Through the Ticket to Work program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides return-to-work support and services to individuals who are receiving benefits from one or both of their disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Prior to the signing of The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 into law, support and services for beneficiaries who wished to return to work were limited to assistance from a State Vocational Agency. When former President Bill Clinton signed the act into law, return-to-work support and service offerings were expanded to help entice SSDI and SSI beneficiaries to utilize the program. In doing so, beneficiaries can move away from their dependence on Social Security benefits and toward the financial freedom afforded by returning to the workforce.
Services offered through Ticket to Work
For many beneficiaries, return-to-work support and services can be essential to successfully reenter the workforce. Beneficiaries who have been out of work for a long time or whose injuries and/or illnesses require they enter a new field, may rely heavily on these services or would otherwise be unable to return to work. Support may also be incredibly important for individuals who are interested in returning to their previous position but can no longer complete their job duties without accommodations.
When choosing to participate in the services offered through Ticket to Work, beneficiaries have the option of working with an Employment Network (EN) or an Administrative Employment Network (AN), who will provide services from beginning to end. Whichever option they should choose, beneficiaries will have access to a variety of services including:
- Accommodations assistance
- Benefits counseling
- Career planning
- Resume assistance
- Vocational rehabilitation
Continuation of Social Security benefits
Returning to work after an absence can be challenging in many ways, and, for beneficiaries, the fear of losing the SSDI benefits they depend on can be enough to keep them from exploring work opportunities. However, while actively participating in one or more of the services offered by the Ticket to Work program, beneficiaries have the safeguard that their benefits will continue. SSDI cash benefits will continue while they are enrolled in the pre-employment part of the program, and when the beneficiary is able to return to work, their benefits will continue for at least an additional nine months. This provides beneficiaries with the stability of knowing they have at least one source of income while they attempt to return to the workforce. SSI beneficiaries may also continue receiving benefits, but to what degree relies heavily on the income and total assets of the beneficiary. While a beneficiary participates in the Ticket to Work program, Social Security will also suspend any medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). This is one less step that a beneficiary may have to take while they are attempting to reenter the workforce.
Impact on disability claims
Ticket to Work services not only provide a path for individuals to reenter the workforce, they can also help improve the financial position of beneficiaries, the Social Security trust funds, and any associated insurance carrier. In addition to reducing the number of beneficiaries relying on SSDI or SSI benefits, successfully returning beneficiaries to the workforce provides additional income to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust funds, helping to replenish some of the funds lost when paying out benefits. Similarly, a return to work outcome may represent a private insurance claim closure, rather than solely an SSDI benefit offset.
Returning to the workforce after an absence can be a very important part of an individual’s journey. At Brown & Brown Absence Services Group we’ve witnessed firsthand the many intrinsic benefits that returning to work offers individuals, including improvements in quality of life and financial independence. If you or someone you know is looking for Ticket to Work services, we would be happy to help. As an affiliate member of American Dream Employment Network (ADEN), Brown & Brown can provide services before, during, and after a return to work journey.