Career Connection Series: A Closer Look at the Ticket to Work Program
Career Connection Series: A Closer Look at the Ticket to Work Program

Categories: Employment

Can you explain how the Ticket to Work program works? And what services a person with a disability would have to go through to find a job.

My Employment Options For Job Seekers with Disabilities and Other Challenges

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President of Employment Options Inc.

If you are a person with a disability that receives benefits through the Social Security Administration and wants to work, you are in luck. Not only are free job placement services available to you through the Ticket to Work program, but employers are eager to hire through this program to create a more diversified staff and receive tax credit incentives. Many employers are hiring for seasonal jobs right now to handle the holiday rush!

What is The Ticket to Work program? This is a voluntary program that is designed to let a person with a disability try to return to the workforce, without sacrificing their benefits. If you are between the ages of 18 and 64 and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you are automatically eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program.


For many beneficiaries, returning to work can be intimidating because they are afraid of losing their cash and medical benefits. They fear that if they get off their benefits, they will not be able to get back on them or will only be re-instated after mounds of paperwork and a long delay. The program guidelines address these understandable concerns by providing several transitional stages of the program that include a Trial Work Period, a guarantee of Continuation of Medicare Coverage, an Extended Period of Eligibility and the Expedited Reinstatement period.

The Trial Work Period is exactly that. Every person who receives SSDI benefits qualifies for a trial work period of nine months that allows you to try to work while continuing to receive full cash and medical benefits. No matter how much money you earn through a job, you will still receive full Medicare and cash benefits during the Trial Work Period, just as before.

A great benefit to the program is that Medicare coverage also continues for 8 ½ years after the trial work period, for a small premium. The second transitional period is called an Extended Period of Eligibility which helps ease you into financial independence. This means that for 36 months after the trial work period is over, you do not have to file a new Social Security application, if you become unable or unwilling to work.

It is important to note that Ticket to Work is a long-term retention based program. In the third phase, the ticket-holder enters what is called the Expedited Reinstatement period. While the person ‘technically’ needs to reapply for Social Security benefits, it is their Social Security office that will handle the paperwork.

For Supplemental Security Income recipients (SSI), the rules are a little different. SSI recipients do not benefit from a trial work period, but rather, there are work incentives in place to help with the transition back into the workforce. To learn more about how your benefits will be affected when returning to work, it is best to contact your Local Work Incentive Planning and Assistance office (WIPA). You can also attend a WISE event (many of which are now held virtually and can be attended from the comfort of your home).

Now that you understand how the program really protects beneficiaries who want to return to the workforce, let’s look at the process of actually getting back to work.

Did you know that now is one of the very best times for people receiving disability benefits to go back to work? Why? Because the Ticket to Work program provides free job placement assistance to beneficiaries and a federal tax credit for employers hiring through the program, and technology has opened the door to many more opportunities for people with disabilities to work at home.

If you are in the Ticket to Work program and ready to start working, the first thing to do is to find a provider. You can visit the Ticket to Work website, which is the clearinghouse for all Social Security Certified Employment Networks and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies. You must “assign” your Ticket to the agency or to an Employment Network (EN) in order to start receiving job placement assistance. Assigning a ticket is nothing more than registering with a provider. If for any reason you are not satisfied with an agency’s services, you can change providers.

While EN’s vary in approach, most will assess skills and abilities, prepare resumes, coach you before job interviews, guide you through the return to work transition and even help with job promotions. In some cases, EN’s have established relationships with employers who seek to hire through the program.

Ticketholders can return to work part-time initially and then work their way up to full-time. If you feel well enough, you can start full-time and earn money to help pay off bills or participate in fun activities. You can choose to work-at-home or on-site in your local community. Working at home is often particularly suitable for people with disabilities because there is no commute or dress code and all the comforts and accommodations of home. Working outside the home can also be especially rewarding to those who want a more social dimension to their job.

One additional and important benefit to participating in Ticket to Work is that it exempts Ticketholders from a Medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

If you are ready, willing and able to return to work, the Ticket to Work program is an easy way to test the “employment waters.” In addition to extra income, most people who go back to work really enjoy doing something different with their time and feel better about themselves. This special Social Security Program for disability beneficiaries is truly your lucky ticket. No risk, lots of benefits and a whole new world of opportunity and income.

