for details on criteria and eligibility requirements for these services.
Social Security will not send a paper ticket in the mail. Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Supplemental Income (SSI) benefits, age 18 to 64, are eligible to participate. Eligibility is verified through service providers and you can verify your eligibility status by calling the Ticket-to-Work Helpline.
PH: (866) 968-7842
TTY: (866) 833-2967
How to Apply for Ticket-to-Work
The worksheet will provide a list of questions you may want to ask and a space to write your answers which may help with the decision to assign your ticket.
Beneficiaries may choose between an Employment Network (EN) or State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency for ticket assignment based on your needs and the services provided.
Beneficiaries may also receive services from a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency and then receive ongoing services from an Employment Network (EN).
Work Incentives not only encourage beneficiaries to reduce or eliminate their reliance on social security it also helps in transitioning from benefit rolls to the workforce.
Beneficiaries who opt to participate in the Ticket-to-Work program are afforded the opportunity to safely explore work options and find the job that is right for them without immediately losing their benefits.
If employment earnings surpass allowable benefit amounts, your disability case will remain open up to one (1) year should your disability impair your ability to continue to work and there is a need to return or restore social security benefits.
You do not need to reapply or start a disability case over from the beginning.
Social Security will not terminate your case for up to one (1) year after the start of employment. Cases where employment earnings exceed benefit amounts are held open in a "non-pay" status in case the beneficiary cannot sustain employment due to their health. After the one (1) year non-pay status period, beneficiaries must reapply.
Work Incentives are designed to meet individual needs and circumstances. For a complete guide to Social Security Work Incentives consult the SSA Red Book.
Beneficiaries can use a combination of Work Incentives to maximize their income until they can secure stable employment and adequate income to support themselves.
Examples of Work Incentives:
These are a few examples of work incentives for recipients of Social Security disability benefits and the program is even more generous for those who are blind.
Click the link for more information on Work Incentives for Blind People:
Beneficiaries may register for a Work Incentive Seminar Event (WISE), a monthly online webinar provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The WISE webinar helps SSDI and SSI beneficiaries learn more about Ticket-to-Work and Work Incentives.
WISE Webinar Registration:
PH: (866) 968-7842
TTY: (866) 833-2967
Use the link to register online for a webinar: https://choosework.ssa.gov/webinar/
Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)
Social Security recipients are periodically subject to Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) every three (3), five (5), or seven (7) years to determine if a recipient still meets SSA guidelines for disability. However, when a beneficiary chooses to participate in the Ticket-to-Work program they are protected from the medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR).
The income and asset test will be an ongoing process through wage reporting or the Work Disability Review (WDR) process. In either process, work earnings are monitored which will be incrementally deducted until cash benefits are zeroed out.
For more information about medical or work disability reviews, contact the Social Security Administration at: (800) 772-1213.
Beneficiaries should also be aware that when enrolled in the Ticket-to-Work program they are expected to take certain steps toward preparing for a job, finding work, or maintaining current employment within a specified time frame.
Time frames are determined by Social Security to maintain wages within a certain level and complete job training or educational program.
The steps taken to meet employment goals are outlined in the work plan developed between the beneficiary and chosen Employment Network (EN).
Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies
An Employment Network (EN) is a private organization or public agency (including a State VR agency) which entered into an agreement to provide employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other types of support to beneficiaries with disabilities under the Ticket-to-Work program.
Beneficiaries can contact any EN to see if the services and support offered are right for them. There are different types of service providers and each type of service provider provides different services. It is important to understand the services each provider offers before searching so you can select the best provider to suit your needs.
Types of Service Providers:
Types of Services:
State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies assists individuals who desire to return to work or obtain new employment but require more significant services for work to be possible.
State VRs help beneficiaries get ready for work then refer them to an Employment Network (EN) to help them keep the job and make more money.
Likewise, beneficiaries receiving services from State VRs are assumed to be using a Ticket and, therefore, exempt from Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).
The beneficiary and EN must agree and develop a work plan that describes the beneficiary’s employment goal. The plan serves as a roadmap that helps the beneficiary understand their responsibilities and outlines the services and support the EN will provide to help the beneficiary reach their goal.
Use the Planning Your Employment Goals with the Ticket-to Work Program tool to help you define your employment goals and needs from the program.
The Your Path to Work tool helps you identify your phase in making the decision to return to work, look for a job, or maintain current employment.
Beneficiaries may talk to as many ENs as they wish before choosing to assign their Ticket. If a beneficiary assigns his or her Ticket to an EN and later has a change of mind about working with that EN, the beneficiary can un-assign the ticket and take it to another EN.
Beneficiaries who participate in the Ticket-to-Work program are required to report earned income monthly once new employment has begun. Social Security allows no more than six (6) days after the end of each month for wage reporting. Recipients may submit pay stubs by certified mail or in-person at a local Social Security office.
Wages may also be reported by a representative payee, spouse, parent, or sponsor of the SSDI/SSI recipient via telephone, mobile app, or the mySocialSecurity website.
PH: (800) 772-1213
TTY: (800) 325-0778
Use the Social Security Office Locator tool to find an office near you:
Use the Income Reporting Chart for Social Security Benefits on wage reporting requirements.
A link is provided below for more information on wage reporting.
How to Calculate Benefit Deductions
Beneficiaries who decide to participate in the Ticket-to-Work program will either reduce or eliminate their reliance on disability benefits.
While the first $85 of earnings are not counted, beneficiaries whose income rises above benefit levels will "zero out" their disability payment and lose eligibility for Medicaid health insurance.
The formula to estimate your deductions where N = net earnings and D = deductions is:
That is, the first $85 of earnings are deducted from the Net Income (N). The balance of the Net Income (N) is then divided by 2 and the balance or difference becomes the Deducted Amount (D) from the Social Security payment.
