Ticket to Work FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions For People Receiving Social Security Benefits


Question:

What is a Ticket?

Answer:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) issue a Ticket to Work to individuals, ages 18 through 64, who are determined to be eligible for or who are receiving cash benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and/or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program based on disability or blindness. These Tickets can be used to obtain services and supports from approved service providers (called Employment Networks or ENs) under the Ticket to Work program. If you are interested in working, the Ticket to Work program might be your key to accessing vocational rehabilitation, education, training, and placement services, as well as other services and supports to help you reach your employment goals.

Question:

Do I have to participate in the Ticket Program?

Answer:

No. The goal of the Ticket to Work program is to help people receiving Social Security disability benefits obtain employment and work toward greater independence and increased self-sufficiency. SSA pays ENs when the people receiving Social Security disability benefits they work with achieve certain Milestones and Outcomes associated with work and earnings. The program is free and voluntary, meaning you do not have to pay for services received under the Ticket program and there is no penalty for not participating.

Question:

How and when will SSA tell me that I have a Ticket?

Answer:

When you were determined to be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits, you should have received a paper Ticket in the mail that was accompanied by a letter from SSA explaining the Ticket to Work program.

Question:

Do I need to have the paper Ticket sent to me by SSA in order to participate in the program?

Answer:

No, you don’t need to have the paper Ticket to start working with an approved provider of vocational services and supports called an Employment Network (EN). The EN you select can contact the Operations Support Manager, MAXIMUS, to verify your eligibility to participate in the program. However, if you lose or misplace your Ticket and want a new one, you can contact MAXIMUS at 866-968-7842 (voice) 866-833-2967 (TTY) to get a replacement Ticket.

Question:

What is an Employment Network (EN)? How do I find information on ENs in my area?

Answer:

ENs are organizations and agencies, including your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, that entered into an agreement with the Social Security Administration to provide employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other types of support services to people receiving Social Security disability benefits under the Ticket to Work program.

You can contact any EN in your area to see if the services and supports they offer are right for you. Both you and the EN must agree to work together and develop a plan that describes your employment goal and outlines the services and supports the EN will provide to help you reach that goal. If you need help in choosing an EN, visit www.yourtickettowork.com or call 866-968-7842 (voice) 866-833-2967 (TTY).

You are free to talk with as many ENs as you choose without having to assign your Ticket. If you assign your Ticket to an EN and later change your mind about working with that EN, you can un-assign your Ticket and take it to another EN.

Question:

Do I need to pay anything to participate in the Ticket Program?

Answer:

No. The Ticket Program is free (and voluntary) for people receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Ticket Program allows you to receive vocational services and supports at no cost to you to help you obtain employment and work toward greater independence and increased self-sufficiency. SSA will pay the Employment Network you chose to work with when you achieve certain Milestones and Outcomes associated with work and earnings.

Question:

Can I participate in the Ticket Program and get services from my State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency?

Answer:

Yes. State VR agencies are ENs that provide a wide variety of services and supports to help people with disabilities return to work, enter a new line of work, or enter the workplace for the first time. To locate the VR agency in your state, visit www.rehabnetwork.org. Go to the right side.

Question:

Will I lose my Social Security benefits when I participate in the Ticket Program to get vocational services and supports?

Answer:

No. You will continue to receive your benefits until you begin earning wages or self-employment income above the applicable earnings limit for the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance program. The Social Security Administration cannot perform a medical “Continuing Disability Review” to determine whether you continue to have a disability while you are participating in the Ticket Program and progressing towards your employment goal, so only your earnings can affect your benefit eligibility. How much you can earn before it will affect the amount of your monthly benefit will vary for each individual. This is due in part to the fact that you can subtract certain amounts from your gross earnings by taking advantage of SSA Work Incentives. For more information on SSA Work Incentives, check out the SSA Red Book at: www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Question:

What are Work Incentives?

Answer:

Work Incentives are disability program rules that allow you to reduce your countable income so you can continue to receive a cash benefit while you explore work or look for a job that is right for you. Examples of such Work Incentives include the extension of Medicare and Medicaid coverage while working, Impairment-Related Work Expenses, and Plans for Achieving Self-Support. In addition, if your work attempt is unsuccessful, SSA has made it easy for you to return to benefits when and if needed.

To learn more about these and other SSA Work Incentives, check out the Social Security Red Book at www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Question:

Going to work seems complicated. Is there someone who can help me understand the disability program rules and Work Incentives?

Answer:

SSA has approved local organizations in every State and Territory to serve as Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects. WIPA staff are trained and certified to provide information and planning services about work and Work Incentives to individuals 14 to 64 years old who are eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits. WIPA staff can answer questions about how part-time, full-time, or seasonal work will affect your benefits.

WIPA staff can also discuss your individual employment goals, assist you in identifying possible barriers to reaching those goals, and help you find the resources or services to overcome those barriers. WIPA services are FREE.

Question:

Will I lose my Medicare eligibility if I participate in the Ticket program?

Answer:

No. As long as you continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit payments, you will continue to remain eligible for the same medical coverage. There are also Work Incentives that allow you to continue your medical coverage once you begin earning enough that you stop receiving SSDI payments. If you currently receive medical coverage through Medicare, you can continue to be eligible for coverage for at least 93 months after the last month of your Trial Work Period.

Question:

Will I lose my Medicaid Coverage if I participate in the Ticket program?

Answer:

No. As long as you continue to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you will continue to remain eligible for the same medical coverage.

If you currently receive Medicaid, you might be eligible to continue to receive Medicaid even after you stop receiving SSI benefits due to work. There are two ways in which your coverage might be extended. First, you might be eligible through a Work Incentive created by Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act. You need to meet certain other requirements to qualify for this Work Incentive and can find more information regarding this program here: www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/1619b.htm

Your state might also have a program called the Medicaid Buy-In Program, which allows you to keep your Medicaid coverage by paying a monthly premium, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements established by your state. To see whether your state has a Medicaid Buy-In Program and whether you might be eligible, contact your State Medicaid agency. A link to the web site for the Medicaid agency in your state can be found at www.nasmd.org/links/state_medicaid_links.asp

Question:

What happens if my benefits stop due to my earnings and then I can no longer work due to my disability? Will I need to file a brand new application for benefits?

Answer:

No. If your benefits ended because you worked and had earnings, you can request that your benefits start again without having to complete a new application. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether you can get benefits again, SSA can give you provisional (temporary) benefits for up to 6 months. This is because of a Work Incentive called Expedited Reinstatement. You can ask for your benefits to start again using Expedited Reinstatement for up to five years after you stop receiving benefits.

For more information regarding Expedited Reinstatement, visit: www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/exr.htm

Question:

What is “timely progress”? What does it mean for me if I use my Ticket?

Answer:

The Ticket program regulations require that a Ticket holder be making “timely progress” toward their stated employment goal in order for the person’s Ticket to be considered “in use” and for the person to be protected from SSA performing a Continuing Disability Review of that Ticket Holder’s medical condition.

MAXIMUS, the Program Operations Manager for the Ticket program, will review your file every 12 months to make sure you are making timely progress toward your employment goal. This can include educational pursuits such as obtaining a General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.) or attending college and/or technical school. As long as you participate in the activities outlined in your Individualized Work Plan and cooperate with your EN, MAXIMUS will likely find that you are making timely progress toward your employment goal. Even if you are not making timely progress you can still use your Ticket but you are not protected from any scheduled continuing disability reviews.

 


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Opportunities Unlimited of Erie
Jennifer Poulson 814-878-3449
E-mail: jpoulson@stairwaysbh.org

2185 West 8th Street
Erie, PA 16505
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