Paula Reuben Vieillet is the President of Employment Options Inc., a certified Social Security Administration Employment Network. She is a frequent consultant to SSA on the Ticket to Work Program and on the Board of Directors of the National Employment Network Association. Her company, which also has a Facebook fan page, Job of the Day on Twitter and website “pre-qualify form,” assists ticket-holders in all 50 states. She also has a loyal following of employers who consistently put aside job openings for her clients, because they have been so well screened for each job description. She recently published Employment Options: The Ultimate Resource for Job Seekers with Disabilities and Other Challenges, which is a culmination of her 20 years of experience as a Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor.  Her company website is www.MyEmploymentOptions.com.

25 Responses to Career Connection Series: A Closer Look at the Ticket to Work Program

  1. DiAn says:

    Talk to social security, that would be your best answer, or go to SSA.gov and see if you can find it there. Something helpful, though. I had a friend who suffered a stroke in childhood and was considered disabled for life. She married a friend of mine, and she received the full benefit she had before she got married – but they treat each situation differently under the umbrella of the law. You have to find out what the law is and go from there. Also, on a side note, since you would be able to answer some questions no one else seems to be able to, if you would be interested in answering some questions about living with CP, please email me. My son has CP, and I wonder what it will be like when he’s a little older. I don’t know anyone else in the same situation. Thanks in advance.

  2. If anyone here is currently on SSDI and/or SSI non retirement benefits, you are more than welcome to contact me directly to get a better understanding of the free services that Ticket to Work can offer you. Ticket to Work program is a voluntary and free program, but it’s benefits are amazing! and I know because I am also a participant myself!

    It is a wonderful program and it is meant to help you overcome employment barriers, help you regain independence and protect you. While you are in the Ticket to Work program and meeting goals, you are also exempt from continuing medical reviews each year. So another benefit. I could go on and on about the benefits, but I dont want to type too much!

    Please reach out to me anytime. I didn’t realize people had written so many questions here or I would have responded sooner! My apologies. But I will watch better from now on.

    I am here to help answer any questions, address concerns or fears.

    here are some helpful websites:

    You can check read more about Ticket to Work on our website:
    http://myemploymentoptions.com/for-job-seekers/faq/

    You can check out most of our Work @ Home job and also some of our community jobs (not all jobs are listed: http://myemploymentoptions.com/work-at-home-jobs/

    If you are on SSDI or SSI and would like to see if we can assist you with our free services and job placement, you can first complete a pre-qualify form and then one of our staff will go over it with you within 3-4 business days and will let you know if we can assist you!
    http://myemploymentoptions.com/for-job-seekers/

    I wish you all the very best!
    Lori Adler
    Employment Options
    ladler@myemploymentoptions.com
    800-441-3114 ext 763

  3. Kassie L. says:

    I made a video about how to use the new Choose Work site from the Social Security Admin. It’s a great site which aggregates all the information needed about the Ticket to Work Program. Hope it helps anyone wanting to get into the workforce.

    Click here to view the Ticket to Work video

  4. Pamela J. F. says:

    I am a retired professor. I worked at a community college for 17 years. I remained eligible for Medi-Cal (same as Medicaid) by using Impairment Related Work Expenses. Anything that I needed, like extra attendant care, a driver, assistance in the classroom and in my office and accommodations that I paid for were deducted from my income so that I could stay eligible for caregiving services. I did not receive SSI money the whole time that I worked, but I did stay eligible to get caregiving services which allowed me to work. A very good website that will help you determine how your benefits will be impacted is http://www.disabilitybenefits101.gov.
    I recently had to retire because my disability is worsening, and I miss work very much. If you are able to work part-time or full-time, take a chance. I think you will benefit from your adventure into the work world. Good luck! I have recently started an online career coaching business to help disabled people find and keep jobs that they are able to do with their limitations. Check out my Facebook page Coaching and Conversation. – Career Coach Pamela

  5. Bigbabypt1 says:

    The concept of the Ticket to Work program is excellent. If you have the right people to help you reach your goals, implementing your abilities in reaching your goals is a whole other thing. I am working with VR and being told that going to college/school is not part of my business plan and I can’t do both – start a business and go to school. To me, this doesn’t make sense and I see this as another disabling containment or barrier when a person sets out to accomplish a goal and the counselor that they are working with is telling them that their goals aren’t possible. In order to know anything you have to educate yourself about the subject matter. Please tell me what programs are out there for disabled individuals who want to start their own business? From acertaining industry information, to grant and proposal support for funding resources.

