Ticket to Work: Get Back Into the Workforce

20120106-OC-AMW-0747Do you suffer from a disability but still want to work? You are the type of person that prefers independence. If you already receive Social Security disability benefits, you qualify for the Ticket to Work program.

What is the Ticket to Work Program?

The Ticket to Work program is specifically geared towards disabled individuals on SS benefits who are looking for employment. The program provides free employment searches. They will assess what kind of job you are suited for, advise you how often to work, and help you prepare to work in a particular position.

There are several organizations that act as Ticket to Work service providers that will work closely with you to guide you to financial independence. Your local Employment Network (EN) connects you with potential jobs, and you can choose another EN at any time. They are there to help you outline your goals as an employee.

EN’s typically help with:

  • Benefits counseling
  • Job search and placement
  • Career planning
  • Continuous work support

It is a voluntary program so it is completely up to you to participate. Don’t forget that it’s free.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help disabled beneficiaries get back on their feet and back into the workforce.

 Why Should I Join the Program?

Because the program is geared towards adults on SS disability benefits, everything in its structure and mission are designed to help you return to work without immediately losing your benefits.

Starting to work again is a transitional period. You will continue to receive your healthcare benefits and if the position doesn’t work out, you can return to benefits (at a expedited reinstatement). You will also be exempt from a medical continuing disability review.

You will receive individualized attention to your work capabilities and will earn back the confidence as a workforce member.

How Do I Qualify?

All adults (ages 18-64) are automatically eligible for the Ticket to Work program if they are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Getting Started

Getting started is simple and begins with a phone call. You can reach the program help line at 1-866-968-7842. They will verify your eligibility and give you a list of EN options in your area. You do not need a paper ticket to get started with the program. You might also choose to work with a Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR). The state VR is geared for individuals with significantly more impactful disabilities.

VR agencies may include:

  • Specialized training
  • Career counseling
  • Job placement
  • Education and certification

 Your Financial Independence

When you begin the program, the goals you set with your EN or VR are made to ultimately earn enough money to remove you from dependence on SSDI or SSI benefits.

If you accept the program, you are required to make timely progress towards receiving the training and education for your work position, finding a job, and keeping a job.

Deciding when it is time to return to work is a personal decision and requires careful thought. If the program sounds appealing, you’re already one step there. If you would like a little more incentive, take the work readiness quiz on the official Ticket to Work website.

Sources: Choose To Work, Social Security Administration, and Ticket to Work Booklet

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Creative Commons