Social Security Ticket to Work Program

If you currently receive SSI Payments or SSDI Benefits and would like to start working or return to work, we can help. The Social Security Ticket to Work program helps you, free of charge, to get vocational rehabilitation, job training, job referrals, and other employment support services to help you find work and stay employed while receiving your disability benefits. In this post, we will explain everything you need to know to successfully sign up for the Ticket to Work program and keep your disability benefits while you work.

In addition, we will explain how long the program lasts and what you need to do to keep your benefits while you work under the program.

Also, we will explain what happens with medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) while you are under the program.

Finally, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about the Ticket to Work program.

"How much can you make on the Ticket to work program"

This post will cover:

  • What is the Ticket to Work Program?
  • Eligibility for Ticket to Work Program
  • How the Ticket to Work Program Works
  • Getting Started with Ticket to Work
  • Ticket to Work Success Story – Video
  • Social Security Ticket to Work FAQs

What is the Ticket to Work Program?

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket to Work program supports career development for Social Security disability beneficiaries age 18 through 64 who want to work.

It is a free and voluntary program intended to assist adult disability beneficiaries in becoming employed.

There is no penalty if you decide not to participate.

Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits and are age 18 through 64 probably already qualify for the program.

The program’s goal is to increase opportunities and choices for Social Security disability beneficiaries.

These services can include vocational rehabilitation, training, referrals, job coaching, counseling, and placement services.

Essentially, the Ticket to Work program pays for services to help you find paid work.

While you participate in the program, Social Security will suspend medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).

This is a significant benefit if your disability or condition may change.

That’s because, under normal circumstances, you lose all your Social Security disability benefits if your condition improves.

Eligibility for Ticket to Work Program

All adult beneficiaries aged 18 to 64 who receive SSI or SSDI cash benefits are eligible for the Ticket to Work program.

In addition, you can participate in the Ticket to Work program immediately if you meet these qualifications.

However, you can also wait until a later time when you feel ready to work. The Ticket does not have an expiration date.

The program is not available to those who fall under one of the following:

  • are expected to improve medically but have not yet had a continuing disability review (but people who have received benefits for three years without a review become eligible for the Ticket to Work program)
  • receive only state supplement SSI payments (who are not receiving any federal money)
  • receive Section 301 payments while participating in a state department of rehabilitation program
  • are getting continued benefits while appealing a medical cessation decision
  • attain age 18 and continue to receive SSI benefits under the childhood disability standards
  • receive temporary benefits under the expedited reinstatement rules, or
  • receive advance payments for presumptive disability or presumptive blindness (just until the SSA grants disability benefits for the disability or blindness).

How the Ticket to Work Program Works

By using the Ticket to Work program, you can access employment services provided by Ticket service providers called Employment Networks (ENs)

In addition, you can use the services of your Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency.

ENs can be employment agencies, employers, schools, or other types of organizations.

Social Security pays ENs when the people receiving Social Security disability benefits they work with achieve certain milestones and outcomes.

If you want to work with an EN, you can work with any EN that you choose so long as they agree to work with you.

Furthermore, you can change your EN at any time if you are not satisfied with the services they provide.

It is also possible to receive services first from your Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency and then switch to an EN to provide support once you start working.

Individual Work Plan

You and your EN will determine which services you need to reach your employment goals.

Next, your EN will use these decisions to create an Individual Work Plan (IWP) for you.

If you work with a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, this document will be called an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

The two types of plans are very similar and serve the same purpose.

Continuing Disability Review (CDR) is Suspended

As mentioned above, while you participate in the program, Social Security will suspend medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).

This is a significant benefit if your disability or condition may change.

That’s because, under normal circumstances, you lose all your Social Security disability benefits if your condition improves.

As long as you are following your Individual Work Plan and making timely progress, Social Security will not subject you to a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

How to Get Started with Ticket to Work

Here’s how to get started with Ticket to Work.

Step 1 – Call Ticket to Work

If you decide to participate in the Ticket to Work program, getting started is easy.

First, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) to verify your eligibility.

The customer service representatives will explain to you how the program works and answer any questions or address any concerns you might have.

In addition, they will also offer to mail you a list of service providers.

Also, you can use the Find Help Tool to get a customized list of providers that are available to help you.

Step 2 – Choose a Service Provider

The next step is deciding what service provider is right for you.

As mentioned above, you have a choice to work with either an Employment Network (EN) or your state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, depending on your needs.

Furthermore, you may also receive services from your VR agency and then receive ongoing services from an Employment Network.

It is important to also note that some ENs are also part of a state’s public workforce system.

These workforce ENs provide access to additional employment support services including training programs and special programs for youth in transition and veterans.

Step 3 – Making Timely Progress After You Assign Your Ticket

What happens next is a two-way process: You receive free assistance from your service provider to prepare for, find, and keep a job.

In return, you pledge to Social Security that you will take specific steps – determined by the plan you developed with your service provider – within specific timeframes set by Social Security to:

  • Work at a specified earnings level or,
  • Complete certain educational or training requirements.

When you participate in the Ticket Program, you are working with your EN or VR to reduce or eliminate your dependence on SSDI and/or SSI cash benefits.

Making “timely progress” helps you:

    • Receive the education and training you need to succeed at work and your long-term career
    • Become and stay employed
    • Reduce your dependence on SSDI or SSI payments
    • Earning your way off cash benefits, if possible

Furthermore, if you make “timely progress” by following your employment plan, Social Security will not conduct a review of your medical condition.

