Disability, General

Social Security Can Help You Start or Return to Work

November 4, 2021 • By

Last Updated: November 4, 2021

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.

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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Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

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  1. Jackoe

    Why is SSA pushing the issue of people going back to work. I have worked 45 years + I receive SSDI paid my FICA taxes and can”t enjoy my entitlements that I bought and paid for. Why work I tried that Self Employed and COVID ruined that and left us helpless and Tennessee did not help anyone. I never got my unemployment that President Trump allowed self employed to get Emergency, Emergency Pandeminic Assistance PUA to be eligible you have to show proof which I 2019 & 2020 tax return with schedule C and I still didn”t get whst I was entitled to the State stole my money, from 3/29/20 until 9/5/21 is what I was approved for and I want it, instead Dept of Labor is telling us to go to SSA and file disability. They are liars, thiefs and hypocrites. This is my money I worked hard for. Nobody has the right to keep our money and not protect us from States that are abusing us, neglecting us and its in humane to throw thousands of people in the street without anywhere to go because State & Corporations work together and abuse the system. Then you want us to go back to work, so they can steal more or get a higher paycheck. No no no forget it. I am not paying a trillion dollar debt when i did get a dime. But aggravation. Until I get my money. Then i will think about it if my body will hold up.

    Reply
  2. Allan C.

    I recently asked a CSR at the Social Security Administration if it is possible to switch from SSDI, which I am currently receiving, to regular Social Security ([Early] Retirement). I am 62 years old, and I understand that it is possible to start receiving the ‘Early Retirement’ benefit at this age.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Allan, thanks for using our blog. Monthly benefits are reduced if you start them any time before your “full retirement age”. Your full retirement age depends on your date of birth. It may be between age 66 and 67. This could affect the amount of your benefits and when you want the benefits to start.

      For additional questions or to apply for reduced retirement benefits, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Lesley Y.

    What is the income cap to keep receiving SSI benefits while working

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Lesley, thanks for reaching out. We have special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities who  receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments and Medicare or Medicaid. Social Security calls these rules “work incentives.” Some work incentives allow us to exclude some income and resources. For SSI recipients, for example, we do not count the first $65 of the earnings you receive in a month, plus one-half of your remaining earnings. This means that we count less than one-half of your earnings when we figure your SSI payment amount. Click here to see examples of the “Earned Income Exclusion”. Learn more about our other work incentives in our Red Book.

      If you receive SSI, you must tell us right away when you start working, and you must report your earnings each month. This will help us avoid overpayments and underpayments. For instructions on the various ways to report your work, see Reporting Wages When You Receive Supplemental Security Income. If you need to contact your local Social Security office, you’ll find the phone number using our Office Locator. We hope this information helps.

      Reply
      • John J.

        The earned income exclusions apply to anyone on SSI and has nothing to do with a PASS. Very few people on SSI have the ability to set aside income as they barely have enough to get by.

        Reply
      • johnsongina1964@yahooo.com

        I want apply for SSI benefits

        Reply
        • Ann C.

          Hi. For more information about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and how to apply, please visit our SSI webpage. We hope this helps.   

          Reply
  4. Anthony J.

    In re: Anthony J. v. Antony J. http://www.title24uscode.org/netspend.pdf

    Dear Board of Trustees:

    You are fined up to $200 million for the cancellation of your +/- 14 percent overestimate of the 2020 payroll as a Crimes by or affecting persons engaged in the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce 18USC§1033 requiring the redress of Counterfeit currency by the Federal Reserve 31USC§5153.

    I regret to inform you, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a failed institution of bankruptcy court. Not only was their email that Metabank is a failed bank altered, when I demanded a restatement regarding the solvency of Netspend, half a months record on my new email address were hacked off, and they have subsequently not responded. I had to refer the FDIC bailout of Netspend to the Federal Reserve to protect the Stock Exchange and the FDIC made no effort to return to me my life savings. Nor for that matter of where Metabank comes from, regarding removing the Attorney General Jason Ravensborg of South Dakota, from office for vehicular manslaughter of a person wrongfully prohibited from hitchhiking throughout the state or camping in jurisdictions of FBI supported camping gear theft, no marijuana was sold on July 1, 2021. This is the second time the FDIC has corruptly failed me. The first time in revenge for the fake overdraft driving me to Netspend in 2004, they impeached all the corrupt state executives from my former corrupt county, in Hamilton County, Ohio, the State from whence Sherrod Brown (D), Chairman of the Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs hails, the County held in the much kissed iron fist of Prosecutor Joe Deters (R), of 50 percent of state death row inmates with only 4 percent of the state population infamy and bizarre fame of having meteorically been elected state treasurer from his squalid fortress with declining population due to homicide and migration therefrom.

