Ticket to Work Works

Man in wheelchair after acident at work. Worker suffering from an illness.If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability benefits and you think you are ready to work, our Ticket to Work program can help. Ticket to Work is our free and voluntary program that helps you get vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support services.

This program is for individuals ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time. While many disabled individuals are unable to work, we know that some of you want to try. Work incentives make it easier to work and still receive health care and cash benefits from Social Security while providing protections if you have to stop working due to your disability.

Social Security works with employment networks to offer beneficiaries access to meaningful employment. Employment networks are organizations and agencies, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies, that provide various employment support services. Some services they may help you with include résumé writing, interviewing skills, and job leads.

Ticket to Work gives you the opportunity to choose from several employment networks. You’re free to talk with as many employment networks as you want before choosing one. If you sign an agreement with an employment network, they’ll help you develop an employment plan. We’ll review your progress for achieving the goals of your employment plan every 12 months. If you’re making timely progress in your return to work plan, we will not conduct a medical review of your disability during the time you’re in the program.

Many people have successfully completed the Ticket to Work program, and are now enjoying fulfilling careers and earning more income for their families. If this sounds like your goal for the future, you may want to explore this program to see if it’s right for you.

If you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, please call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). You can also get more information on the program online at www.socialsecurity.gov/work or www.choosework.net.


53 thoughts on “Ticket to Work Works

  1. I do need more income as my disability is not enough to live on. I have no other supportive income. I can not even afford to live on my own and am living with my son and his family. This is really uncomfortable. I even lost my own home due to lack of income. I need the help and more income.

    • I am currently on SS disability. Like everyone else, not enough income to live one. Need to supplement. Was a corporate paralegal before my illness. Just looking for part time, preferably not in a stressful work environment like a law firm, as they require billing for time.

    • I am going through the same thing Katherine. I’m so afraid to try and work again but I have to do something just to stay out of public housing. Good luck to us right?

      • I worked for two years on the ticket to work program before becoming ill again in Sept 2015. I have been trying to have an EXR done with no success. Losing everything. Social security is more interested in helping illegal aliens and Syrian refugees rather than native born paid into system Americans. Customer service is the worst. As I near major surgery, my family has no income, eviction notice and shutoff notices on all bills. SO I DEFINITELY ADVISE AGAINST THIS PROGRAM AS IT IS A WAY TO NEVER PAY YOU AGAIN. Give it all away to the non citizens. Deceitful

        • Steven, I have just failed in the Ticket to Work program. I was unable to perform important functions of my job. I have applied for EXR but am stuck in a limbo land with no SSDI check and no Part B Medicare. The program says, “Nothing to Lose” but there is. If I had to do it all again, I would not have tried going back to work. I also had a hefty income tax debt I was unprepared for. The SSDI checks I received initially were added to my income from work and I owed taxes. I don’t mind, I just was unprepared and not informed.

          • What does the term,
            “expedited reinstatement” mean? I cannot find the answer in any website or red book. Will my first payment be in 30, 60, 90 days? Can anyone say?

          • Thank you for your question Debbie. The Expedited Reinstatement provision allows an individual to receive up to 6 months of provisional (temporary) cash benefits while SSA conducts a medical review to determine whether the individual can be reinstated to benefits.

    • SS pays about the same as what they called “gainful employment”. So faaaaar from the truth!! Really!? The amount paid translates to “lossful spinning your wheels.” and “a plate full of hopelessness” while being evicted form a dwelling. SS is a ponsi scheme that congress robs when it wants to, even though fed govt isn’t supposed to take from it.

  2. I am in my mid-70s and in good health. Retired as an engineer in design and analysis of building structures. I am interested in finding a suitable job as an engineer either part time or full time to supplement my social security income.

