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What should I know about the SSA’s Ticket to Work program?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  20 Comments

Learn how a Ticket to Work can help you work while getting Social Security Disability.

ticket-to-workA Ticket to Work Defined

The government created the Ticket to Work, which an employment support program for people with disabilities. The program serves those who are receiving Social Security Disability and who are interested in starting full or part-time work or increasing the work they already do. The goal of the Ticket to Work program is to increase opportunities for Social Security Disability beneficiaries to access vocational rehabilitation towards part- or full-time employment. The Ticket also assists in connecting the disabled person with other support services from public and private providers, employers, and other organizations.

Each provider group that administers services under the Ticket to Work is called an Employment Network . Each network receives government funding, including performance-based compensation. That is they receive payments when you, the ticket-holder, achieve certain employment-related milestones or outcomes.

How to Use a Ticket to Work

First of all the Ticket to Work program is voluntary. You are not required to use the Ticket to Work just because the Social Security Administration issues you one. However, it is a great opportunity.

If you are given a Ticket to Work, you’re encouraged to contact the Ticket to Work Operations Support Manager to learn about the various Employer Networks in your area and to select one. If, after considering your work experience, skills, disability, age, and location, the Network decides to accept your ticket, it will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help you find and maintain employment. Employment Networks are not required to serve everyone who selects them. They can elect which specific services they want to offer, which people they are capable of serving, and in which geographical area they will work. At any time, you can switch to another Employment Network or the Employment Network can end its agreement with you. For more information about Social Security’s return-to-work incentives, see our article “Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability?”

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  • Paige

    Hi Kay, I am wondering if you know about the VR counselors and how they close out your case when you move?
    I have recently moved, contacted the SSA, contacted my VR counselor and let him know, they have my Ticket to Work active in TX with the state VR services. I have a work plan. Just finished full time college, Jan thru May, no more now. My counselor responded to me with the comment, “please keep me updated on your progress and good luck with your goals.”
    I am wanting to know if I am able to keep him as my VR even though I have moved to another state this month? I am going to be interviewing with the USPS for some seasonal work next week and needed to send him the info I guess if he is still my counselor??
    I know it seems intuitive to just ask him but he is very busy and I don’t like to seem ignorant of what I am supposed to do if that doesn’t sound too stupid? Okay, it did. Sorry.
    So yes, it is important I guess because I am going to be trying to work part time at this seasonal job and want it to be part of my Ticket to Work program so I am meeting my goals and I don’t want my school portion to be discounted just because I moved to another state this month.
    So can I keep my VR counselor in my old state if I had an open Ticket to Work with them? And also, I forgot to mention, I will be back in that state in 4 months also.
    A bit disjointed, sorry, one of my issues.
    Thanks for your help
    Paige

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Paige,

      Given that your absence from the state is temporary, I would think you could keep the same counselor. However, the response from your counselor to your reported move sounds as if he closed your case. The quickest and best way to get this straightened out is to contact him and explain that your move is temporary and that you want to continue with him as your counselor and to have your seasonal job to be part of your plan. If he can’t continue with you, find out how to get your case transferred to a vocational firm where you are now that contracts with the Ticket to Work and how to get it transferred to him when you move back.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Bill

    First and foremost, I am so appreciative of you taking the time to answers my questions. This process can be overwhelming. I wanted to know how long does VR give you to complete your goals? Is there a time limit for Ticket to Work? Does your plan have to be approved by SSA? Do they have to help you pay for schooling?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bill,

      I can say that the program is there to help you and to a certain extent can be tailored to the individual, but I don’t have the answers to your questions. The Ticket to Work Hotline that I mentioned in a previous response should be able to answer the questions.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Bill

    I am interested in going to school to get a B.A. I have heard I can get help through Ticket to Work to do this. Is this true? If so, how long would they give me to complete school?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bill,

      When you request a Ticket to Work, you can then request vocational rehabilitation services, which will include an assessment of your work goals and the education needs to reach them. At that time, an anticipated time frame can likely be set based on how many classes at a time your health will allow. They should also be able to provide guidance regarding student aid grants.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Bill

        Thanks, Kay.