    Point being, the FDIC is a dishonest money launderer of the sort they are wrongfully trying entice into a civil trial in the US District Court, rather than bringing banks to bankruptcy court, the fine, for dishonestly not compensating the depositor, is twice the $250,000 insurance settlement, the maximum $500,000 under 12CFR§303.220. Congress must afford a major overhaul of FDIC statute to refer them to bankruptcy court, to warrant any negotiations with law enforcement, and begin to deal squarely with the alteration of records indicative of embezzlement and corruption of banks in bankruptcy court with law and records that are not altered or fudged, beginning with bankruptcy court ordered editing or formal amendment to jumpstart FDIC bankruptcy law overhaul, by changing the reference in 11USC§109(b)(2) and §781 from nonexistent Sec. 409 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act of 1991 to Sec. 404 of said 1991 Act under 12USC§4404. To encourage the Public Trustee embezzling Board of Trustees to return my stolen life savings, Queen Maxima, of the land of my birth in the Netherlands, and Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), is informed of this extra-judicial bankruptcy proceeding for possible service of process abroad, reason to renounce my US citizenship and get Dutch documents, and possible side-job for her as one of two vacant Public Trustee positions, pursuant to the Service of Process Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (1965).

    Reply
    • Hospitals &.

      $70.7 billion SSI FY 22 of good news for the Acting Commissioner struggling with the 2021 Annual Report of the SSI Program and otherwise unsolicited Executive Office of the President FY 22 budgets at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/appendix/

      On page 1234 the Commissioner should find that $59. 8 billion FY 22 – $40.2 billion plus $19.6 billion from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021 – do not equal the promised $70.7 billion and the SSI program. Nor does $46.2 billion, plus $15.6 billion add-up FY 23. In these circumstances of air-head force type +/- $10 billion accounting errors, not made for the first time in recent history by the FY 22 DoD and Air Force budgets, it is necessary to find for the higher figure to ensure adequate balance is available to provide for annual expenses pursuant to the Ant-Deficiency Act under 31USC1502 and the apparently habitually tardy execution of the 42 month limit on persecutions $60 – $70 billion (Revelation 13:10)

      Reply
      • Hospitals &.

        Social Security Online must be sued to redress the application altering the names entered into Social Security Matters blog and denial of service attack on certain social security numbers under 18USC§656.

        Reply
        • Jim P.

          I think this is an example of what “not quite ready for public interaction in the general workforce” or quite possibly “has been a recluse for too long, it’s like Nell or something” looks like

          Reply
  5. Renee G.

    I been sick all my life. I never thought of applying for disability. So I did off and on since 2012. And still have not got it. Been denied somewhere around 5 or 6 times. Currently waiting in a decision now (7 I lost count). I decided to apply in 2012 because that’s when the blood clots in my lungs started. Then as time went on one large one (blood clot) was found in my heart. Making the right side of my heart abnormal. Time went on (to sum things up) other health issues such as pulmonary hypertension (shortness of breath) mental health problems(some as which I been dealing with since a kid). Haven’t work enough to have enough credits for retirement. And reading this comments makes me feel like those of us that are sick really live in a world that we can’t win for losing.

    Reply
    • Christina A.

      Russ Swannigan was my attorney out of Jefferson city maybe he can help you

      Reply
    • Jason A.

      Never wait more than 2 years between fillings.

      If you do ever get it they will have to go back to the first application.

      Reply
      • John O.

        No, not if you don’t file withing the appeals period.

        Reply
  6. Bob

    To the Social Security comments monitor. Can you please block “Rebekah R.”. Her pages of comments have nothing to do with the subject matter. This person does this on every article Social Security post here.

    Reply
  7. James G.

    I live in subsidized housing, and am on SSDI. If I work, subsidized housing takes 30% on top of my rent paid for by my SSDI. If I use the “Ticket to work” program, will this override my 30% additional payment, or will I be required to to pay the 30% out of my “Ticket to work” income?

    Reply
    • Nodo

      As far as I know, the rule is always that you pay 30% of your Total Adjusted Gross Monthly Income. There is no difference between the “disability” income you get from SSDI and the “earned” income you may earn when you work (regardless of whether you use “Ticket to Work” to help you get work).

      As someone with a housing subsidy and on SSDI myself, I have concerns about a) the 20% of my Gross Earned Income I may lose in federal income tax and FICA (SS), b) the additional 30% of my Gross Earned Income that will go for rent, and c) the reduction or complete loss of Food Stamps, Medicaid (which currently pays my Medicare premium), and other benefits, like LIHEAP.

      On the plus side, a) you get to feel useful and have a job, b) you will pocket *some* extra money, and c) you may be filling in some zero or low years in your “Earning History”. I worked for the 2010 Census while waiting for my SSDI. The $2300 or so I earned replaced one of my “zero” years and at the end of the year (my SSDI had already been granted by then), my SSDI benefit got bumped by $30/mo. That’s $30/mo…forever.

