Disability, General

Social Security Can Help You Start or Return to Work

November 4, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: October 20, 2023

young man at counter reviewing his cell phoneIf you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and want to start or return to work, we can help.

Ticket to Work (Ticket) is a program that supports career development for SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients who want to work and progress toward financial independence. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. Learn more about the Ticket to Work program or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Ticket to Work program, the Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) program also helps people with disabilities return to work. A PASS allows you to set aside resources and other income besides your SSI for a specified period. With a PASS you can pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate your need for SSI or SSDI benefits.

How does a PASS help someone return to work?

  • We base SSI eligibility and payment amounts on income and resources (items of value that the person owns).
  • PASS lets a person with a disability set aside money and items they own to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal.
  • The objective of the PASS is to help people with disabilities find employment that reduces or eliminates the need for SSI or SSDI benefits.

You can read all about the PASS program in our publication, Working While Disabled—A Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support.

The PASS must be in writing and we must approve the plan. To start, contact your local PASS Cadre or local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK). You can also access the form on our website. Ticket to Work service providers, vocational counselors, or a representative or relative can help you write a PASS.

For more information about PASS, read The Red Book – A Guide to Work Incentives and Employment Supports.

Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or the beginning step to fulfilling your dreams. Let our Ticket to Work program or PASS program help you achieve your goals. Please share this with your friends and family – and post it on social media.

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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. Alex J.

    Thanks for sharing it, these information are really awesome. You can also check out the other version of it.

  2. Christina C.

    I’ve been receiving SSDI for several years. I am trying to earn extra money to keep up with inflation. I considered starting a small business from home so on my days I can rest without losing a job. I know the guidelines are different. Where do I find that information?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Christina. Thanks for your question. If you are referring to Social Security disability benefits, special rules allow you to work temporarily without losing your monthly Social Security disability benefits. After your nine-month trial work period, we still provide a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free. During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed a certain limit. For 2022 those limits are: $2,260 for blind individuals; or $1,350 a month if you are not blind. For more information about working while receiving Social Security disability benefits, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.  We hope this helps. 

      • Christina C.

        Aren’t the SGA rules different if I start a blog or hobby to earn extra money?

  3. Madori P.

    Hi, I receive SSDI but recently returned to work full time and I make too much money to remain on disability. I have been trying to call for the past month but haven’t been able to get through. How do I turn off my disability payments, I don’t want to get a letter stating I need to return my last few months payments because of my income.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Madori. We are sorry to hear that. If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may use your personal my Social Security account to report your wages online. We hope this helps. 

  4. Karen

    I’m on ssd I work two days a week, but because of the need for workers my employer is raising their minimum $7 an hour more on the minimum wage which will make my two days of work too much income. How do I continue to work when salaries are going up prices are going up but my ssd sadly won’t allow me to go up. Help

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Karen. We are sorry to hear about your situation. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

  5. Linda L.

    So at any time I am on social security at guy retirement age, there is no limit on how much I can earn?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Linda. Thanks for your question. When you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. For more details, visit our Receiving Benefits While Working web page. We hope this helps. 

  6. Nancy

    I am 61, receive SSD and work part time. It isn’t easy getting by because my combined income does not keep up with inflation. I can barely afford my apartment of 20 years along with all my other monthly bills. Social Security payments didn’t really receive a boost this year of 5.9% because we were surprised with a giant increase in Medicare. Given the high inflation we are seeing and will continue to see, why didn’t Substantial Gainful Activity for part time employment receive a larger amount? More older people receiving social security are on the brink of becoming homeless or are already homeless because they can’t make it on what they are allowed to earn. I would try to work full time, but I know I am unable to. Life is becoming much too expensive to live.

  7. David A.

    I was on SS disability until Nov 21,2021. at that time I turned 66. I was working part time for about 6 months. i was advised by SS administration that i was switched over to SS retirement.Shortly after that I was told my that my ticket to work was cancelled. with that being said am i considered at my full retirement age? if so am i now
    allowed to earn an unlimited amount at this time?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, David. When you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. Starting the month you reach full retirement age, you will get benefits with no limit on your earnings. We hope this helps. 

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