Ticket to Work Works

March 3, 2016 • By

Last Updated: March 3, 2016

Man in wheelchair after acident at work. Worker suffering from an illness.If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability benefits and you think you are ready to work, our Ticket to Work program can help. Ticket to Work is our free and voluntary program that helps you get vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support services.

This program is for individuals ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time. While many disabled individuals are unable to work, we know that some of you want to try. Work incentives make it easier to work and still receive health care and cash benefits from Social Security while providing protections if you have to stop working due to your disability.

Social Security works with employment networks to offer beneficiaries access to meaningful employment. Employment networks are organizations and agencies, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies, that provide various employment support services. Some services they may help you with include résumé writing, interviewing skills, and job leads.

Ticket to Work gives you the opportunity to choose from several employment networks. You’re free to talk with as many employment networks as you want before choosing one. If you sign an agreement with an employment network, they’ll help you develop an employment plan. We’ll review your progress for achieving the goals of your employment plan every 12 months. If you’re making timely progress in your return to work plan, we will not conduct a medical review of your disability during the time you’re in the program.

Many people have successfully completed the Ticket to Work program, and are now enjoying fulfilling careers and earning more income for their families. If this sounds like your goal for the future, you may want to explore this program to see if it’s right for you.

If you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, please call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). You can also get more information on the program online at www.socialsecurity.gov/work or www.choosework.net.


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About the Author

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Carla

    Great read!!

  2. Kim C.

    I would like to say this works, however in Roanoke, VA about 7 years ago I entered this program – they gave me a series of tests and never contacted me again, I would call and receive no calls back. If this program is supposed to be helpful someone needs to train the employees in Roanoke, Va. So thoroughly disgusted.

    • DHFabian

      Interesting thing about “training.” I got caught in one of these jobs, and when I asked what training options were available, they explained that this “training” simply meant “teaching people to report to work on time every day.”

  3. Jeffrey H.

    I am on SSDI and I would like to get a pt. time.
    I am interested in the Ticket to Work.

    • John O.

      Then contact your local SS Office.

    • John O.

      Call the numbers listed in the article.

    • Ray F.

      If you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, please call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). You can also get more information on the program online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/work or http://www.choosework.net.

  4. Cassandra

    I am on social security/disability due to disability since 2012 because of my age income is not enough to live on lost my home and am living in horrible motels looking to go back to work to be able to affords place if my own it’s a horrible feeling to lose your home and live from one horrible place to the next for a year now. I would rather suffer in pain and work every day than live like this it’s horrible I hope and pray I can find something soon losing all hope

    • Trice

      O wow I thought I was the only one ..I’m currently working on a ticket to work program .before I didn’t have enough to live off of..Goodwill industry is a part of the ticket to work program and a great place to work give them a call if u guys have one in your area.. God bless and it will get better…

  5. cherie

    The won’t take any one old such as 78 ys. Said Only young people 16 and up.

  6. Sidney B.

    My company, in conjunction with many Community Colleges and Universities, trains workers in the healthcare field for entry level jobs. Courses are mostly online and yield a national certificate for satisfactory completion. We do offer some courses on campus as well. How do we get on your list?

    • John O.

      What list?

    • Polly

      Sidney Gilman, I am a Cpht but having a hard time getting work because my disability does not allow me to stand for long hours. Most pharmacies will not hire for someone for only 3-4 a day. Also because I do not have a car I can not travel which makes it even harder to find a job. All the good jobs are too far from my house.

  7. Manuel S.


    • John O.

      No, not if your over 64.

    • Elaine B.

      No, if over 64 yrs. People 65 and over cannot do Ticket to Work. People 66 and older can work full time and earn as much as they can without it affecting their SSR however they will have to pay income tax on their SSR if they make over a designated amount for the year. I am 72 yrs. old and working full time. In 2014 I paid $3,000.00 on top of almost $15,000.00 income tax from payroll deduction. Even after having an extra $200.00 monthly taken from my paycheck to offset. If I did not love my job, I would go to part-time to save on income tax that I owe the IRS.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Mr. Sanchez. The Ticket to Work program is for individuals ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time.

  8. My n.

    I am available for work as an engineer either full time or part time to supplement my soc. security income.

    • ThinkAboutIt

      We got that from your last post. Don’t duplicate topics.

  9. My n.

    I am in my mid-70s and in good health. Retired as an engineer in design and analysis of building structures. I am interested in finding a suitable job as an engineer either part time or full time to supplement my social security income.

    • John O.

      This is not a board to place ads on. Seek employment in a conventional way, resumes, employment agencies, etc.

      • ThinkAboutIt

        He’s talking about his life experience not advertising in the conventional way!!! Give him a break!

  10. Katherine G.

    I do need more income as my disability is not enough to live on. I have no other supportive income. I can not even afford to live on my own and am living with my son and his family. This is really uncomfortable. I even lost my own home due to lack of income. I need the help and more income.

    • Kathy M.

      I am currently on SS disability. Like everyone else, not enough income to live one. Need to supplement. Was a corporate paralegal before my illness. Just looking for part time, preferably not in a stressful work environment like a law firm, as they require billing for time.

    • Mary S.

      I am going through the same thing Katherine. I’m so afraid to try and work again but I have to do something just to stay out of public housing. Good luck to us right?

      • John O.

        All of you should call SSA and ask about the ticket to work program.

        • Tom H.

          My only income is SSD and with the Medicare increase I went from $1,120 to $836 and now living in my car.

