Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides vital benefits for qualifying individuals who can no longer work due to a severely disabling injury or illness. However, after collecting SSDI for a time, some beneficiaries may feel well enough to return to work, but worry they’ll have difficulty reentering the workforce, lose the essential benefits they’ve come to count on, and have to go through the grueling Social Security disability application process all over again.
Does that sound familiar? If so, there’s good news. The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands that the idea of returning to work and losing SSDI benefits can be frightening. Its work incentives, like the Ticket to Work program, serve as a safety net, allowing you to explore returning to work while still receiving benefits. You can even take advantage of free, individualized employment and vocational rehabilitation services and other supports from an approved Employment Network.
Our Employment Network Offers Nationwide Ticket to Work Services
Disability Services of America is an SSA-authorized Employment Network that helps SSDI beneficiaries throughout the United States—including Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and other inhabited territories—prepare for, find, and maintain meaningful and fulfilling employment.
Our diverse team of employment professionals has partnered with the SSA to provide Ticket to Work services and support for over a decade. Since then, we’ve become America’s leading source of services for individuals with disabilities.
If you’re an SSDI recipient who’s considering going back to work, here’s what you should know, including how our personalized employment services can help make your transition back to the workforce as smooth and successful as possible.
Exploring the Benefits of Participating in the Ticket to Work Program
Ticket to Work is a voluntary, free employment program administered by the SSA and its approved partners, which means that Social Security disability beneficiaries are never required to participate and those who do won’t be asked to pay for the services they receive. The program assists people with disabilities in moving toward financial independence, facilitating a more successful return to the workforce by allowing you to:
- Test your ability to work or continue working
- Take advantage of personalized career development services
- Collect full cash SSDI payments during the first 12 months of work activity
- Receive benefits during an extended period of eligibility in months when earnings fall below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit
- Avoid continuing disability reviews while you participate in the Ticket to Work program and are actively working toward your employment goal with your Ticket provider
- Enjoy a 5-year period in which the SSA can restart your cash benefits without you having to reapply
- Continue to have Medicare or Medicaid coverage
Understanding Ticket to Work Eligibility
Ticket to Work helps SSDI beneficiaries progress toward a more financially independent future by connecting them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce. You may be eligible for the program if you:
- Are between the ages of 18 and 64
- Receive SSDI payments (or SSDI and SSI payments)
- Want to try transitioning back into the workforce
- Need support from authorized return-to-work experts
- Aren’t appealing a medical cessation
- Aren’t an adult receiving SSDI benefits under childhood disability standards
- Haven’t been granted expedited reinstatement of temporary benefits
- Aren’t currently receiving advance payments for presumptive blindness or disability
Our Ticket to Work Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation Services Are Particularly Beneficial for SSDI Recipients Who Haven’t Worked in Some Time
If you’re like many of our Ticket to Work clients, you may be interested in returning to work but unsure what kinds of jobs you could do, how to characterize the gap in your employment history, or how to find meaningful employment that can improve your quality of life. Not to worry, the SSA designed the Ticket to Work program to support SSDI beneficiaries just like you on the journey to financial self-sufficiency—and Disability Services of America is here to help.
We work with you to identify jobs matching your capabilities and interests and connect you with local resources to help you thrive in your chosen work environment. Our Employment Network offers wide-ranging free career development services, including:
- Career counseling. Receive guidance and support in exploring and planning your return-to-work career path.
- Developing realistic and personalized employment goals. Collaborate with our knowledgeable and experienced professionals to establish achievable and personalized goals for your employment journey.
- Benefits counseling with our Community Partner Work Incentive Coordinators (CPWIC). Gain assistance in understanding how employment may impact your benefits and navigate the complexities of the SSA’s work incentives.
- Completing your Individualized Work Plan (IWP). Create a customized plan that outlines the necessary steps and services needed to achieve your employment goals.
- Resumé development and practice interviews. Access support in crafting an effective resumé and improving your interview skills through mock job interview sessions.
- Labor market research. Obtain insights into current job trends, demands, and opportunities in specific industries or regions.
- Job placement and development. Take advantage of resources and support to secure suitable employment opportunities based on your skills and preferences.
- Advocacy for your EEOC and ADA rights. Learn about your rights under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how to navigate them to ensure fair treatment and workplace accommodations.
- Ongoing employment support. Receive continuous assistance and guidance to maintain employment success, address challenges, and maximize job satisfaction.
Getting Started on the Path to Employment and Making the Most of Your Ticket to Work
Are you ready to try making the transition back to the workforce? Disability Services of America is here to help you work your way to a better future. SSDI beneficiaries interested in participating in Ticket to Work can contact us (or another approved Employment Network), rather than the SSA, to verify their eligibility, enroll in the program, and receive the go-ahead to get started, your “Ticket” to work. The SSA no longer sends paper Tickets to participants through the mail.
When you assign your Ticket to us, we’ll work with you to develop an employment goal, determine what type of education or training you might need to reach it and identify necessary supports and accommodations to enable you to succeed in the workforce.
We’ll never push you into accepting just any available job opening; we’re here to help you find a meaningful career where you can thrive.
We want to know what you’re passionate about, the type of work you like to do, whether you have an idea of what kind of job you want now or have any long-term career goals, where you see yourself five years from now, and more, so that we can match you with a position in the industry and environment you prefer.
Once we have a clear picture of your capabilities and goals, we’ll identify beneficial services and support we can provide. This may include helping you brush up on both hard and soft work skills, write or update a resume that appeals to potential employers, find and apply for a job that’s right for you, and prepare to make a good impression at your job interviews.
After you find a job, we’ll help you manage your employment and take control of your finances by offering advice and guidance on opening a bank account and developing a budget.
We’ll also work with you to ensure you’re progressing toward your employment goals as outlined in the IWP, keeping records of earnings, transcripts or certificates of completion for trainings or classes, and other evidence, and sending documentation of your progress to the SSA every 12 months or as required.
Don’t go it alone. Get free personalized career development services from a trusted employment network committed to your success.