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The Ticket to Work program for those on SSI or SSDI benefits is an innovative initiative designed to encourage people receiving disability benefits to explore employment opportunities and career options. Many recipients of disability benefits want an opportunity to return to the workforce, where higher income potential and better benefits are possible. However, many fear losing their benefits if they return to work, which creates an uncertain situation for those who aren’t sure they’ll be able to work with their disability but would like to try.

The Ticket to Work program provides disability recipients with the support to investigate employment opportunities, receive additional vocational training and placement through employment networks, and attempt work for a period without risking the loss of benefits. While not every SSI and SSDI beneficiary qualifies for the Ticket to Work program, many can take advantage of the low-risk opportunity to expand income and create a better future. Keep reading to learn more about the Ticket to Work requirements that participants must fulfill to enroll and remain in the program.

Who Qualifies?

While not everyone who receives disability benefits qualifies for the Ticket to Work program, most recipients do. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 64 and must receive SSDI or SSI benefits because of a disability that prevents employment. The program is open to anyone who wants to reenter the workforce and would also like additional support such as vocational training, job placement services, career counseling, and vocational rehabilitation. The program is free to anyone who meets the criteria above.

Career counseling

Who Doesn’t Qualify?

While most SSI and SSDI recipients qualify for the Ticket to Work program, there are a few criteria that prevent participation in the initiative. The program isn’t available to anyone who is on temporary disability, is expected to improve medically, and hasn’t had a continuing disability review. Those who receive only state supplemental SSI but who don’t receive federal funds are also ineligible. Anyone who receives Section 301 payments while participating in a state department of rehabilitation program or who’s continuing to receive benefits while appealing a medical cessation order isn’t allowed to participate. You also can’t participate in the Ticket to Work program if you receive temporary benefits under the expedited reinstatement program, receive SSI after turning 18 under the childhood disability standards, or receive advanced payments for presumptive blindness or disability.

Continuing Timely Progress

One of the benefits of the Ticket to Work program is that you can be protected from medical review while you are pursuing employment and trying to obtain self-sufficiency. In order to be protected from those continuing disability reviews, you have to be actively making what SSA calls “Timely Progress.” Once you’re declared eligible and admitted into the program, there are some requirements that must be met to maintain your active status in the Ticket to Work program. You must commit to work at specific income levels and fulfill designated training and educational requirements. You must make timely progress towards the goals that you’ve set along with your employment network or vocational rehab provider. That can include receiving the training and education needed to experience success and reestablish yourself in a long-term career, getting a job and keeping it, reducing your dependence on disability benefits, and eventually being independent enough to come off disability payments altogether.

If you receive SSI or SSDI benefits but have considered exploring employment opportunities that would allow you to rejoin the workforce and secure a more independent financial future, the Ticket to Work program can provide you with the tools to do just that. To learn more about the SSI and SSDI Ticket to Work program and its requirements, contact DisABLEd Workers at (877) 291-9806.