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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Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications



    Oh yah they claim they know nothing of this site. Lol


    Ok called the number above. Great Ladies did the best they could to answer my questions but they could not answer them. I am suppose to wait for someone from WHIPA to call me and go over all my concerns.
    Now having said that I talked to the gal about this Web site and what my concerns were about issues being posted.
    First of all Ticket to work is only for those reciving SSDI not SSDI.
    Then she talked about people not paying attion to the 9 month rule and might have used up there 9 month period.
    Ok now to wait for WHIPA


    Ok I call and contact Heather left name and number 4xs. Never did she call me back but another gal did.
    When I started asking my questions she said ” you have to talk to heather she deals with benefits. I can only tell you about the program. ”
    She then ask for my permission to pass my information on to a group in my County called WHIPA I told her she could she said they can better answer my questions.
    She informed me it would take 7 to 10 business days before they would call me.
    So now I wait for the call. I should get it no later then the 22nd of this month.
    Wondering again why is it so hard to get my questions answered? The program has been in effect since 1999.
    Is there anyone person who will can answer my questions with out a song and dance and passing me off to someone else?
    I started checking into this program little over 2 years ago and have up do to the running in circles.
    This time I refuse to give up.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Phyllis. Please don’t give up. The Ticket to Work Program Manager is MAXIMUS Federal Services, Inc. Their contact information is: Phone: 1-866-949-3687/1-866-833-2967 TTY – Website: http://www.yourtickettowork.com/. You may also write to us or send us an email message providing us with more detailed information. Thanks!


    I am going to keep fighting and turning over every rock. I am determined to get my questions answered. I have talked to 4 people now and am waiting on another phone call.


    “The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-170) was signed into law to increase the options for individuals with disabilities who wished to return to work.”
    This TTW program is 19 years in the works. Why is there still so many issues and bugs in this program?
    Put yourself not just in my shoes but many like me. We’re humans not just names and numbers.
    Many of us took great pride in being able to provide for our families. Then do to one reason or another are on disability.
    Disability rips away at our body , minds and soul. Many of use losing out to depression because everything we took great pride in is ripped away.
    We no longer can provide , nor help ourselves let alone our families.
    I wonder do any of you stop to think what it’s like to live off what we have too?
    Sure there are folks out there that seem to be ok with it but there are plenty of us out here that it tears apart.
    Why is it this program as old as it is and no clear answers?
    Do I sound frustrated ? You bet I am. How do i get clear cut answers to my questions?
    Would you put your life in the hands of this program if you were the ones on disability knowing what you do know?
    I have always measured myself worth by how well I could take care of my family and by how hard I worked.
    Then I became disabled and have fought long and hard to get myself back to where I could even try working.
    I got so excited hearing about the TTW program. Till I found this site and a couple others. Depressed me even worse knowing I could very well end up even worse then I am now.
    At lest I have seen roof over my head and from the sounds of It I wouldn’t have it if I attempted the TTW program.
    What kind of guarantee is there that it won’t happen in those first 9 months?
    Desperately seeking answers.

    • Ray F.

      The Ticket to Work program is a free and voluntary program that beneficiaries can help Social Security beneficiaries return to work. For questions or guidance specific to your situation please call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00AM – 8:00PM EST. In addition to the Ticket to Work program, we have special rules to help you get back to work without jeopardizing your initial benefits. If you have questions about the 9 month Trial Work Period (TWP) or the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), we recommend that you call our toll free number at -1800-772-1213 and speak to one of our agents. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or contact your local Social Security office directly. We hope you reach out and get clarification on these important options.


    I contacted TTW today and she could not answer my questions. I desperately want to attempt going back to work.
    I have worked hard all my life until my health turned on me. I am finding it very hard to get straight forward answers to any of my questions.
    So I google and come across this site and I have to say it scares me more now then ever to even try the program.
    I can NOT afford to lose my disability check nor can I sit around and wait for it to be reinstated.
    If this program real did as promised and wasn’t like a big confessing maze more people would be willing to try it and more people would end up off Ssdi.
    So sad to see that those have tried the program ended up going from having next to nothing to having not even a roof over their heads.
    Sounds more like the government should be held accountable for false advertising and help get these people back into housing.
    I have yet to read a story of someone making it work as it suppose to but only how it tears one down worse then they were.
    As if our lives are not sad and depressing enough then the government hangs a carrot in front of our starving face.
    Now what? Who do we turn to when they hurt us even worse?
    How are we supposed to work through the vast maze of the TTW program if the people we call can not even answer our questions. Let alone give us misleading answers?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment Phyllis. Social Security strongly supports those individuals who want to return to the work force while supplementing their disability benefit income. We have Work Incentives that allow people to work and still receive their benefits. During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. Also, a person may still be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they work. However, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount. This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. In 2017, the SGA limit is $1,170 per month (or $1,950 for blind applicants). We hope this information helps.

