Ticket to Work

Overview and Eligibility

Ticket to Work is a federal program that helps adults with disabilities prepare for and find employment. To qualify for Ticket to Work, you must:

Ticket to Work, sometimes simply called the “Ticket program,” offers you many choices of where you can get employment services and it lets you try working without worrying about losing your health care coverage or other disability benefits.

No Continuing Disability Reviews while you’re in the Ticket program

One of the biggest advantages of the Ticket program is that as long as you are in it, Social Security will not make you do medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). That means that if you don’t get a job or if your job doesn’t go well, you won’t lose your eligibility for disability benefits such as SSI, SSDI, Medi-Cal, or Medicare.

Employment services you can get through the Ticket program include:

Ticket to Work can help you make more earned income and become more self-sufficient. If things go well, you can become more independent and less reliant on SSI and SSDI.

The Ticket to Work program is:

The Ticket to Work program is:

  • Voluntary
    • You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to
  • Free
    • The government pays for all of the services
  • Safe
    • You can learn about work options or try working without losing your health care coverage, including Medicare and Medi-Cal
    • If your disability gets worse and you need to stop working, it lets you get back on SSI or SSDI easily
    • You don’t have to deal with Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)

How Does the Program Work?

Employment Networks

If you get SSI or SSDI and are 18 to 64 years old, you automatically qualify for the Ticket to Work program. You may get a paper “ticket” with an explanation about it in the mail or you may not get a paper ticket. Either way, the fact that you are on either SSI or SSDI means that you are listed in the Ticket to Work computers as being eligible and that you “have a ticket.”

So, when you feel prepared to think about employment and want to figure out how best to move forward , you can choose to participate in the Ticket program by contacting an “Employment Network” (EN).” ENs are organizations that can give you the various employment services that Ticket to Work offers.

Many different types of organizations can serve as ENs, including:

You can only get help from one EN at a time which means you have to choose which EN you want to serve you. The process of choosing an EN is called “assigning your ticket” to an EN. Once you assign the ticket, a plan will be developed between you and the agency you choose to work with. The plan will include details about the services they will get and a timeline showing when things will get done.

Choosing an Employment Network

You can find an EN in your area by searching the Employment Network Directory. If you need additional help choosing an EN, you can:

  • Call the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY)
  • Email the Ticket to Work customer service office at support@choosework.ssa.gov

Once you’ve looked at the Employment Network Directory and found some ENs near you, contact them to see if the services and supports they offer are right for you. Each EN offers different services based on their experience and specialty. Make sure to talk to a few, because it’s important to find one that will be a good match for you.

Here are some things to think about and ask any ENs to help you select the EN that will best serve your needs:

  • Ask what types of disability issues their clients have had in the past.
  • If they’ve had clients with your disability, ask how they helped those clients.
  • Tell the EN about your concerns related to working and ask for their advice.
  • Ask if they have any specialties, such as job referrals, job placement, skills training, or anything else.

You are free to talk with as many Employment Networks as you like, and you don’t have to work with an EN simply because you have talked with them. If you find one you like, you can ask them to be your Ticket to Work Employment Network. They have the right to say no if they want to, in which case you’ll have to find a different EN.

If you choose an Employment Network, begin to work with them, and later are unhappy with their services, you can always change to a different EN. To learn how to change ENs, click here.

Ticket to Work and the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is the most common Ticket to Work Employment Network. You should consider the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services it offers and compare them to those offered by other ENs.

If you have a disability and don’t qualify for Ticket to Work because you don’t get SSI or SSDI, you may still qualify to get employment services through DOR. DOR is explained in more detail here.

Creating Your Work Plan

When you and an Employment Network have agreed to work together, you both will develop an Individual Work Plan (IWP) that clearly states what the EN is going to do for you to help you reach your employment goals, including a timeline that says when they will do these things. The IWP also needs to list what you are going to do.

Your IWP should contain the following:

  • Your employment goals (the type of work you want to do)
  • All services your EN will give you and how they will be delivered to you
  • What you can do if you are not satisfied with your EN or your IWP
  • How you can change your IWP if you need to
  • When your IWP begins and ends

Once you and your EN agree to the plan, it will be sent for approval to Ticket to Work administrators. When your IWP is approved, you and your EN will begin to do the things stated in the plan.

Self-Employment

You can also use the Ticket to Work program to help you become self-employed or to start your own business. If you are interested in pursuing a self-employment goal, you need to tell potential Employment Networks about your goal, because not all ENs will have experience with helping people who want to become self-employed. It is important to find an EN that has the resources to help you meet your goal.

Changing Employment Networks

If at any point you are not happy with the services your EN is offering, you can find a different EN. To change ENs, ask your EN to have your ticket “unassigned.”

For more detailed information about unassigning your ticket:

  • Call the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY)
  • Email the Ticket to Work customer service office at support@choosework.ssa.gov

After you unassign your Ticket, you have 3 months to find another EN and create a new Individual Work Plan that better meets your needs. If you don’t find an EN within 3 months, you’ll have to conduct a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) with Social Security, which could cause you to lose your SSI or SSDI benefits. To read more about CDRs, click here.

If You Have to Stop Working

If you stop working and want to get back on SSI or SSDI, there is a rule called “Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) that can help you. EXR can help anybody who lost their eligibility for SSI or SSDI due to job income within the last 5 years.

If you’re on SSDI, you might not even have to use Expedited Reinstatement to get your SSDI benefits started again. SSDI has a couple of other rules called the “Trial Work Period” and the “Extended Period of Eligibility” that may mean that you get back on SSDI even more easily.

You can read about these rules in more detail on the How Ticket to Work Impacts Benefits page.

What is MAXIMUS?

Ticket to Work is a publicly funded program, but it is actually operated by a private company named MAXIMUS.

Since you will usually be communicating directly with your Employment Network, you probably won’t hear much about MAXIMUS. However, if you communicate directly with the Ticket program, for example, by calling the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or using the Ticket to Work website, you may see or hear the name MAXIMUS.