For those who suffer from disabilities that prevent them from pursuing a viable livelihood, Social Security Disability benefits can preserve the quality of life and allow many to sustain their level of income. Not only do benefits provide recipients with needed financial resources such as disability payments and assistance with food, but the Social Security Administration also provides health care for those who otherwise would not have access to quality care. Despite the quality of those resources, many people who suffer from disabilities yearn for the upward financial mobility and personal fulfillment of a career but are fearful of pursuing work because they don’t want to jeopardize their benefits.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has created a group of programs designed to help recipients of disability benefits test their ability to work and create viable livelihoods. One of the most successful of those programs, the Social Security Ticket to Work program, allows those with disabilities to receive vocational training, take advantage of employment networks, and work for a trial period without putting benefits such as Medicare at risk. Read on to learn how you can let Ticket to Work help you regain your ability to work without jeopardizing Medicare coverage.

Understanding the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program is designed to allow disability recipients not only a chance to work without being penalized through loss of benefits, but it also provides the training and job placement structure necessary to provide them with assistance in re-entering the job market. The Ticket to Work program is not mandatory, but instead offers an additional level of assistance to those who want to pursue greater financial mobility through broadened employment prospects. Participants register with Employment Networks, or ENs, to identify employment opportunities, receive the proper vocational training, and find placement in desirable positions. Participants continue to receive their full SSDI benefits during the training and placement period, and after beginning work, they have a nine-month Trial Work Period during which their benefits continue regardless of earnings. Those receiving SSI benefits are given an Earned Income Exclusion which means SSA won’t count the first $65 earned in a month and then after that, SSA only counts half of your earnings when determining eligibility for SSI benefits.

Ticket to Work and Medicare Eligibility

Most disability recipients rely on Medicare for basic healthcare, and fortunately, they can continue to receive those Medicare benefits while participating in the Ticket to Work program. Though there’s a common perception that working will jeopardize benefits like Medicare, that’s simply not the case when it comes to participation in Ticket to Work. As long as you continue to receive disability payments, you will continue to be eligible for Medicare. During the nine-month Trial Work Period, there is no change in the status of any benefits, including Medicare. Participants in the Ticket to Work program can retain access to both premium-free Part A and Part B services through Medicare, though you or a third-party will pay for Part B.

Medicare Eligibility Timeframe after Return to Work

Your Medicare benefits will continue unabated during your nine-month Trial Work Period through the Ticket to Work program. After the nine-month Trial Work Period, you will receive at least seven and a half years of continuing Medicare coverage so long as your disabling condition persists and still meets the criteria for consideration as a disability. There are also some work incentives available that allow continued access to Medicare even after you have begun to earn enough to stop receiving disability payments.

Worker with Artificial Leg

What If I Get Insurance?

Many who return to work full-time will receive access to private insurance through their employer. That doesn’t mean that those recipients will cease to receive access to Medicare benefits. In fact, Medicare will be considered a secondary payer behind your employer-provided insurance. It’s important to notify your Medicare contractor of the change in status if you begin to receive insurance from your employer, as doing so will prevent payment errors.

The Ticket to Work program has provided thousands with a chance to increase their income ceiling and build a better financial life. The program protects the benefits for those who need them to provide a way for recipients of disability to test the viability of a new career or employment opportunity. To learn more about how the Ticket to Work program impacts benefits such as Medicare, contact DisABLEd Workers at (877) 291-9806.

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