In our previous post we discussed the service that the Social Security Disability Insurance program provides to an increasing number of workers in the Portland area and around the country.
In addition to providing an essential safety net for many disabled workers, the Social Security Disability program also helps individuals return to work. Congress instituted the “Ticket to Work” program in 1999 to offer Social Security beneficiaries help with their job searches. Medical reviews are also waived for program participants.
Approximately 13,656 disabled workers returned to work through the Ticket to Work program in the past few years but only a third of these workers earned enough in their new jobs to drop benefits, The New York Times reports. Another 32,445 recipients dropped their benefits in 2009 without the assistance of the Ticket to Work program.
Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of Social Security program, noted that a push for the Ticket to Work program would not help Social Security’s solvency or greatly increase the amount of people returning to the workforce. This is because those who receive disability payments are truly disabled and would voluntarily return to work if they could.
“You do it because work – for people who can work – gives them dignity and improves their economic condition,” Astrue said.
The New York Times recently profiled several Social Security beneficiaries who are attempting to return to work despite their disabilities. These workers demonstrate that disabled workers receive Social Security benefits because they are needed and do not consider benefits to be an attractive alternative to working.
“I would feel better if I worked and made my own money,” one recipient said. “Because that way when somebody who needs it even more than I do, the Social Security would be there for them.”
Source: The New York Times, “Disabled, but looking for Work,” Motoko Rich, 4/6/11