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Ticket to Work: A Social Security Work Incentive Program

New York has several work incentive programs for individuals receiving Social Security Disability Benefits.  These work incentive programs put individuals earning Disability Benefits in touch with employers and hone their job skills so that they might be able to return for work.  One such program is the Ticket to Work program.

The Ticket to Work program is a voluntary program that offers individuals who are earning Social Security Disability Benefits a number of choices in getting the support and services they need to return to work.  The program’s goals are to put individuals who are on Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income in touch with the vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and continuing support that they need to begin working again.  Ticket to Work has been in effect since January of 2002 and is currently available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all of the U.S. territories.

Eligibility is easy!  With a few exceptions, anyone over the age of 18 who is either a Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiary or a Supplemental Security Income recipient because of disability or blindness and is receiving both monthly Social Security cash benefits and monthly Federal cash benefits is eligible. 

After receiving your Ticket, you can choose from one of several local Employment Networks (EN).  An EN is either a state agency or a private entity that takes responsibility for providing the job training and coordinating referrals.  The EN is responsible for helping you find a job and getting training, at absolutely no cost to you. 

After you have chosen the Employment Network that is best for you, you work together with the EN to develop an Individual Work Plan, which states the goals for the kind of work that you want to do and how much you want to earn.  The plan will also state the services the EN will provide you.

You may continue on the Ticket to Work program for a period of 60 months.  However, in order to remain the program you must demonstrate that you are making progress on your Individual Work Plan.  This means that during the initial 24 months on the program, you must actively participate in the Individual Work Plan and for each subsequent 12 month period you must be undertaking increased work activity and earnings.

The great benefit of this plan is that, while on the Ticket to Work, the SSA will suspend your periodic medical reviews.  Typically, your medical condition is reviewed from time to time under Social Security laws to ensure that you should still be receiving disability benefits.  Under the Ticket to Work program, the SSA will not conduct a review of your medical condition as long as you continue to meet certain requirements.  Information about those requirements will be available to you when you receive your ticket.

New York has over 100 ENs, a list of which can be found here.  To date, New Yorkers have applied for and received over 700,000 Tickets to Work.