      Tip: There is an income exclusion clause in the HUD rules for subsidized housing. Any income that is “Temporary, nonrecurring, or sporadic income (including gifts)” should not be included in your rent calculation. So…working short temp jobs sporadically, theoretically….

      Also, there are some different rules if you are self-employed, if your Housing Authority is making some of it’s own rules under the HUD “Moving to Work” program (designed to encourage public housing residents to go to work), “income earned while in a qualifying employment training program”, etc.

      AND there’s this: “Earned Income Disregard (EID). Current regulations provide for an earned income disregard (EID) that permits certain tenants of public housing and persons with disabilities participating in the voucher program to accept a job without having their rent increased immediately due to their increased income. The EID is available for a total of 24 months, but those months may be spread across 48 months to account for intermittent job losses. PHAs are required to fully exclude income for the first 12 months of an EID, and to exclude at least 50% for the last 12 months.” So it looks like you would have some relief for a while if you qualify. Check with your Public Housing Authority.

      Reply
      • Amanda M.

        This Is EXACTLY what should happen. However, Public Housing does not have the EID. Section 8 DOES. And that is if you have a voucher or live in a Section 8 Housing complex. Tax credits have a similar program.
        The reason for the end disregard is in theory, is so that you will be moving and be completely independent of any form of assistance. Just FYI. I did this Housing for 21 years before becoming disabled. I do admit, VERY few families make it to financial independence. In my experience.

        Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi James, thanks for using our blog. For information related to public housing assistance, please contact them directly. You can visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website for additional information. 

      Reply
  8. Lynn

    I worked 3 months, reporting the job the day before I startrd–which they now claim to have no record of– then was hospitalized 5 months for my trouble. Over a year later, 5 days ago, I get a letter saying SS is stopping my benefits and that I owe over $11,000 because I used up my credits in 2008, ignoring that I had not been able to work for 13 years, and that when I tried hospitalization for 5 months and permanent foot paralysis and partial leg paralysis and excruciating neurological pain down both legs due to a grade 4 sacral pressure wound gotten in the hospital has added to my original problems. Trying to work has only led to financial destitution. Even creditors forgive debts after 7 years. There is no reset with this program, no incentive to try again. Only punishments and financial ruin. Don’t make my mistake. If you know you can’t work long term, don’t try they will cut off your benefits and you might even die. Peace.

    Reply
    • Nodo

      The Trial Work Period is 9 months total in a rolling 60 month (5 yr) period. If you only ever worked a total of 3 months, I don’t see how they could throw you off Disability. APPEAL! Find your local nonprofit/free legal help, but appeal ASAP. Good luck!

      Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Lynn, thanks for using our blog. We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing with Social Security. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information.  Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      Reply
    • SYLVIA N.

      This happened to me, went back to work due to my ss was not enough to cover my bills. They drooped my ss and say I owe 17?,000 which is a joke. In Jan I faught to get back on and like everything else they drag there feet. I finally am back on but with no insurance until July 2022 after they told me I would be covered while it was being reviewed. Now they can not even get the payments right.

      Reply
  9. Michael V.

    I know there is an earnings limit when beginning SS benefits before FRA, but I don’t know how/when/where to report my earnings. Please advise.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Michael, thanks for using our blog. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age in 2022, the earnings limit is $51,960 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2022, that limit is $19,560.

      If you need to report earnings or anticipate earning over the limit, you should call and speak to a representative. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information.

      Visit our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

       

      Reply
      • Amanda M.

        Is that $19,560 in earned income, or benefits, or a combination of both?

        Reply
        • Vonda

          Thank you for the question, Amanda. When we figure out how much to deduct from your benefits, we count only the wages you make from your job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. We include bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay. We don’t count pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, veterans, or other government or military retirement benefits.

          After you retire, you may receive payments for work you did before you started getting Social Security benefits. Usually, those payments will not affect your Social Security benefit if they are for work done before you retired. Check out our factsheet Special Payments After Retirement for more details. We hope this is helpful.

          Reply
  10. Kenneth E.

    I am interested in this ticket of work program

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Kenneth, thanks for using our blog. To learn more about the Ticket to Work program, you can visit The Work Site online 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. We hope this is helpful. 

      Reply
      • Renee w.

        I received a disability in 1999 from us air force civil service. I never knew y could file with ss. Is it too late?

        Reply
        • Vonda

          Hi Renee, thank you so much for your service. Both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administer programs that pay disability benefits to eligible individuals. The differences between the programs these agencies administer can be confusing. Social Security pays disability benefits to people if they have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application.

          You may apply for Social Security disability benefits at any time while in military status or after discharge, whether you are still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program or undergoing out-patient treatment in a military or civilian medical facility. The fastest, easiest way to apply for Social Security disability is online.  If you are unable to file online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. We hope this information helps.

          Reply
    • Chuck L.

      I really need a job

      Reply

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