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Are you Receiving Benefits and Interested in Working?


If you are interested in working, the Ticket to Work Program is the key to unlocking vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other ongoing support and services to help you reach your employment goals. The program is available for people who are between the ages of 18 and 65 and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for people who are disabled or blind.

You can take your Ticket to any Employment Network (EN) or State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency to request assistance in job training, preparing materials to use to find a job, locating employers informing you about work incentives and other assistance in you may need to work.

What are the advantages of using the Ticket and Work Incentives?

While you are actively participating in the Ticket to Work program, you can get the help you need to find the job that is right for you and you can safely explore your work options without losing your benefits.

  • You can easily return to benefits if you have to stop working (known as “expedited reinstatement of benefits”);
  • You can continue to receive healthcare benefits; and
  • You will not receive a continuing disability review (CDR) while using your Ticket.

In addition, you will still be able to use other Social Security Administration programs and work incentives to help you transition into work:

How does work affect my check benefits?

First, you should know that if you go back to work, you will NOT automatically lose your disability benefits. The Ticket to Work and special rules called "work incentives" allow you to keep your cash benefits and Medicare or Medicaid while you test your ability to work. For the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, there is a trial work period during which you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn, as long as you report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment.

The trial work period continues until you accumulate nine months (not necessarily consecutive) in which you perform what we call “services” within a rolling 60-month period. We consider your work to be “services” if you earn more than $670 a month in 2008.  For 2007, this amount was $640. After the trial work period ends, your benefits will stop for the months your earnings are at a level we consider "substantial" -- currently $940 in 2008. For 2007, this amount was $900. Different amounts apply to people who are disabled because of blindness. The monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2008 is $1,570.

For an additional 36 months after completing the trial work period, we can start your benefits again if your earnings fall below the "substantial" level and you continue to have a disabling impairment. For more information about work incentives, we recommend that you read the pamphlet, Working While Disabled-How We Can Help (SSA Publication Number 05-10095).

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) your work may affect the amount of your check. However, we do not count the first $65.00 of earnings in a month plus one-half of the remainder. This means we count less than one-half of your earnings when we figure your SSI payment amount. You may still qualify for other work incentives, such as Ticket to Work, and continue to receive Medicaid.

While participating in the Ticket to Work Program, you may be able to use a combination of other work incentives to maximize your income until you begin to earn enough to support yourself. Some of these work incentives include:

To find out specifically how your participation in the Ticket to Work Program could affect your disability benefits, you may contact a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project in your state. You can find a list of the WIPA projects by state using the Service Provider Directory.

How does work affect my Medicare and/or Medicaid?

Effective October 1, 2000, the law extended Medicare Part A (Hospital) premium-free coverage for 4.5 years beyond the current limit for disability beneficiaries who work. This means that you could work and still potentially retain your Medicare, for FREE, for up to four and a half years. Follow this link to find out more about Medicare.

If you are not on Medicare and are instead receiving Medicaid, there are provisions for you as well. For example, most States have the option of providing Medicaid coverage to more people between the ages of 16-64 with disabilities who work. To find out if this coverage is available in your State, call the State Medicaid office in your area. You can find more information on Medicaid here.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?


Medicare is an insurance program. Medical bills are paid from trust funds which those covered have paid into. It serves people over 65 primarily, whatever their income; and serves younger disabled people and dialysis patients. Patients pay part of costs through deductibles for hospital and other costs. Small monthly premiums are required for non-hospital coverage. Medicare is a federal program. It is basically the same everywhere in the United States and is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the federal government.


Medicaid is an assistance program. Medical bills are paid from federal, state and local tax funds. It serves low-income people of every age. Patients usually pay no part of costs for covered medical expenses. A small co-payment is sometimes required. Medicaid is a federal-state program. It varies from state to state. It is run by state and local governments within federal guidelines.

For more information regarding Medicare and its components, please go to

For more information on Medicaid, please go to

Who can help me better understand the Ticket to Work (TTW)?

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA)

The goal of the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program is to better enable SSA`s beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work. The WIPA program replaced the Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach program effective October 1, 2006. Each WIPA Project has Community Work Incentives Coordinators who will:

  • Provide work incentives planning and assistance directly to SSA`s beneficiaries with disabilities to assist them in their employment efforts;
  • Conduct outreach efforts in collaboration with SSA's Program Manager for Recruitment and Outreach contractor to beneficiaries with disabilities (and their families), who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs;
  • Work in cooperation with Federal, State, and private agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities;
  • Screen and refer beneficiaries with disabilities to appropriate Employment Networks based on the beneficiary's expressed needs and types of impairments;
  • Provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits coverage that may be offered by an employer of a beneficiary with a disability and the extent to which other health benefits coverage may be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or Medicaid; and
  • Provide information on the availability of protection and advocacy services for beneficiaries with disabilities and how to access such services.

Find a WIPA in your State.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies furnish a wide variety of services to help people with disabilities return to work. These services are designed to provide the client with the training or other services that are needed to return to work, to enter a new line of work or to enter the workforce for the first time.

Find a VR Agency in your State.

Employment Networks (ENs)

The Employment Network works for Social Security in the Ticket to Work program. If you are eligible for a Ticket to Work, you can contact an Employment Network for help in going to work. You can contact any Employment Network in your area to see if it is the right one for you. Both you and the Employment Network have to agree to work together to attain your employment goals. You are free to talk with as many Employment Networks as you choose, and you are not obligated to give an EN your Ticket simply because you have spoken with them. You can stop working with one Employment Network and begin working with another, or with the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. If you need help in choosing an Employment Network you may contact the Ticket to Work Operations Support Manager, MAXIMUS.

Find an EN in your State.

Protection and Advocacy Programs (P&A's)

  • Assist beneficiaries with disabilities in obtaining information and advice about receiving vocational rehabilitation and employment services.
  • Provide advocacy or other related services that beneficiaries with disabilities may need to secure or regain gainful employment.

Find a P&A in your State.

What are Work Incentive Seminar Events (WISE)?

WISE are community events held by WIPAs. These are held for beneficiaries with disabilities and their families to learn more about available work incentives through accessible, informal, learning opportunities.

Employers, Vocational Rehabilitation, Protection and Advocacy Services, Employment Networks and other employment supports are invited to these meetings to share information about available services and opportunities for beneficiaries in the community.

To see if there is an upcoming WISE in your state, please Click Here.

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Last reviewed or modified Wednesday Aug 20, 2008
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