I'm on Social Security Disability and thinking of going back to Work: Part 3-Ticket to Work Program

In this blog, I will talk about the person who is on Social Security Disability and wants to try to go back to work full time. I think most would agree that the person who wants to do that may need some help. Enter the Ticket to Work Program. This program is a free and voluntary program available to people ages 18 through 64 who receive SSDI or supplemental Security Income (SSI).

According to the SSA.gov site, the goals of the Ticket to Work Program are to offer beneficiaries expanded choices when seeking services and supports to enter, re-enter, and or maintain employment. Increase the financial independence of self-sufficiency of the beneficiaries with disabilities and reduce and possibly eliminate reliance on the SSA disability benefits.

To participate, you need to sign up with an approved Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. Either of these, if they accept the Ticket assignment will help you. The services they provide may be training, career counseling, job placement, rehabilitation and ongoing support.

Within this program, you can safely explore work options without putting your benefits at risk and hopefully find the right job. A plus to this program is that you can use a combination of SSA’s work incentives such as the Trial Work Period to maximize your income until you begin to learn enough and earn enough to support yourselves. The big take away with the Ticket to Work Program is that you can:

1)      Go to work without automatically losing your disability benefits

2)      Return to your benefits if cannot continue to work and need to stop

3)      Continue to receive your healthcare benefits

4)      Be protected from receiving a medical continuing disability review while using in the Program and making the expected progress.

There are two terms here that you may have never heard of before. The first is Employment Networks (EN). This is a private or public entity (including State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies) which entered into an agreement with the Social Security Administration to provide the above services to you. You and the EN must agree to work together and develop a plan for your employment goals and outline their services to you.

You have a right to shop around for an EN that fits your needs and wants. There are a lot of them out there. Do not settle until and unless you have exhausted your options. Note that some ENs do their own specific thing while others do everything. Some ENs may be only educational and offer you courses, some vocational and offer specific training while others may only offer job placement.  You can check out https://www.ssa.gov/work/home.html  for EN help. ENs as a private entity get paid from the Social Security Administration after you have a positive result of retuning to and sustaining work.

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies can be a tremendous help to you. They can help retrain you, educate you and find you work.  The National Association of the Deaf has a directory of State Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation, here is the link: https://www.nad.org/resources/directories/statewide-vocational-rehabilitation-services/

So what are the takeaways for using the Ticket to Work Program? You don’t automatically lose your benefits, there is an easier path back to your benefits if you cannot continue to work, you will continue to receive your healthcare benefits for a while and the SSA cannot do a medical continuing disability review when you are in the program.


I hope this has given you some insight into the Ticket to Work Program? See you next week!


disABLEDperson, Inc.

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