WHAT'S THE LAW?
‘Ticket to Work’ program not required
I am currently on Social Security for my disability. I recently received a letter from the Social Security office notifying me that I am eligible for the Ticket to Work program. What is this program, and do I have to participate in it to be able to keep my benefits?
Answer: From Stacia Silva, Legal Aid managing attorney: The Ticket to Work program is operated through the Social Security Administration and is designed to help disabled or blind people who receive SSI and/or SSDI return to work. The goal of the program is to help people earn enough so that they will no longer need benefits from Social Security. The program is completely voluntary. No person is forced to participate in the Ticket to Work program, and a decision not to participate will have no effect on benefits. When a recipient's ticket arrives in the mail, it must be assigned to an Employment Network. Before doing this, a ticket recipient should find out what services each Employment Network offers. As each Employment Network might provide different services, recipients should consider their employment goals and which Employment Network has the resources to best help them. A recipient can do this by meeting with representatives from any number of Employment Networks. Once a recipient has found the right Employment Network, a plan will be developed that will include employment goals as well as the exact services that the Employment Network will provide to help meet those goals. The plan should also explain the recipient's rights under the program, including the recipient's ability to take back the ticket to work should the services be unsatisfactory. Once the plan is completed and signed, you have "assigned" the ticket. If a recipient returns to work, the recipient must report this to the Social Security Administration. Recipients might be able to receive some or all of their benefits while they test their ability to work. Various employment supports are available to both SSI and SSDI recipients.
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