      • PHYLLIS H.

        No it has not answered my questions at all. I been on disability since 2007. I currently recive $1,099.00 a month.
        I have been a hard working woman all my life. Do to many health complications I ended up on disability.
        I desperately want to seek gainful employment. However when I checked into the TTW program now that although my disabilities won’t ever get better they are being managed to appointment where I am ready to try. However reading what others have gone through and the inability to get a direct honest answer from anyone on what really happens while working the TTW program.
        Why do they say you can go make all you can for the first 9 months and it won’t affect you disability income. You will still recive your check and keep your medicare and Medicaid insurance. Then after the 9 months if you keep working then it affects it.
        From what I been reading disabled people are being punished for trying to see what they can and can not do.
        They are losing there disability checks and insurance while still with in the 9 months.
        Why tell people that if do to your disabilities that if they find they can not work all they have to do is call a number and they will start reciving there disability checks right away when it my be months to a year or more before the checks start up again?
        Seems more disabled people who try this program end up homeless.
        How is this suppose to help us?
        I am only trying to figure out the workings of this massive maze.
        I really want to work but seeing how no one can or is willing to out right honest on the answers or they don’t have the information.
        Please answer the 9 month rule and why is it that when we’re being told you lose NOTHING in that first 9 months is so many losing it all?

  7. Karen K.

    I am currently trying, The Ticket to Work program and I’m 65. I need to supplement my social security disability. With only part time work because that’s all I can do. I can’t afford to lose my SSDI, so now I’m really worried and thinking maybe I should not do this because I can’t afford to lose Medicare or Medicaid or Medicare premium paid, I still have disabilities, any suggestions? My Social Security starts next year, 66 and then I can work part-time without worry? After reading this blog I’m really concerned. Does anyone do this program successfully and are they able to supplement the income from SSDI or SSI without losing their medical benefits, SSDI or SSI?

  8. James T.

    remind us again why the unemployment rate in the U.S. for workers with disabilities has WORSENED since the Ticket to Work was signed in 1999. For all the time and money why hasn’t the ABYSSMAL disability unemployment rate improved? Why aren’t more PWD employed in 2016? In reality, the Ticket to Work, for all the time and money spent, has been an abject failure and quite simply has NOT translated into more PWD going to work, let alone above SGA levels which I understand was sort of the goal. That is just the data talking, my friend.

  9. Susan

    Ok so I am doing just fine on my Sadi checks, I’ve worked hard long hours in the past. But now I’ve been disabled for 10yrs and my pride is telling me to get an education and get back to some sort of work.
    My questions are will ticket to work help me learn a career that will pay me as I have earned in the past?
    And what happens if I can’t even get threw to ticked to work program?
    I am doing my best to get off my pain meds but if I can’t live with the pain then what?
    Is SSDI going to stop payments?
    I can’t go back to my usual “old” occupation do to my injury.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Susan, if you are interested in the Ticket to Work program, and need more information, please call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967).

    • James T.

      Susan, please see my post below. The Ticket to Work will help you very little if at all with your stated vocational goals. Really, at this time, the only plus to submitting your Ticket is that you are precluded from having a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) when it is in effect. Otherwise, it is essentially worthless despite contention by the SSA otherwise. So, just use your 9 month Trial Work Period, your state’s Medicaid Buy-in, and the other work incentives available to you that have little to do with your Ticket, as they can be used to good effect w/out it. However, most SSA field office staff are painfully uninformed as to what these work incentives are and how they are used so a call to your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) is also a good move. They can help explain the Trial Work Period, Substantial Gainful Activity, Extended Period of Eligibility, etc. and how best to interface/ your local SSA office. If not then just reply to this post and I will help you understand how this whole thing works myself!

  10. Mary J.

    This program was totally describe wrong. I am Disabled, I do not plan on going back full time to work, if I could, I would have already done this I was under the understanding that the money you made was to have extra money to live on, since me and my daughter are very poor. I get 657. dollars per month, now I get a little job with the IRS working only 1 hour a day for five days, that’s 113 every two weeks. With that money they take the gross amount (which is wrong) and cut it in half and decrease that amount from my ssi check, so I’m actually making less than when I’ve started. Everytime I called ss they said a third party was going to contact me, I’ve done this 3 times and no one has ever contacted me. I read these horrible stories and I am very scared. First because I’m disabled and I can’t completely go back to work and when the year is up, I to have to wait to be reinstated?? OMG what would I do? Am I to be homeless with a 13 year old daughter? I’m really scared and I did the wrong thing here and there’s no one to talk about this with, that will give you true facts about the program. Why would anyone do this if they take half of your money? All this is for is for the government to get you off of disability and back to working, when I can’t work full time. I need help, not more problems and less money.

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