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The Ticket to Work Program

ticket to workAs an attorney who specializes in Social Security disability claims in San Diego and Temecula, I often have clients who collect disability but wish they could get back to work in the future. All persons who receive SSI or SSDI have been determined by Social Security to be unable to support themselves financially due to disability. However, sometimes medical situations change or the beneficiary hopes for a better quality of life through employment. Since the transition from living on benefits to becoming self-supporting can be particularly difficult, the Ticket to Work program was developed to help beneficiaries overcome obstacles related to finding and retaining employment.

Participation in the Ticket to Work program is completely voluntary, and the program is available to beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 64. Under the program, the beneficiary chooses to work with an Employment Network or vocational rehabilitation program which provide the support services necessary to help them find a job. These agencies are chosen from a list approved by Social Security. If the beneficiary is successfully aided in achieving employment, the agency is compensated by Social Security for their services each time the beneficiary reaches certain work milestones and outcomes.

Under the Ticket to Work program, individuals with disabilities receive the support services they need to move toward financial self-sufficiency. However, they will not lose their SSI or SSDI payments unless their income from work exceeds the net earnings limit set forth by Social Security. Another benefit of participating in the program is that Social Security will not initiate a Continuing Disability Review while the beneficiary is working toward this goal. The beneficiary will also retain his or her Medi-Cal coverage as long as they continue to be eligible for Social Security benefits. This is great news for those who need medical supports in order to function independently. In addition, if the individual completely achieves independence Medi-Cal may be extended, provided certain income limits are not exceeded. He or she may also be eligible to buy into Medi-Cal coverage at a low rate.

Those who achieve independence and whose disability payments were stopped may request Expedited Reinstatement of benefits for up to five years after cessation of payments, in the event that employment is no longer an option due to the disability. This makes the Ticket to Work program a great option for those who aspire to a higher standard of living, without risking a loss of benefits in the meantime.

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