Do you want to work, but afraid you will lose your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits? We all want to feel like a valuable part of society, and working is one way to contribute; earning money to buy things doesn’t hurt either. The Ticket to Work (TTW) program, governed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) was designed to help people with disabilities become more independent by assisting them in transitioning from SSDI to employment.
This is great; but how does the Ticket to Work program work, you might wonder. To be eligible for the ticket, you must be on SSI or SSDI and be between the ages of 18 to 64. Once you receive a ‘ticket’ from the SSA, you then take it to an employment support service, such as an Employment Network (EN), or to a Vocational Rehabilitation specialist. From then, working with the EN, you will identify your skills, strengths, work experience, and education to find a job or career path that would be suitable and practical for you. The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project (WIPA) in your area can assist you in figuring out how employment will affect your SSDI and health benefits, as well as answering other questions about TTW.
You might ask yourself, “Well, this sounds great, but I don’t want to lose my SSDI or health care, so why should I do this?” Good question, a lot people have this concern. The great thing about TTW is that you won’t lose your benefits or SSDI because there are programs in place to assist you in your transition from dependency to independence. One example of employment support is the TWP, or the Trial Work Period, in which you can receive full benefits regardless of your employment income, while you are ‘trying out’ working. Another useful aspect of TTW is, for instance, if your job doesn’t work out and you need to return to disability income, you can do so without penalty or having to reapply for SSDI. It is a winning strategy for becoming independent and earning money.
Another common question is, “If I work, won’t that mean that I will get less money each month?” The simple answer is ‘no.’ By the way, the average amount of monthly SSDI awarded is $950. Here is an oversimplified example:
1) Let’s say you receive $900/month from SSDI.
2) Let’s say you want a job that pays you $1200/ month
3) SSDI takes 50%, so you would still receive earnings from your job of: $600/month
4) You keep the difference of your SSDI income and job earnings: $900-$600= $300
5) Add the received SSDI amount to your original earnings: $300 + $1200= $1500
6) Working gives you: $1500/month. Not working gives you: $900/month
$600 more per month sounds good to me!
As of June 2011, countless SSDI recipients reported that the TTW program was beneficial. SSDI beneficiaries had a 265% increase in employment since 2008—that’s phenomenal! In those three years, the TTW program has saved over $91 million of SSDI benefits! That’s a big chunk of change.
To find out more information on the Ticket to Work program and benefits, sign up for the next free Work Incentives online seminar on July 27, 2011 3pm (EST). If you can’t make it, don’t worry, you can watch, listen, or read the information found online after the seminar is over.
Do any of you have experience with Ticket to Work? Tell us about it.