In our experience, many Oregon residents who receive Social Security Disability benefits would like to be able to work in some capacity but don’t explore the possibility fearing that it won’t work out and that they’ll lose their benefits as a result. The good news is that in most cases — thanks to the Social Security Administration’s “Ticket to Work” program — the only thing to fear is fear itself.
For anyone not familiar with it, the Ticket to Work program provides people who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits with training, vocational rehabilitation, job referrals and other support services designed to help them find jobs and keep them. Better still, the program is completely voluntary, costs nothing to participate in and is open to any adult who receives disability benefits.
Ticket to Work services are provided by employer networks comprised of private organizations and other government agencies that have agreed to work with the SSA. The networks may be run by a single organization that provides employment services or by a group of providers. These providers sometimes work with other organizations that are not a part of the SSA-related network in order to provide needed services as well.
If you participate, staff members of the network organization you choose (and yes, you do get a choice!) will ask you questions about your disability, work history and other subject areas in order to determine whether the organization can help you. If so, and if you and the network agree to work together, the staff members will work with you to develop a plan regarding the type of work you will do, the amount of money to be earned, and other issues.
It’s also worth noting that if you are participate in the program and make timely progress pursuing your return to work plan, the SSA will not conduct a review of your medical condition, as is normally required on a periodic basis. Instead, the agency will send you more information about the requirements after you finalize and sign a plan with an employment network or state vocational rehabilitation agency.
Lastly, participation in the Ticket to Work program will likely affect your disability payments but does allow you to keep the money you earn and medical coverage while you transition to the work place. Keep in mind, however, that if you find you cannot work, it is easy to restart disability payments again. For answers to other questions, talk to an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer or contact the SSA directly.
Source: ssa.gov, “Your Ticket to Work,” March 2012