  6. Salma says:

    I have a programme for poor women who are very disabled. I want to do something good, my very best, for those people who cannot pass the time well.

  7. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Jeanine –
    Call 1-866-968-7842, Monday – Friday from 8:00AM – 8:00PM EST, or email support@chooseworkttw.net, for more information on the Ticket to Work program and how it can help with job placement.
    You can also check out the Employer Networks (ENs) in your state by visiting https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/oesp/providers.nsf/bystate
    Your state VR should be able to help you with job placement. You can also contact your state’s OneStop Career Center for job placement assistance. Find contact information at http://www.servicelocator.org/onestopcenters.asp

  8. geswin says:

    I believe that public education is way better than just having general & special education. Special kids once they graduate should learn what public school kids should learn.
    – geswin jasper ching

  9. Jeanine says:

    I am on SSDI, I am vision impaired. My unemployment runs out in Jan. I will need to work to supplement the loss in income. I am a full time client of The State Dept. Of Rehab. They are sending me back to school (by end of December, I will have one semester down). I would like part time employment…preferably at home. Where do I go for job placement??

  10. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Mary L. – check out http://www.ada.gov/taxincent.htm for more information on tax credits for businesses that hire people with disabilities.

  11. Nancy says:

    I am on the program and it is really good. I am glad I went with Employment Options. They have been really helpful all along the way.

  12. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Bertha –
    For more information on the Ticket to Work program, call 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY/TDD) Monday – Friday from 8:00AM – 8:00PM EST, or email support@chooseworkttw.net.
    You can also check out the Employer Networks (ENs) in your state by visiting https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/oesp/providers.nsf/bystate

  13. Bertha D. says:

    I am on SSDI at this time, but would like try to return to work. I do not want to lose my benefits and health care as I still need them for spinal blocks for my back pain and my other medications. If I am able to work with my disability, I would like to do so. Being in the Ticket to Work Program would give me a chance to determine what my abilities are.
    Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter.

  14. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Juan – are you between the ages of 18 and 64 and receive SSI or SSDI? If so, you qualify for the Ticket to Work. Call 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY/TDD) Monday – Friday from 8:00AM – 8:00PM EST, or email support@chooseworkttw.net for more information.
    Michael – do you qualify for SSDI? The Ticket to Work program is for both SSDI and SSI recepients. To find out more about qualifying for SSDI, visit http://www.ssa.gov/disability/step4and5.htm. You can apply online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/. Also, whether you receive Social Security disability benefits or not, you can receive services from your local One-Stop Career Center. Find contact information by visiting http://www.servicelocator.org/onestopcenters.asp

  15. Kassie says:

    I’m not sure if a moderator answers questions on here, so I’ll help with any information I know. As far as I know, the Ticket to Work Program is for permanently disabled people. So if you are not presently on SSD/SSI, you may need a doctor to determine if you are totally or permanently disabled before knowing if you’re eligible for this program.
    The experience of Living with a Disability can be very challenging with medical costs. Contact the Dept. of Family & Children Services in your county to see about applying for “medically needed Mediciad” when you are working.

  16. Kassie says:

    I am in the Ticket to Work Program presently. My case manager at Voc Rehab did tell me there was a way you can apply to keep your Medicaid benefits if you prove you financially need the benefits. Living with a Disability can be very challenging when considering financial costs. You can look up “financially needed Medicaid,” which is a program you can apply for if you have a job and your medical expenses exceed a certain portion of your income.
    Kassie L.

    • Hemoody says:

      I had to try something else and wasn’t disabled. After trying the job for 2.5 years, I had the same issue all over again. I finally lawyered up and proved my disability, but now find out I can end up waiting for another 1-3 months for the first payment and lord knows how long before they finally get me caught up. In the mean time, the wolf is at my door and I’m running low on ammo. There has to be a way to help those like us. I promise you that if my disability was mental, I would have been provided my benifits without a fight and also no delay. Because my issue is physical, I guess they figure that if they hold the money long enough, maybe I will pass a way and they can save the money. No telling what they think.