          • Kathy

            I know how you feel I lived in a condemned mobile home for 4 months. It was the low point of my life. All I want to do is die everyday I just want to die. I’m done have no family I lost a fourteen year relationship when I got lung cancer. I ask God everyday please just let me die in my sleep. Tom I hope you make out better than me. All my love to you you are not alone.

    • Ray F.

      If you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, please call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). You can also get more information on the program online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/work or http://www.choosework.net.

      • Steven K.

        I worked for two years on the ticket to work program before becoming ill again in Sept 2015. I have been trying to have an EXR done with no success. Losing everything. Social security is more interested in helping illegal aliens and Syrian refugees rather than native born paid into system Americans. Customer service is the worst. As I near major surgery, my family has no income, eviction notice and shutoff notices on all bills. SO I DEFINITELY ADVISE AGAINST THIS PROGRAM AS IT IS A WAY TO NEVER PAY YOU AGAIN. Give it all away to the non citizens. Deceitful

        • Ben R.

          I agree. I went three years with the program. Went thru BVR. They were horrible with my having changed counselors numerous times and with a few times having BVR not even tell me the counselors were gone. Also, BVR put me at the highest level of disability twice then a counselor, on his own, decided to reduce my disability to a lower degree of necessity for help when I came back firvhelp after a major surgery. He did not have the rights to do so as the disability review board only has that right but he did it anyways. Also a huge waste of money was allowed for my so called, help, job shadowing and training. What a joke. I ran multi million dollar companies, owned a few of my own prior to be ing disabled and they at BVR and their third party associates treated me like I had an IQ of 0 or negative. They at BVR did not even know that my IQ even after being disabled was at the genius level. The one counselor I had even came up with the novel idea while executing her so called plan of action to getting me employment of sending me to a community college for a single class and if I got above a D grade then BVR would help with the costs of schooling. In other words, I pay first then if I pssse with a pathic grade in a single coysre which wax at the lowest level of intake for a student, then they would help pay for some of the school things I needed it the classes next after the first. To get to the stage of entering into an associate degree meant taking 4 more remidial classes. Weird for me to even consider doing that because I already gave this counselor my transcripts showing straight A’s in multiple colleges with having three Bachelor’s degrees, a master’s in Math, a certificate of 4 years study in judsic studies and nine professionals licenses and a real estate license and a Tax preparation license as well as my bookkeeping, payroll and accounting certifications. Also strange is how she didn’t even look at my selling awards from multiple companies , my papers submitted and printed in business trade journals or in scholarly journals or the fact that I was still running three seperate e-commerce websites for my family business and that I said screw her idea and instead I went into a nine month bioscience program at college that crammed 4 years of materials into those mine months and I passed with a 4.0 and without using any help from the campus disability services. Why, becxausevthe paperwork sent by that department of the college back to BVR was never worked on. Anyways the stories get much worse then that but the biggest waste of monies went to doing a benefit query analyzes to find out how much money a year I had to make back in 2013 to break even with how much the government was giving to me in 2 government checks. I did the math in less then 10 minutes to come up with $ 19,000.00 or so a year vs. The $ 738.00/month timed 12 months a year I made off the 2 government checks. Only after fighting with 7 counselors in over 2 years about this matter then winding up talking a veteran counselor at BVR for over 25 years of this fact – another half year went by until my brother who is a CPA called her and in less than 10 minutes did the math over the phone to set her straight. The bottom line was I had to have a full time job of $65,000.00 a year to live independently and be off of the government’ s payroll. However I would never be able to get or afford health insurance . I had to make that much a year as I had to have many thousands of dollars above what the government have me on disability due to taxes and paying all costs of normal living. So, just from a few of these instances I can say that the ticket to work program is terrible as is trying to use the website, the booklets or the redbook as well as any social security expert to understand the ticket to work and how it affects your $$$ and benefits. Plus, the moment you begin making monies, even when in a trial work period, good stamps go bye bye and you have no help with paying the premiums for your health insurance, Medicaid. Also, good luck on getting reimbursement on supplies spent on work related items or of getinng monies for transportation to go to work. I am still out over $ 12 000 that no government agency has paid me back when all paperwork has been submitted in full and the agencies knowcand agree that I have a full right to my money back. They have even ignored 3 of my lawyer s by responding they are understaffed or that they misplaced lost or cannot find my paperwork submiited. Seriously a very very useless, bad, time consuming and lousey service. A complete waste of time, energy, effort and monies when getting involved.

        • Debbie

          Steven, I have just failed in the Ticket to Work program. I was unable to perform important functions of my job. I have applied for EXR but am stuck in a limbo land with no SSDI check and no Part B Medicare. The program says, “Nothing to Lose” but there is. If I had to do it all again, I would not have tried going back to work. I also had a hefty income tax debt I was unprepared for. The SSDI checks I received initially were added to my income from work and I owed taxes. I don’t mind, I just was unprepared and not informed.

          • Debbie

            What does the term,
            “expedited reinstatement” mean? I cannot find the answer in any website or red book. Will my first payment be in 30, 60, 90 days? Can anyone say?

          • Ray F.

            Thank you for your question Debbie. The Expedited Reinstatement provision allows an individual to receive up to 6 months of provisional (temporary) cash benefits while SSA conducts a medical review to determine whether the individual can be reinstated to benefits.

    • ThinkAboutIt

      SS pays about the same as what they called “gainful employment”. So faaaaar from the truth!! Really!? The amount paid translates to “lossful spinning your wheels.” and “a plate full of hopelessness” while being evicted form a dwelling. SS is a ponsi scheme that congress robs when it wants to, even though fed govt isn’t supposed to take from it.

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