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SSDI Ticket to Work Program Aims for Recipient Financial Independence

For some people, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will be the only hope of financial survival until they reach 65 and begin receiving their Social Security retirement benefits. businessmanwithnotebook3.jpg

But our Boston SSDI lawyers know that especially for those who are younger when they began receiving the benefits and whose condition isn’t necessarily permanent, there is a desire to someday return to work when possible. The fear that they may be unable to do so could fuel trepidation to reach out for help in the first place, even as their ability to work rapidly diminishes.

There is widespread recognition that going back to work after a period of disability isn’t all that simple.

But there is good news that should ease applicants’ minds. It’s called the Ticket to Work program. It’s voluntary and free and available to anyone between the ages of 18 and 24 who receives SSDI or SSI benefits.

The goals of the program are as follows:

  • Offer SSDI beneficiaries with disabilities more choices when seeking help in re-entering or maintaining employment;
  • Gradually helping to increase self-sufficiency and financial independence for those with disabilities;
  • Whenever possible, reducing the individual’s reliance on disability benefits.

As of the end of May, there were approximately 321,000 people throughout the country enrolled in the Ticket to Work program.

It is true that if you continue to work while awaiting approval for disability benefits, you could have a difficult time securing benefits. That’s because the whole point of the program is to extend benefits to those who can’t work or won’t be able to work for at least a year. We understand the financial burdens associated with waiting months without any income, but it’s critical for applicants to discuss their employment status with a qualified SSDI attorney before they even apply to determine whether your job could sabotage your chances of successfully obtaining benefits.

On the other hand, you won’t automatically lose your benefits if you begin working after they’ve been granted. But again, you may want to at least review your plans with your SSDI attorney before you embark on the Ticket to Work program or any quest for employment. Going back to work from a disability is tough. Some people who try are going to find that they are still not well enough to return. What the Ticket to Work program allows is for SSDI recipients to test their ability to work for up to nine months without losing their benefits, regardless of how much you earn.

After that nine months, you can also seek a special status for 36 months, during which time you can continue to receive benefits for any month for which your earnings don’t top $1,040. If you earn more than that, your benefits can be suspended for that month (unless you are blind, in which case your benefit ceiling is $1,740).

You are also promised during this time that you will be able to retain your Medicaid or Medicare coverage. Additionally, the SSA won’t trouble you with a Continuing Disability Review, which could result in the potential revocation of benefits.

If you are mulling a decision to go back to work after you have already secured your SSDI benefits, talk first with an experienced SSDI lawyer who can be your advocate as you navigate the process.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Social Security Ticket to Work Program Helps People Get Off Disability, June 13, 2013, By Stan Hinden, AARP
More Blog Entries:
Boston Disability Lawyers Analyze the Social Security 2013 Trustees Report, June 5, 2013, Boston Social Security Lawyer Blog