  17. Mary L. says:

    What is the value of the federal tax credit?

    • Hi Mary,

      I work for MyEmploymentOptions. We are the source that wrote about this article. Paula Vieillet is my boss and our company president.

      The federal tax credit is a wonderful way for companies nationwide to diversify their workforce. The tax credit I believe you are referring to is most likely the WOTC tax credit or the Work Opportunity Tax credit. It was created as a way to help certain targeted groups get better access to employment opportunities. These targeted groups often have more challenging barriers to employment than other job seekers and can often remain unemployed.

      Our website goes over the WOTC tax credit in detail and how hiring our Ticket to Work clients can help companies diversify their workforce and also they earn up to a $2,400 tax credit — per employee– that they hire from us.

      Our clients are SSDI and/or SSI recipients participating in the Ticket to Work program. Ticket to work participants are just one of several target groups of the WOTC incentive. Companies can reduce their tax liabilities by hiring someone from one of the targeted groups.

      Our company is an certified employment network so in addition to helping companies get and under the WOTC tax credit, we also pre-screen and interview clients for companies, for free, which saves them time and money and links them faster to quality ready to work clients. You can visit our website for more information about the tax credit @ http://myemploymentoptions.com/for-employers/

      You can email or call me anytime if you have more questions or would like to learn more about how the Ticket to Work program works with the WOTC tax credit. It is a wonderful incentive for companies and it benefits job seekers, employers and the economy as whole. Hope that helps!

      Lori Adler
      Public Relations Specialist
      Employment Options
      ladler@myemploymentoptions.com
      800-441-3114 ext 763
      http://www.myemploymentoptions.com

  18. Michael says:

    What if you are not on SSI, recently disabled due to a work injury and unable to perform the normal functions of a particular job that you have been doing for over 30 years? What is available for those types of individuals?

    • Hi Michael,

      I wanted to provide you with some resources. You stated that you are not receiving SSDI or SSI benefits so our Ticket to Work services would not be able to assist you. However, we did put together a nice list of job resources and I wanted to share that with you or others. You can often find help through your local state dept. of vocational rehabiliation office. They can work with you and help you in a lot of ways. How to contact them in your area is within this job resource list.

      To get the resource list, email help@myemploymentoptions.com and an automatic email will be sent back to you including agencies, websites, forums, orgnaizations and much more to help give you more things to check out to help you with your situation.

      I hope this is helpful!

      If you ever do go on SSI or SSDI, please contact me and we can see if Employment Options can assist you in some way.

      Best wishes
      LORI ADLER

  19. Robin H. says:

    I did not see this information before working. I hope I do not lose any benefits because I took a computer offered job. Please tell me how to get into the right employers so I do not lose benefits!

    • Hi Robin,

      If you found work on your own and are not using an Employment network like us or Voc rehab to help you through the process, I would make sure to keep good records of your earnings and let your local Social Security office know that you are working and when you started working. When you work with an Employment Network or an agency within Ticket to Work, it just helps protect you along the way and it also helps to protect your health insurance for a long time as well. EN’s like us are certified and given permission by SSA to help SSDI or SSI clients understand how working will affect their benefits, understand how to you report earnings, understand how much you can earn, etc., etc. I don’t know how much you have worked since going on Social Security cash benefits, but you can go to our website and complete an online application and we still might be able to assist you depending on where you are at with you earnings and how much you want to work. Our application area is here: http://myemploymentoptions.com/for-job-seekers/

      If you have any more questions, you can also email me directly or in private at ladler@myemploymentoptions.com. I work for Employment Options, but I am also disabled and on SSDI and working because of Ticket to Work!

      Hope that helps!
      Lori Adler
      Employment Options, Inc.
      http://www.myemploymentoptions.com

  20. MJ says:

    I would like to work but it would stop my Medicaid, which I need just as much as my Medicare. I have severe back pain and I need to get nerve blocks usually once a year.

  21. Juan N. says:

    I want to work!!!