  3. I am available for work as an engineer either full time or part time to supplement my soc. security income.


    • No, if over 64 yrs. People 65 and over cannot do Ticket to Work. People 66 and older can work full time and earn as much as they can without it affecting their SSR however they will have to pay income tax on their SSR if they make over a designated amount for the year. I am 72 yrs. old and working full time. In 2014 I paid $3,000.00 on top of almost $15,000.00 income tax from payroll deduction. Even after having an extra $200.00 monthly taken from my paycheck to offset. If I did not love my job, I would go to part-time to save on income tax that I owe the IRS.

    • Thank you for your question Mr. Sanchez. The Ticket to Work program is for individuals ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time.

  5. My company, in conjunction with many Community Colleges and Universities, trains workers in the healthcare field for entry level jobs. Courses are mostly online and yield a national certificate for satisfactory completion. We do offer some courses on campus as well. How do we get on your list?

    • Sidney Gilman, I am a Cpht but having a hard time getting work because my disability does not allow me to stand for long hours. Most pharmacies will not hire for someone for only 3-4 a day. Also because I do not have a car I can not travel which makes it even harder to find a job. All the good jobs are too far from my house.

  6. I am on social security/disability due to disability since 2012 because of my age income is not enough to live on lost my home and am living in horrible motels looking to go back to work to be able to affords place if my own it’s a horrible feeling to lose your home and live from one horrible place to the next for a year now. I would rather suffer in pain and work every day than live like this it’s horrible I hope and pray I can find something soon losing all hope

    • O wow I thought I was the only one ..I’m currently working on a ticket to work program .before I didn’t have enough to live off of..Goodwill industry is a part of the ticket to work program and a great place to work give them a call if u guys have one in your area.. God bless and it will get better…

  7. I would like to say this works, however in Roanoke, VA about 7 years ago I entered this program – they gave me a series of tests and never contacted me again, I would call and receive no calls back. If this program is supposed to be helpful someone needs to train the employees in Roanoke, Va. So thoroughly disgusted.

    • Interesting thing about “training.” I got caught in one of these jobs, and when I asked what training options were available, they explained that this “training” simply meant “teaching people to report to work on time every day.”

  8. I currently live in Dallas TX.. And was having a hard time with out a job…I now currently work for Goodwill industries.. It’s a great place to work and they hire disabled …and also apart of the ticket to work program.. Give them a call in your area… If your in the Dallas area go online our warehouse is currently hiring… Apply God bless and Good luck

  9. does a person who is disabled physically and some mental, ,work part time for themselves,have to file a tax return.? and how much can they make without having to file a tax return.person on ssi and ssd

    • Hi Marie. For income tax related questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. Also, we recommend you read our publication “Working While Disabled – How We Can Help”, to learn more about the special rules that make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. Thanks!

  10. I tried working under the Ticket to Work program. All was fine until I reported it to the state. I lost all my food stamps and all the help with my Medicare premium and co-pays. On top of that since I live in HUD housing my rent almost doubled. I ended up giving 2 weeks notice after only 2 weeks. I realized that for a part time job making around $500 I was losing so many supports that I wouldn’t be able to live. I wouldn’t be able to pay the doctor co-pays that make it possible for me to seek employment.
    I don’t think that is the way it’s meant to work but it is reality.

    • Kathy, I think what you wrote is EXACTLY how it is for so many of us! We can’t survive without extra income from work, but working causes us to lose the extra benefits like food stamps & medicare or medicaide co-pay assistance etc, affordable housing and so on. It feels like we end up penalized for even trying to work to survive on even a meager income. I am glad this program works for some, but for many, I think it just ends up making things worse. The system is definitely broken, and I don’t know the solution. I am most definitely caught in the cycle though 🙁

  11. My own experience with this was quite hellish. I was significantly misinformed from the start, so that I found myself trapped into a very disability-inappropriate job. People need to be clearly informed about the “trial work period,” the impact of the “retrospective budgeting” policies, etc. They need to be informed about sub-minimum wages, and the different rules that apply in “sheltered workshops.”

