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A disability doesn’t have to take away your ability to earn a living. There are options if you’re receiving federal disability payments and want to return to the workforce. The Social Security Administration Ticket to Work program is tailored to individuals with disabilities ages 18 to 64 receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or who are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Ticket to Work program provides resources for job training, career counseling, and employment assistance to help people work their way off federal benefits and toward financial independence.

One of the key benefits that come with participation in the Social Security Ticket to Work program is that you can receive help to understand how you can remain on SSDI or SSI while you’re getting started in the program. There are other benefits as well. Here are four reasons to participate in Ticket to Work.

Employment Networks

One of the essential parts of the Ticket to Work program is your access to service providers that’ll work with you on resources and training opportunities to prepare you for a return to employment. The assistance that’s made available to you is a key reason to give Ticket to Work a try.

Once you participate in the program, you’ll be referred to your choice of Employment Networks (EN), public or private groups that’ll support you on your job search with potential leads, career planning, and placement assistance. You may also be referred to a state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency that arranges intensive training, rehabilitation, and education.

Supporting Your Goal

Another reason to take part in Ticket to Work is the personal support you’ll receive for your transition back to the workforce. You and your service provider will work together on an Individual Work Plan (IWP), which sets your employment goals and the services the EN will provide to help you meet those goals.

Your service provider will check with you periodically on how you’re progressing toward your goals and will provide supports and resources to help you, which include landing and keeping a job, supporting yourself financially, and reducing your dependency on SSDI or SSI benefits.

Transition Over Time

You’ll have time through Ticket to Work to transition your way back to work. While you are participating in the Ticket to Work program and are making progress towards your goals, you can be protected from Medical Reviews from Social Security. Progress in the program is gradual though, to allow you time to test out your abilities. In the first year, you simply need to work three months or obtain a GED to be considered making progress. In the second year, you only need to have six months of work and by the fifth year in Ticket to Work, you should earn enough of an income to no longer receive SSDI or SSI benefits for at least six months.

If you have concerns about how your wages would affect your benefits eligibility while you’re in the Ticket to Work program, your employment provider can make the services of free benefits counseling available to you. The counselor can give you in-depth guidance about your SSDI and SSI benefits and any other benefits you receive. They’ll also explain to you the wage reporting requirements to help you avoid being overpaid by Social Security.

A Voluntary Program

Another reason to participate in the Ticket to Work disability program is that it’s voluntary. It isn’t a requirement for you to continue receiving SSDI for illness or non-retirement disability or SSI payments. This minimizes the financial stress on your part.

Take the First Step

The first step for you to re-enter the workplace, rely less on federal SSDI or SSI benefits over time, and start on a path to financial self-sufficiency is to sign up for the Social Security Ticket to Work program. DisABLEd Workers is an approved Employment Network to help people with disabilities reach their employment goals. Call DisABLEd Workers today at 877-291-9806.