Ticket to Work Success Story – Video

The video below from the Social Security Administration’s Choose Work program does an excellent job showing the benefits and what success in the program can look like.

We encourage you to watch it for further insights into the Ticket to Work program and how you to can find success with the program.

Social Security Ticket to Work FAQs

Here are the most frequently asked Ticket to Work questions.

How much money can you make on the Ticket to Work program in 2021?

During the Trial Work Period (TWP), there are no limits on how much you can earn.

However, during the 36-month extended period of eligibility, you usually can make no more than $1,260 a month in 2020 or your benefits will stop.

The amount is $2,110 for people who are blind and receive SSDI.

What does Ticket to Work terminated mean?

Your ticket will terminate if and when you are no longer eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program.

If your ticket terminates, you may not assign or reassign it to an EN or State VR agency.

Furthermore, the Social Security Administration will not pay an EN (or a State VR agency) for milestones or outcomes achieved in or after the month in which your ticket terminates.

Do I have to participate in the Ticket Program?

No. The goal of the Ticket to Work Program is to help people receiving Social Security disability benefits obtain employment.

It is designed to help SSI and SSDI beneficiaries work toward greater independence and increased self-sufficiency.

By using the Ticket to Work program, you can access employment services provided by Ticket service providers called Employment Networks (ENs)

In addition, you can use the services of your Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency.

Social Security pays ENs when the people receiving Social Security disability benefits they work with achieve certain milestones and outcomes.

The Ticket Program is free and voluntary.

This means that you do not have to pay for services received under the program and there is no penalty for not participating.

I lost the paper Ticket sent to me by Social Security. What Should I Do?

First, you do not need to have the paper Ticket to start working either an Employment Network (EN) or your state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency.

The EN you select or the or state Vocational Rehabilitation agency can contact the Ticket Program Manager to verify your eligibility to participate in the program.

Can I Assign my Ticket after CDR Notice?

Yes, you can, however, this will not stop the CDR review.

If you assign your Ticket after you receive a CDR notice, Social Security will continue with your scheduled medical review.

How long Does the Ticket to Work Program Last?

Once you assign your ticket to an EN or your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, you begin a seven-year program of education, job training, and work.

Timely progress requirements are required during the first six years.

However, this varies depending on whether you are a student during those years.

In addition, during the seventh year, you must complete six months of work at the SGA level AND receive no SSDI or SSI benefits due to work during those six months.

What is an Employment Network (EN)? How do I find information on ENs in my area?

Employment Networks (ENs) provide services to those eligible for the Ticket to Work program.

SSI and SSDI beneficiaries can use the Ticket issued to them by SSA to obtain services with an EN.

ENs supports to assist Ticket to Work eligible participants in preparing for work and entering and maintaining employment.

These services can include vocational rehabilitation, training, referrals, job coaching, counseling, and placement services.

You can contact any EN in your area to see if the services and supports they offer are right for you.

To locate an EN near you, use the Find Help Tool to get a customized list of providers that are available to help you.

In addition, if you need help in choosing an EN, you can also call the Ticket to Work hotline at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY).

Can I change my Employment Network (EN)?

Yes, you are free to contact as many ENs as you like while you are looking for the one that is a good fit.

If you are not happy with your current EN, you are free to switch to a different one.

To change ENs, you will need to un-assign your Ticket.

Here’s how:

First, notify your current EN that you plan to un-assign your Ticket with them.

Next, submit a Ticket Un-assignment form. Click here to download the form.

Complete the form and include all of the required information.

Do I need to pay to participate in the Ticket Program?

No. The Ticket Program is free.

In addition, it is also and voluntary for people receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSI and SSDI).

The program allows you to receive vocational services and supports at no cost to you to help you obtain employment

The Social Security Administration pays the Employment Network you chose to work with when you achieve certain milestones and outcomes associated with work and earnings.

Will my Disability Benefits Be Reduced or Stopped if I Participate in the Ticket to Work Program?

No. You will continue to receive your benefits until you begin earning wages or self-employment income above the applicable earnings limits for SSI or SSDI.

In addition, while you participate in the program, Social Security will suspend medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).

However, how much you can earn before it will affect the amount of your monthly disability benefit will vary for each individual.

Will I lose Medicaid Coverage if I participate in the Ticket Program?

No. As long as you continue to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you will continue to remain eligible for Medicaid.

If you currently receive Medicaid, you might be eligible to continue to receive Medicaid even after you stop receiving SSI benefits due to work.

There are two ways your coverage may be extended:

First, you might be eligible through the Work Incentives program under the Social Security Act.

Second, your state might also have a program called the Medicaid Buy-In Program.

This program allows you to keep your Medicaid coverage by paying a monthly premium.

However, you have to also meet the other eligibility requirements established by your state.

To see whether your state has a Medicaid Buy-In Program and whether you might be eligible, contact your State Medicaid agency.

Ticket to Work Program Summary

We hope this post on the Social Security Ticket to Work Program was helpful.

If you have further questions about Social Security Ticket to Work Program, please let us know in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out our other articles on Social Security and Direct Express, including Social Security Stimulus Check UpdateDirect Express Stimulus Check and Top Questions and Answers on Direct Express.