  12. BEWARE !!!!!
    If you find work while collecting social security do not make any extra pay ! If you
    Make more money than you are expected
    You will be raped of that overage plus the money you earn afteafterwards ! My wife was on social security, during the holidays she was called on to work a few extra hour’s to help, plus being the holidays and always need to gift 3 children 5 grandchildren plus divorced parents a token gift, buy extra food and all the minor things needed for the Christmas season a couple of extra dollars not hundreds but much less. We still with both incomes hers only I was looking for work so had no income. We still were impoverished. Wayyyy under. The kicker is all in all we end up being sued having a lien put on our financed home for OVER 9,000 $ !!! Rember she made a couple extra dollars not 9k ! Faaaaarrr from it! But when we questioned soc. Sec. We were told too bad you got overpaid so we are going to take everything back and you are on your own. Not for the overtime pay but for the months you got your 300 $ disability checks. So beware the rules change like the wind and unless you keep questioning you might end up paying for your disability. Even if you make 8.00 $ a hour and get paid x2 weeks. Social security has even changed its mandate from a couple years back. Originally the requirement was If you are unable to do the work you did most of your working days, you are considered disabled. Now if you can look at a monitor, answer a phone, speak English, or receive people YOU ARE NOT considered so. It matters not that work like this is non existent.

  13. When reading this information about “Ticket to Work” I felt that it was misleading because it talk about people who get Social Security Disability and how they can use this program. The Ticket to Work program is program that can be used by both people who receive Social Security Disability and people who receive Supplemental Security Income. Ticket is one work incentive offered by SSA to find out about other work incentives visit our worksite at http://www.ssa.gov/work.

  14. I must say all that I read makes me even more embarrassed to know such inequity for poor/or disabled people exists. Sad sad state of affairs.

  15. Ticket to Work sounded like a great deal when I signed up but the protections that they tell you are available are made impossible to get. I went back to work on this program in September 2013 and Social Security continued my benefits for 9 months as they said they would. I was a computer programmer for over 30 years and was able to get back into my field without a lot of retraining and debt making 3 times my disability benefit. My biggest fear was what happens if I get sick and have to quit working. In August 2015 I had to leave my job as I was having health problems. I was able to recover quickly but went to Social Security on November 3, 2015 to request benefits under the EEP due to wages below the SGA. I won’t bore you wth the details but on April 17, 2016, I have not received a dime from Social Security. I have lost Medicare because I can’t pay for it, I lost my apartment and am living with family and bill collectors are constantly calling. I call Social Security on a weekly basis and am continually told that it is in the payment center and they need more time to process my claim. It has been almost 6 months. How much time do they need. I have disabilities and need to see a physician every 3 months. I need medication. I am an insulin dependent diabetic and without insurance this one Rx cost $700 a month which I don’t have. I feel like Social Security has completely abandoned me and must be hoping I will die and they won’t have to pay me another dime. Social Security is money that my employers and I paid. It is not welfare. I am approved for disability. They are not waiting for medical information to be submitted. They just need to turn my benefits back on. This is suppose to be one of the incentives to get you to go to work but if you’re going to loose everything you work for if something happens then why bother. I would also like to point out that at least in my state, if you are eligible for the Social Security benefits, you are not eligible for Unemployment benefits so save as much as you can while you are working as it may be all you have if you have to stop working.

    • We are sorry to hear about your situation, Walter. Unfortunately, we do need some processing time to reinstate your payments and your Medicare benefits. We know your local office is doing the best they can to resolve your situation. Please continue to work with your local office, and if necessary, ask to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite your request. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week.

