Definition of Ticket to Work Program

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Written By LawrenceGarcia

Demystifying the world of finance, one article at a time.





People with disabilities can return to work through the Ticket To Work program. Established by the Ticket To Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act in 1999,12 this initiative allows disabled workers to assess their capacity for employment without compromising access to healthcare benefits. A disability determination made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines who qualifies for this program.

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This program was established to address concerns over how few Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients could leave the disability rolls and enter the labor force. Beneficiaries who desired employment had only one choice: A state vocational rehabilitation agency (VR), which works with both public and private sector employers to assist individuals with disabilities in their transition into the workforce. Currently, over 1 million Americans receive services from state VR agencies annually.

Ticket to Work’s key provision addresses a major worry for many Social Security Disability recipients: losing their health care coverage. Participants in the program can continue having Medicare coverage up to eight and a quarter years after returning to work, and those on SSDI who are employed qualify for premium-free Part B coverage of hospitalizations; however, individuals must still pay for it unless another party provides it on their behalf.

Becoming Comply With the Ticket to Work Understanding the Ticket to Work Understanding the Process

Ticket to Work, a voluntary and free program, provides disabled workers aged 18-64 with job placement training and other support to help them thrive in the workplace. This initiative strives to help disabled individuals achieve financial independence without relying solely on Social Security Administration benefits.

In 2022, individuals can receive up to $841 and $1,261 respectively in federal cash payments under Social Security Disability (SSI), depending on how many dependents they have. Under SSA guidelines, participants are held accountable for meeting specific goals within an agreed-upon timeline.


Participating in Ticket to Work Employment Activities

Participants in Ticket to Work can search for employment opportunities and resources through an employment network (EN), which is a consortium of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and employers that provides services to Ticket to Work participants. These include job placement advice and training, career guidance and support in the workplace.7 VR agencies are state-level programs offering education or skills development along with additional assistance if needed by those needing extra help at work.

Program Incentives

Many people with disabilities who receive SSI and SSDI benefits worry about losing their health insurance. But with Ticket to Work, individuals can continue coverage under Medicare and Medicaid for up to 93 months after stopping receiving SSI/ SSDI payments by paying premiums up to 93 months after beginning coverage.

It is essential to remember that beneficiaries may qualify for lower rates through the Affordable CareAct (ACA) or their state’s insurance marketplace. If they cancel Medicare after receiving payments, they cannot get back on unless approved for SSI/SSDI through expedited reinstatement. If unable to qualify, beneficiaries must sign up again during general enrollment period of Medicare.

Other Work Incentive Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers several work incentives to assist those with disabilities in returning to employment, such as the extended eligibility period (EPE), trial work period (TWP), and expedited reinstatements. Please note that EPE and TWP only apply to SSDI benefits; they do not apply to SSI benefits. Both SSDI and SSI beneficiaries may qualify for EXRs (Extended Earned Retirement Bonuses). If you’re on benefits and have worked before now, make sure your TWP months remain available by calling your local SSA office.

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What to Know During the Trial Work Period:

The Trial Work Period (TWP) is a nine-month period in which beneficiaries receive their entire check regardless of how much money they make. These nine months don’t have to be consecutive; if an individual earns more than $970 per month through W-2 employment or self-employment net earnings over $970 per month and/or works more hours than the monthly limit for self-employment, that month of earnings counts as part of their TWP. After this nine month period has elapsed, they enter the Extended Period (EPE) immediately following the TWP.

How the Extended Period of Eligibility Works

Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) refers to a 36-month period in which beneficiaries still qualify for Social Security benefits even if their earnings fall below the SGA limit. If they earn more than this limit, however, they will no longer receive benefits. The Social Security Allowance is calculated based on gross earnings from W-2 income and net earnings earned through self-employment activities.

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How long do ticket holders qualify for health benefits?

Workers can still apply for Medicare coverage even after their benefits have ended. Participants will continue receiving healthcare services for another 93 months even if they stop receiving cash payments. After the free coverage period, participants have the option of participating in Medicare Savings Programs at reduced cost or applying for Medicaid depending on where they live and their income level.