The Ticket to Work Program is an initiative that helps people with disabilities in career development. Created by the U.S. Social Security Administration, it’s open to those aged 18 to 64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.
How It Works
Qualified individuals get to assign their “tickets” to an authorized service provider, like Employment Networks (EN). These are public and private organizations that guide beneficiaries in figuring out and landing professions that’ll maximize their skills and proficiencies. In some cases, ENs may even help them in enrolling for certificate courses, buying prescription glasses, or acquiring prosthetic limbs and other medical or assistive equipment.
Career counseling and job placement assistance are also offered by vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, which typically handle people with more specific needs. In addition to those services, both En and VR help beneficiaries understand how joining the workforce may affect their benefits.
Other service providers that individuals may use their ticket on are Work Force Employment Network (WF), Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA), and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABBS). Enlistment to any of these four amenities is voluntary and free of charge.
Despite these advantages, a few people are still a bit skeptical of the program because of the misconceptions that surround Ticket to Work, particularly its effects on one’s benefits. Since these will no longer be the individual’s sole or main source of financial support, they’ll be cut off along with other benefits, like discounts and privileges. But, this isn’t entirely true. The changes will be based on whether the person is under SSDI or SSI.
How It Affects Existing SSDI Beneficiaries
Those who are under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are given a nine-month Trial Work Period, which allows them to see how they’ll do on the job. They’ll still receive their full benefits during the Trial Work Period, regardless of their earnings. After one’s Trial Work Period has been completed, in order to retain monthly cash benefits, an individual cannot earn over Substantial Gainful Activity, or SGA. This is an amount that’s used as a basis of one’s capacity to do work. If the individual’s pay goes beyond the provided threshold after the prescribed TWP, they may no longer be eligible for a cash benefit. While this doesn’t affect their eligibility for Medicare, their SSDI payouts might be cut off.
But, if the Social Security Administration still considers the individual disabled, their payouts will continue to be released. When they do reach SGA in any month, they won’t be given any payment but will still qualify for other benefits. Additionally, there are protections in place so if their earnings drop below the SGA level again, they can automatically get their cash benefit payments back.
How It Affects SSI Recipients
Meanwhile, Supplementary Security Income (SSI) recipients who become employees will notice a decrease in their monthly benefits. This isn’t unwarranted, given that the program is meant for individuals who’ve never been employed or haven’t earned enough work credits. Since the person already has a job, they’ll no longer be that dependent on SSI. The amount that will be reduced depends on how much they make.
SSI benefits are reduced by how much one earns. It’s a two-for-one calculation; for every $2 someone earns in wages; their SSI is reduced by $1. The more they earn, the more will be deducted, while the opposite is true as well. The lower someone’s earnings, the more they’ll receive for an SSI payment. Eventually, one could earn enough to no longer receive an SSI check at all. If this happens, they have 5 years from the first time this happens to reapply for their benefits if they have to stop working.
Another factor that makes SSI recipients different from Ticket to Work with SSDI is that they don’t have a trial period. This means that their SSI cash payments are affected immediately upon returning to work.
Yes, one can still earn a significant amount when they get into the Ticket to Work program, as they’ll receive a salary on top of their regular payouts and benefits. While it’s true that their allowance will gradually decrease over time, the goal is to reach financial independence without the supplementary support.
Contact DisABLEd Workers today at 1-877-291-9806 for more information on the Social Security Ticket to Work program. Their experts will help you out in navigating the initiative, making it easier for you to understand its various rules and your rights.