The Social Security Administration helps the disabled return to work.
The Social Security Administration offers programs and incentives to help those who are disabled get back to work.
Most people would rather work than collect disability. Beyond a paycheck, working provides structure and social support. The Ticket to Work program is available for those between the ages of 18 and 64 who collect disability benefits. This program helps beneficiaries keep their Medicaid or Medicare benefits and makes it easy for those who find they can’t work to return to collecting benefits. The Ticket to Work program is entirely voluntary and beneficiaries who do not want to attempt to work are not required to participate.
The Ticket to Work program is designed to offer those with disabilities assistance and support with employment.
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income because of their disability is eligible to participate. Participants used to receive literal paper tickets, but now you can enroll by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line (1-866-968-7842). The help line connects eligible beneficiaries to either an Employment Network (EN) or Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. An Employment Network focuses on job placement and will offer career counseling. Vocational Rehabilitation focuses on educational and rehabilitative services and may offer job placement or may refer clients to an Employment Network.
There are three major benefits to participating in the Ticket to Work program, Trial Work Period, Expedited Reinstatement, and Protection from Medical Continuing Disability Reviews.
- Trial Work Period allows you to continue to receive your full, normal amount of disability benefits for the first nine months of working regardless of how much you earn.
- Expedited Reinstatement ensures that should your benefits end because your earnings are too high, you can receive provisional benefits for six months while waiting on the re-application process.
- Protection from review means that as long you continue to make “timely progress” towards becoming financially independent, you will be exempted from Continuing Disability Review on the basis of medical conditions. “Timely progress” is reviewed annually and defined by meeting educational and vocational milestones such as getting and holding a job or completing training or degree programs. In general, the SSA will perform a Continuing Disability Review every three years where they evaluate changes in medical or financial conditions to re-determine your eligibility for benefits. Those successfully progressing in the Ticket to Work program do not have to participate in this review.
The goal of the Ticket to Work program is to help beneficiaries become financially independent.
There are, however, a few problems with the program. Many beneficiaries ignore the program altogether because it adds unnecessary complications to their already complicated lives. Much of the disability review process revolves around proving you are unable to work. It is difficult to prove you are unable to work if you are attempting to work in some capacity. Many people try to use the program and end up with an Employment Network that doesn’t help them. A report from an independent agency, as well as the SSA’s own records, reveal that participation rates in the program are extremely low and very few beneficiaries actually are able to re-join the workforce.
If you have been denied benefits because you have tried to return to work, the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed may be able to help.
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