Example of a Benefit Deduction:
Beneficiaries are required to report earnings after the first thirty (30) days of employment. Benefits are affected after the second thirty (30) days.
Example of Wage Reporting:
That means, the beneficiary can retain their Social Security payments for the first sixty (60) days of employment without penalty as long as the income is reported.
Again, if earnings exceed benefit amounts and the Social Security payment is "zeroed out" the case remains open for one (1) year in a "non-pay status."
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
PASS is yet another provision to help disabled persons who receive or qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits return to work.
PASS allows disabled individuals set aside monies or assets that would otherwise be counted as income toward benefit amounts to pay for items or services needed to achieve a work goal.
A PASS can include supplies to:
PASS can help the participant save money to pay these costs, make purchases, installment payments, or downpayments on a vehicle, computer, or wheelchair to achieve a work goal.
Beneficiaries interested in participating with the PASS program can contact an Employment Network, State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, or local Social Security office to apply.
Applicants must complete the SSA-545-BK form to participate.
Beneficiaries with a work goal of self-employment must also submit a business plan.
PASS is also an option for claimants who otherwise medically qualify for SSI but whose income and assets exceed the maximum limitations ($2,000 for individuals, $3,000 for couples). This program will help those applicants financially qualify for SSI by setting-aside monies and property to reduce those assets.
A link is provided below for more information.
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State Disability Assistance (SDA) Program Structure, Benefits, and Eligibility
Case Management Services
Social Security Ticket to Work Overview
Find A Ticket-to-Work Service Provider
Finding an Employment Network (EN) and Assigning Your Ticket Worksheet
Protection from Medical Continuing Disability Reviews (Social Security Administration)
Social Security Administration Work Site
Comprehensive Guide to Service Providers and Services
Social Security Red Book
How to Report Wages
PASS – Social Security Overview
Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support
Spotlight on Plan to Achieve Self-Support – 2018 Edition
The Fully Accessible Guide To Starting A Business With A Disability
Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)
SSA Timely Progress Guideline (MRS Ticket-to-Work Program)
4/19/2019 11:35:07 pm
I like that you mention how there are employment programs available for people who receive benefits through disability or supplemental security income. In order to learn about them, it would probably be a good idea to talk to a professional that specializes in supplemental security income services or any other type of program you're part of. Consulting professionals could help you better understand what's available and give you the chance to discuss your situation to determine the best course of action.
12/2/2020 01:54:11 pm
I love your idea to get more independent comfort for people with social security. My brother is struggling to work now because of some illnesses that have developed. He needs to make sure that he is working with a good lawyer that will help him get all the benefits that he is entitled to right now.
12/6/2020 10:10:28 pm
Thank you. I'm glad you found the information helpful. Let me know if he needs any additional help.
4/8/2021 04:48:08 pm
It's good to learn that disability benefits are used to provide a basic income for a person who has a serious condition. My brother is struggling with his paralysis and he was wondering what kind of insurance he could get to help him live with paralysis. I'll be sure to tell him to start looking into disability insurance.
4/29/2021 07:28:22 pm
Absolutely. The State of Michigan also provides basic income for the disabled as an interim benefit pending social security disability claims. The following link will provide more information: https://www.canmichigan.com/blog/michigan-state-disability-assistance-sda-program-structure-benefits-and-eligibility
4/14/2021 01:17:34 pm
It sounds like calculating deductions could be pretty complicated with all that math involved. I could see how that could be stressful when trying to get disability benefits. I should recommend that my friend looks into getting someone to help him with that.
4/29/2021 07:29:57 pm
It can be confusing but the representatives at the Social Security Administration office are very helpful in calculating benefits.
I appreciate when you explained that the disability benefits would help a person to get at least a basic income even after the injuries they have caused by accidents and illnesses they got from their job. It must be a huge help for a person in this kind of situation to have these benefits as soon as they can to be treated and get back to their daily activities sooner. Having a social security attorney would probably be helpful in ensuring that they have an advantage and have more chances of actually being approved.
1/30/2023 11:05:59 pm
Yes. It is helpful in getting a basic income after a person has been injured. Getting an attorney is also helpful in getting approved.
It helped when you referred to that orchestrating documentation and letters would profit from outside input by NDIS the chiefs. I have a cousin needing to find NDIS plan the board that could be valuable to her and my nephew with their life organizing the chiefs for their life goals. She asked concerning whether I realized what may be the best decision to consider. I esteem this edifying article, I'll tell her it will be enormously enhanced the remote possibility that she guides an accepted assistance plan the leaders association as they can answer all of her solicitations.
1/30/2023 11:06:26 pm
Thank you for your comment. Hope this helps.
3/14/2023 04:04:19 pm
It stood out to me when you explained that social security eligibility is verified through service providers. I would imagine that there are some intricacies that need to be navigated when trying to obtain social security benefits. Working with a lawyer seems like a good way to navigate the intricacies.
4/6/2023 04:07:41 am
It's interesting to know that there are situations where your benefits will still be given for a year after you got a job. It seems that there are many considerations regarding the SSDI benefits, so it must be useful to have a social security disability lawyer to explain everything clearly to you before you go looking for a job. With their help, you might be able to find ways to keep the benefits while being employed for many years to come which can help your monthly expenses.
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Welcome to The Community Advocate Network. My name is Deborah Mitchell, I am a graduate in Social Work and Registered Social Work Technician. My human service background began in 2007 which includes medical case management and service navigation for the indigent population, outpatient mental health counseling with substance use and abuse disorders, supportive employment and job development for mental health consumers, and structured living domicile management.