The Ticket to Work program is a voluntary program that assists Social Security beneficiaries with entering, rejoining or staying in the workforce. This program allows recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the opportunity to become financially independent and obtain a job that could turn into a career. Ticket to Work participants are provided with support services to help them succeed without the fear of losing their Medicare or Medicaid benefits. The goal of the program is to provide those recipients with a path to reduce or better yet, end their reliance on Social Security benefits.
Support Services Offered
The Ticket to Work program offers services from over 110 providers in the Chicago area. Providers are classified according to the types of services they deliver and include:
- Employment Networks (EN) – private or public organizations or agencies that have a contract with the program to provide beneficiaries with employment services or vocational rehabilitation services. Beneficiaries are permitted to speak with as many ENs as they want to determine which one best fits their needs. Once an EN has been chosen, the beneficiary may choose to change to another if he or she changes their mind.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR) – a state agency that provides services to Social Security disability recipients who need significant help in becoming work ready. Once services from the VR has ended, the agency can help the recipient choose an EN that fits their abilities.
- Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) – this program provides counseling to beneficiaries about the incentives from the state or federal government that are available to them as participants in the Ticket to Work program.
- Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) – as part of the Ticket to Work program, this advocacy program helps remove barriers to employment for SSDI and SSI beneficiaries. Program participants are advised of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Incentives for Participating in Ticket to Work
The Ticket to Work program offers incentives for participants who show progress and comply with program requirements. One such benefit is protection from having to go through a medical continuing disability review. Another is not having to go through the entire application process for SSDI benefits, which may require the assistance of Social Security attorneys if their disability worsens or returns within five years of cessation of benefits.