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Life-changing medical conditions affect many individuals each year. A serious injury or debilitating illness not only has an impact on one’s quality of life, but their finances as well. The indefinite loss of income from long-term or permanent disability compromises their financial independence.

The Social Security Administration has a program for people living with physical, mental or emotional disabilities that prevent them from earning a living. The Ticket to Work Program allows people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to receive job training, career counseling, and placement assistance that puts them back on the path to the workplace. Participants in this voluntary program may continue to receive their disability benefits from the government.

The Social Security Administration has specific guidelines on disability that could affect your eligibility in the SSA Ticket to Work Program. If you live with a disability, you’ll want to be familiar with the administration’s requirements.

Defining Disability

The Social Security Administration has rules regarding the definition of disability when it comes to receiving SSDI benefits. A person who applied for SSDI is fully disabled by a physical or mental impairment or the effects of an illness. The disability lasts, or is expected to last, at least one year.

You must also be unable to participate in what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity to meet its definition of disability. Substantial gainful activity (SGA) describes a level of work activity that is physical or mental, or both, and is done for pay or profit either full time or part time. SGA is one of the factors used to determine if you are eligible for disability benefits.

Impact of Earnings

The SSA also takes into account what you’ve earned over the course of a career. You must have earned enough at a job or from self-employment income to qualify for disability benefits. The amount changes from year to year and eligibility is determined by the number or credits you’ve earned and your age when you become disabled. In 2019, the administration requires an individual make $1,360 in income to earn one credit. You must earn 40 credits, 20 of them in the past 10 years that end with the year you were diagnosed as disabled, to become eligible for SSDI disability benefits.

Ability to Work

The SSA rules require that the disability you are living with impedes your ability to perform the work you had done in the past. A medical evaluation determines the severity of the impairment and its effect on your substantial gainful activity and daily lifestyle. There are certain impairments, such as certain types of cancer, various adult brain disorders and many other rare disorders, oftentimes affecting children.

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Your Ticket

You may come to the realization that earning your own income again is preferable to receiving a monthly SSDI disability check. The Social Security Administration encourages disability benefit recipients to pursue work opportunities through the SSA Ticket to Work program. Participants ages 18 through 64 who receive SSDI or SSI benefits work with authorized Employment Networks and state vocational rehabilitation agencies to help you prepare for a return to the workforce while still receiving their benefits. Ticket to Work providers act as partners with you to develop a plan to help you reach your work goals and progress toward a financially independent future.

If you want to know more about the SSA Ticket to Work program, its requirements, and how to apply, call DisABLEd Workers at 877-291-9806. DisABLEd Workers is an approved service provider of the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program. Our program specialists can answer any questions you may have.