Worker Helping Another Worker With a Disability at WorkThere are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. One such misconception is that all recipients are lazy bums who are trying to shirk responsibility, but that’s simply not accurate. Plenty of people who are disabled find it an emotionally difficult experience to sit at home, unable to work.

Luckily for those folks, the Social Security Administration has developed a program to help them transition back to stable employment. Today we’re taking a closer look at that program, which is called Ticket to Work.

The Basics of Ticket to Work

A government program established in 2002, Ticket to Work is a free, voluntary program offered to SSDI beneficiaries. It provides employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other forms of support that help a disability recipient achieve work-related goals. The ultimate purpose of Ticket to Work is to empower recipients to achieve greater independence, including financial independence, and lead a self-sufficient life.

Most people between the ages of 18 to 64 who are receiving SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible to participate. Ticket to Work is an opt-in service, which means that there is no penalty for individuals who choose not to take advantage of it.

A Major Advantage of Ticket to Work

Psychologists have long understood that there’s a connection between a person’s employment status and self-esteem. Although lots of people joke about how great it would be to win the lottery and retire the next day, it turns out that many of us rely on our job—not just the meaning or fulfillment we get from the work we do, but the mere fact of being employed at all—as a significant contributor to our self-worth.

Perhaps surprisingly, this correlation between working and self-esteem is even evident in people who are sidelined through no fault of their own, as a result of a disability. Ticket to Work participants stand to gain tremendous benefits, both practical and intangible, from making steady progress on their path to permanent employment.

What Services Are Provided by Ticket to Work?

One cornerstone of the Ticket to Work program is its Employment Network (EN) component. ENs are entities—employers, agencies, organizations—that provide training, job placement services, workplace support, and even career advice to Social Security beneficiaries.

Another cornerstone is Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). This aspect comprises state-level agencies that offer skills training and education, workplace accommodation, and other services. People who need a little more support can start their journey by taking advantage of VR resources, then continue on to partner with ENs.

Smoothing the Transition

Many SSDI recipients are understandably concerned that taking part in the Ticket to Work program will cause them to lose their benefits—and relieved to learn that this isn’t the case. Ticket to Work is intended to help smooth the transition from disability and full-time, stable work.

To that end, the service has several built-in safeguards:

  • Expedited Reinstatement. The opportunity to resume regular benefits when recipients have to stop working, and the ability to receive provisional benefit payments while waiting for expedited reinstatement to be arranged
  • Continued healthcare benefits
  • Suspension of the required medical Continuing Disability Review

These aspects are invaluable in helping benefits recipients return to work as quickly and easily as possible.

That’s Just the Ticket!

The Ticket to Work program has helped over 1.5 million people make the transition from SSDI benefits to stable employment in its 20-year history. And it’s easy to see why it has been such a successful initiative. Beneficiaries can return to work or learn new career skills, receive the support they need to succeed, and achieve greater independence while still receiving not only their disability benefits, but their government-sponsored healthcare, as well.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Natick, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer