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Frequently Asked Questions


1) What is the Ticket To Work Program?

The Ticket to Work Program provides most people receiving Social Security disability benefits (beneficiaries) more choices for receiving employment services. Most people who receives SSI or SSDI benefits and between the ages of 18-64, are eligible for the program. Beneficiaries may choose to assign their tickets to an Employment Network (EN) of their choice to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services necessary to achieve a vocational (work) goal. The EN, if they accept the ticket, will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help the beneficiary find and maintain employment.

2) What is the goal of the Ticket Program?

The ultimate goal of the Ticket to Work Program is to assist people receiving Social Security disability benefits in reducing their reliance on disability benefits. The Ticket Program also seeks to promote increased self-sufficiency and greater independence for people receiving Social Security disability benefits through work.

3) How does the Ticket Program help people receiving disability benefits go to work?

People with disabilities receiving benefits from SSA can use the Ticket issued to them by SSA to obtain services and supports to assist them in preparing for work and entering and maintaining employment. SSA pays approved providers of services, referred to as "Employment Networks" (ENs), when the Ticket Holders they are serving go to work and achieve designated levels of work and earnings. Rather than being a fee for services, these payments are compensation for assisting beneficiaries to achieve employment-related Milestones and Outcomes as they move towards self-supporting employment.

4) What kind of entity can be an Employment Network in the Ticket Program?

Any qualified entity, including employers, can become an EN in the Ticket Program. An EN may be any public or private entity, so long as the EN is qualified to assume responsibility for the coordination and/or delivery of employment, vocational rehabilitation or other support services to Ticket Holders to help them achieve their employment goals. An EN may be an agency, an organization, a consortium of organizations, or an individual. Certain entities, like State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and Department of Labor American Job Centers (formerly known as One Stop career centers), are automatically qualified as ENs under the Ticket Program. Federal agencies are precluded from becoming ENs and beneficiaries, who may be qualified and approved as ENs, are precluded from acting as their own EN.

5) What are Work Incentives?

Work Incentives are disability program rules that allow you to reduce your countable income so that you can continue to receive a cash benefit while you explore work or look for a job that is right for you. Examples of such Work Incentives include the extension of Medicare and Medicaid coverage while working, Impairment-Related Work Expenses, and Plans for Achieving Self-Support. In addition, if your work attempt is unsuccessful, Social Security has made it easy for you to get back on benefits when and if needed.

6) Will I lose my Medicare eligibility if I participate in the Ticket Program?

No. As long as you continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit payments, you will continue to remain eligible for the same medical coverage. There are also Work Incentives that allow you to continue your medical coverage once you begin earning enough that you stop receiving SSDI payments. If you currently receive medical coverage through Medicare, you can continue to be eligible for coverage for at least 93 months after the last month of your Trial Work Period.

7) Will I lose my Medicaid Coverage if I participate in the Ticket Program?

No. As long as you continue to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you will continue to remain eligible for the same medical coverage. If you currently receive Medicaid, you might be eligible to continue to receive Medicaid even after you stop receiving SSI benefits due to work. Your coverage might be extended in two ways. First, you might be eligible through a Work Incentives created by Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act. You need to meet certain other requirements to qualify for this Work Incentives. You can find more information regarding this program at www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/1619b.htm. Your state might also have a program called the Medicaid Buy-In Program, which allows you to keep your Medicaid coverage by paying a monthly premium, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements established by your state. To see whether your state has a Medicaid Buy-In Program and whether you might be eligible, contact your State Medicaid agency. A link to the website for the Medicaid agency in your state can be found at www.nasmd.org/links/state_medicaid_links.asp.

8) What happens if my benefits stop due to my earnings and then I can no longer work due to my disability? Will I need to file a brand new application for benefits?

No. If your benefits ended because you worked and had earnings, you can request that your benefits start again without having to complete a new application. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether you can get benefits again, Social Security can give you provisional (temporary) benefits for up to 6 months. This is because of a Work Incentives called Expedited Reinstatement. You can ask for your benefits to start again using Expedited Reinstatement for up to five years after you stop receiving benefits.

9) What is "timely progress"? What does it mean for me if I use my Ticket?

As explained above, The Social Security Administration cannot perform a medical "Continuing Disability Review" to determine whether you continue to have a disability while you are participating in the Ticket Program and progressing towards your employment goal. Every 12 months after you assign your Ticket to Work to an EN, we must decide if you are making the expected progress toward your vocational goal. We look at progress such as completing certain education or getting and keeping a job. We refer to this as a "Timely Progress Review".

10) Can I use a Ticket to become self-employed or start my own business?

Yes, a Ticket can be used to obtain services and supports to help you become self-employed or start your own business. If you are interested in pursuing a self-employment goal, you should tell the EN you would like to work with about that goal early on in the process. You should be aware, however, that some ENs might choose not to accept the Ticket assignment from someone who has self-employment as a goal.

11) Why would I go back to work if my benefits will stop?

You can earn more money from working than you would ever get from SSI/SSDI benefits. Additionally, you can work for a certain amount of time (Trial Work Period) and continue to receive your benefits in addition to your earnings.

12) How do I report earnings?

As discussed during your enrollment in Ticket to Work, participants enrolled with ERS are required to also report their income on a monthly basis to their Career Coach. This is important in helping track your progress in meeting Timely Progress. ERS will provide you with periodic reminders to report your income. You may report your earnings to your assigned Career Coach via one of the following methods:

  • Mail copies of check stubs to Attention: Wage Data, PO Box 5599, Florence, SC 29502-5599. We can provide you with postage-paid envelopes for your convenience. We ask that you please note on the envelope if you need originals or copies returned to you.
  • Fax copies of check stubs to Attention: Wage Data at 1.888.322.9640.
  • Email copies of check stubs to Attention: Wage Data at careerservices@employreward.com.

Please note that if you are self-employed, you will need to complete a Self-Employed Income form (SSA-1398) in lieu of providing check stubs. A copy is included with this packet for your convenience.
If you have questions about work incentives please contact your local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) agency. You may locate your local WIPA by using the service provider search function at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/. We are also available to answer any questions you have regarding Ticket to Work. To speak with your Career Coach you may call ERS at 1.888.322.9570 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST or by e-mail at careerservices@employreward.com.

13) What is an Employment Network?

An EN is a federally contracted organization that works directly with the Ticket To Work program to benefit beneficiaries. ENs offer support services to help you prepare for, find or maintain employment. Although services vary among ENs, they can include:

  • Career planning
  • Job leads and job placement
  • Ongoing employment supports
  • Assistance with requesting and obtaining job accommodations
  • Benefits counseling

14) Does it cost anything to use an EN?

No. The Ticket Program is free (and voluntary) for people receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Ticket Program allows you to receive vocational services and supports at no cost to you to help you obtain employment and work towards greater independence and increased self-sufficiency. Social Security pays the Employment Network you chose to work with when you achieve certain milestones and outcomes associated with work and earnings.