        You are a tremendous help. I have had these questions for so long. Because of my health, it would take me a long time to finish the schooling. I can’t travel far so would they let me attend a closer private school? Is there a cap on the financial help they give? Is this through the state or feds? Is it true CDR’s will be postponed while you are working towards your goal? My doctors care is ongoing for the rest of my life. Are you allowed to work part time while trying to finish school? I still need to supplement and want to try working 10-15 hours a week, but don’t know if I can. My ultimate goal is finish school to get a full time job.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Bill,

          You can probably choose your school if you can find funding to pay for it. There is no limit on financial aid you can receive, when it is set by Social Security law. Most government grants are federal or private. You do not receive SSI, but there is a list of some federal grants in a provision of SSI regulations. You might refer to it just to get an idea of some of the financial aid grants out there. (Disregard the discussion of countable income; it doesn’t apply to SSD.) The link is https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0500830455. CDRs are usually postponed. You can work part-time and go to school if you can manage it; however, unless you take very few hours at a time, your activity could equal full-time work and indicate that you are not disabled. Also to consider is whether you have to take a certain number of hours to get financial aid. Each grant will have its requirement.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Bill

            Thanks, Kay. I’m confused. I thought schooling doesn’t count as work. I wouldn’t be able to do a lot because of my health. It would be tough to take 2 classes at a time (so 6 credit hours,) but I have to try. I want to be a teacher. As far as working part time, I have something in mind. Water helps my disability so I want to teach kids how to swim like 10 hours a week if I am able. I feel useless not working and I can barely pay my bills. Would I be able to pursue this avenue under Ticket to Work? If my goal is full time work after obtaining my BA, would they stop my ticket to work if I worked part time?

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Bill,

              Your plan sounds good, and I think it is likely it would accepted. Your next step is to request the Ticket to Work and then the vocational services.

              Sincerely,
              Kay

          • Bill

            I don’t understand because I thought SSA doesn’t consider schooling work. I really need an answer so I can pursue my goals. Do the VR people help you apply for grants because that would be too overwhelming for me to do myself?

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Bill,

              Please see my response of today to your question about how to get a the Ticket to Work. If needed, it is likely that you could get assistance to apply for grants. Attending school is not working, but if a person is taking twelve hours of classes, which require about twenty-four hours of study and is working ten hours a week, the question arises, could the person take those forty-six hours a week and work full-time? The answer may be no because the person needs the education to work within his or her limitations. At this point, your best course would appear to be to get a Ticket to Work and follow your plan to go to school and become self-supporting after you attain a degree. Take it step by step.

              Sincerely,
              Kay

          • Bill

            Thanks, Kay.
            How do I request a Ticket to Work? I thought I contact vocational rehab and they initiate the ticket. Can you explain the process?

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Bill,

              You can request a Ticket to Work by calling the Ticket to Work Hotline at 1-866-968-7842. They will give you a list of vocational services firms in your area that have agreed to work with the Social Security Ticket to Work program. You can also get an advance overview of the Ticket to Work program by putting “Ticket to Work” in the search window of the Social Security website, http://www.ssa.gov. Several online brochures and articles will come up.

              Sincerely,
              Kay

          • Bill

            I’m really confused. If a person takes 12 hours of classes to equal 24 hours of study a week and works 10 hours a week, isn’t that 34 hours a week total? I’m not understanding the 46 hour total you came up with. Sorry, I’m just trying to understand how this works.

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Bill,

              The general rule of thumb is that it takes two hours study outside of class for every hour in the college classroom with each class requiring three hours. This, of course, is a general rule.

              Sincerely,
              Kay

  • Mary Long

    How much can you make in 2014 a month without it affecting your ssd

    • Mary Long

      How much can you make in 2014 a month without it affecting your ssd after the ticket to work period is over

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Mary,

        There is no “Ticket to Work” period. I believe you are referring to a Trial Work Period. If so, pease see my response to your first posting.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mary,

      If you have not used up your nine Trial Work Period months, you can earn any amount as long as you have not recovered medically. After that, during the 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility, Social Security Disability benefits will not be paid for any month in which you gross $1,090.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

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