The Ticket to Work Program: A Complete Overview and Guide


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The Ticket to Work Program: A Complete Overview and Guide

According to 2018 research reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four U.S. adults lives with some type of disability. Disabilities come in six categories, including mobility, cognition, vision, hearing, self-care, and independent living.

Those living with a permanent disability can find career assistance through the Ticket to Work Program. The curriculum gives people an opportunity to receive work incentives to help them maintain a healthy career.

So what is the Ticket to Work program, how does it work, and who is eligible to join? We've outlined all of the answers you're looking for below.

About the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program is a federal program set up for people between 18 and 64 years of age. It's designed for those who receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). 

The Ticket to Work program helps people with disabilities find, get, prepare for, and keep a job. It includes training, referrals, job coaching and counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and placement services.

The program gives American citizens the ability to immediately return to monthly benefits if they need to stop working due to their disability. They can continue to receive health care benefits and will never have to undergo a medical continuing disability review (CDR) while in the program.

The program's purpose is to make it easier for Americans living with a life-long disability to find a job. With the Ticket to Work program, participants can pursue their goals through education and employment opportunities despite having a permanent disability.

The Ticket to Work program is free for those who are eligible to join.

Who's Eligible to Join the Ticket to Work Program

America's Ticket to Work program is designed for disabled citizens between the ages of 18 and 64. You should already be receiving SSI or SSDI cash benefits. 

Most SSDI and SSI beneficiaries are eligible to join the Ticket to Work program. The program is not offered to those who:

  • Are expected to improve medically without a continuing disability review 
  • Receive state supplement SSI payments but are not eligible for federal benefits
  • Collect continued benefits while appealing a medical cessation decision
  • Are eligible for Section 301 payments while participating in a state department of a rehabilitation program
  • Take in temporary benefits under the expedited reinstatement rules
  • Receive expedited payments for presumptive disability or presumptive blindness

If you are interested in joining the Ticket to Work Program, there is not a formal registration process. Social Security does not mail out paper tickets to eligible contenders.

To verify you are eligible to join the Ticket to Work program, you should call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TDD/TTY). You can also learn more via the Ticket to Work website.

How to Get Started

Providers who have a contract with the SSA to provide resources for Ticket to Work program participants include Employment Networks and Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies.

Employment Networks (ENs) provide career counseling, job search, and placement services. They offer resume workshops and conduct practice interviews. They continue to give program participants support while they are employed.

Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (VRs) retrain people on a new career path. VRs provide more extensive job counseling and placement services than ENs.

Once you have confirmed your eligibility to join the Ticket to Work Program, you should choose an Employment Network or Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. You may only use one at time.

If you choose an EN, you will meet with a counselor to discuss your career goals and decide the steps to take to get you where you want to go.

Once you and your EN provider come to an agreement, an Individual Work Plan (IWP) will be written. An IWP is a formal agreement describing how the program's services will help the participant achieve their goals. The IWP outlines specific steps to take and includes a detailed schedule.

Once the IWP is established and signed by both the participants and the EN, it will be sent to the Ticket to Work program manager.

If you are not happy with the EN you have chosen, you can change to a different EN with no questions asked. Your EN will unassign your ticket and reassign it to your new EN.

If you choose a VR instead of an EN, the process is similar but varies state-by-state.

What to Expect

Once you've gotten started with the Ticket to Work program, there are a few things to keep in mind. It's important to understand timely progress and how long the program lasts.

Timely Progress

After you've signed and established an Individual Work Plan with your EN, you must make timely progress towards your career goals. There will be specific requirements you'll be expected to meet within a 12-month span.

These requirements are based on how:

  • How long you've been participating in the Ticket to Work program
  • How much you have worked
  • The amount of money you have earned
  • Your education and training

The longer you participate in the program, the more requirements you will be expected to fulfill. This is referred to as timely progress.

If you cannot make timely progress, you will be temporarily suspended from the Ticket to Work program. Your status will be frozen and you'll be considered "inactive." This often occurs for people who suffer illnesses or disability flare-ups that prevent them from working.

If your health improves and you're ready to rejoin the program, you can reactivate your status and jump in exactly where you left off. You will be put back on your regular timely progress schedule.

Program Length

The Ticket to Work program is designed to span over seven years. This includes education, job training, and securing a job.

Timely progress requirements are followed during the participant's first six years. Once you reach the seventh year, you must complete six months of work at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level and receive no SSDI or SSI benefits during that time.

The Ticket to Work program doesn't eliminate you from receiving SSDI work protections or PASS protections of SSI. Instead, the program is designed to include incentives and help participants feel empowered through educational guidance.

Learn More About Resources for the DisABLED

The Ticket to Work program has made great strides to help those with disabilities enter the workforce and reach their goals. It's designed to help people feel empowered and keep them on the path to success.

Learn more about the Ticket to Work program as well as other programs available for disABLEd citizens by contacting us today. Click here to get in touch with one of our expert team members now. Click here to see jobs for people with disabilities.