  16. I just received this Ticket to work letter. All it did was make me more depressed. I see a total of 8 doctors, take 15 types of medications. I’m always in pain, can’t drive, vision is always blurry because of meds. Taking pain medications causes me not to think properly or carry a conversation, I’ve had 3 back surgeries, I lost count of how many painful procedures and back injections doctors have given me. I need another back surgery. I can’t stand for more than 5 minutes because I start hurting, same for sitting, same for lying down. I can’t bend, can’t lift. I was a bookkeeper for 30 years. During my appeal to social security i lost everything my husband and I worked so hard for. My monthly pay was $3000. If I could go back to work I would but I can’t ! My husband is with me 24/7 taking care of me, take me to doctor appointments.
    I am sorry this just really upset me. 😭

    • We apologize for any misunderstanding Maria. The Ticket To Work Program is a free and voluntary program available for individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you decide to participate in the Ticket to Work Program, you can get the help you need to safely explore work options without immediately losing your benefits. Again, the program is free and voluntary, meaning you do not have to pay for services received under the Ticket to Work program and there is no penalty for not participating. We hope this information helps!

  17. This program was totally describe wrong. I am Disabled, I do not plan on going back full time to work, if I could, I would have already done this I was under the understanding that the money you made was to have extra money to live on, since me and my daughter are very poor. I get 657. dollars per month, now I get a little job with the IRS working only 1 hour a day for five days, that’s 113 every two weeks. With that money they take the gross amount (which is wrong) and cut it in half and decrease that amount from my ssi check, so I’m actually making less than when I’ve started. Everytime I called ss they said a third party was going to contact me, I’ve done this 3 times and no one has ever contacted me. I read these horrible stories and I am very scared. First because I’m disabled and I can’t completely go back to work and when the year is up, I to have to wait to be reinstated?? OMG what would I do? Am I to be homeless with a 13 year old daughter? I’m really scared and I did the wrong thing here and there’s no one to talk about this with, that will give you true facts about the program. Why would anyone do this if they take half of your money? All this is for is for the government to get you off of disability and back to working, when I can’t work full time. I need help, not more problems and less money.

  18. Ok so I am doing just fine on my Sadi checks, I’ve worked hard long hours in the past. But now I’ve been disabled for 10yrs and my pride is telling me to get an education and get back to some sort of work.
    My questions are will ticket to work help me learn a career that will pay me as I have earned in the past?
    And what happens if I can’t even get threw to ticked to work program?
    I am doing my best to get off my pain meds but if I can’t live with the pain then what?
    Is SSDI going to stop payments?
    I can’t go back to my usual “old” occupation do to my injury.

    • Susan, please see my post below. The Ticket to Work will help you very little if at all with your stated vocational goals. Really, at this time, the only plus to submitting your Ticket is that you are precluded from having a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) when it is in effect. Otherwise, it is essentially worthless despite contention by the SSA otherwise. So, just use your 9 month Trial Work Period, your state’s Medicaid Buy-in, and the other work incentives available to you that have little to do with your Ticket, as they can be used to good effect w/out it. However, most SSA field office staff are painfully uninformed as to what these work incentives are and how they are used so a call to your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) is also a good move. They can help explain the Trial Work Period, Substantial Gainful Activity, Extended Period of Eligibility, etc. and how best to interface/ your local SSA office. If not then just reply to this post and I will help you understand how this whole thing works myself!

  19. remind us again why the unemployment rate in the U.S. for workers with disabilities has WORSENED since the Ticket to Work was signed in 1999. For all the time and money why hasn’t the ABYSSMAL disability unemployment rate improved? Why aren’t more PWD employed in 2016? In reality, the Ticket to Work, for all the time and money spent, has been an abject failure and quite simply has NOT translated into more PWD going to work, let alone above SGA levels which I understand was sort of the goal. That is just the data talking, my friend.

  20. I am currently trying, The Ticket to Work program and I’m 65. I need to supplement my social security disability. With only part time work because that’s all I can do. I can’t afford to lose my SSDI, so now I’m really worried and thinking maybe I should not do this because I can’t afford to lose Medicare or Medicaid or Medicare premium paid, I still have disabilities, any suggestions? My Social Security starts next year, 66 and then I can work part-time without worry? After reading this blog I’m really concerned. Does anyone do this program successfully and are they able to supplement the income from SSDI or SSI without losing their medical benefits, SSDI or SSI?

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