Social Security's Ticket To Work Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ticket to Work Program is a program of the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) designed to expand access to employment for Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities.

As a Ticket To Work participant, you choose a service provider authorized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) who will assist you with job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation, job coaches, and transportation as part of a plan for reaching your personal employment goals.

While you are using a Ticket and making timely progress towards your goals, SSA will not review your medical disability status.

The Ticket program is for people who have already been awarded Social Security disability benefits under the adult rules and are receiving cash benefits. Under the new 2008 Ticket to Work Program regulations, all adult beneficiaries aged 18 to 64 who receive SSI or SSDI cash benefits are eligible for the Ticket to Work program. You can participate in the Ticket to Work program immediately if you meet these qualifications.

To check if you are eligible for the Ticket to Work Program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at at 1-866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY).

After you have confirmed that you are eligible to begin the Ticket to Work Program, you may look for an Employment Network (EN). To locate and choose an EN, click here. You may use only 1 Employment Network at a time. You and the EN discuss what services are needed to help reach your employment goal. This is a key step in the Ticket program. When you come to an agreement, you and the EN develop a written Individual Work Plan (IWP).

After you and the EN agree to work together, you both sign the IWP and the EN will send it to the Ticket to Work program manager to complete the assignment process. If you are not happy with the services you are getting from the EN and want to get services from another EN, you can change your EN.

An Employment Network is an entity approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide employment-related services under the Ticket Program.

Employment Networks may offer a variety of services such as job readiness services, placement services, vocational rehabilitation, training, job coaches, transportation or other supports.

A few examples of ENs are employers, the California Department of Rehabilitation, and One Stop Career Centers.

To find Employment Networks in California, click here.

Some Employment Networks (ENs) are staffing or placement agencies, but others provide other employment-related services, such as training or transportation, or an array of services. When choosing an EN, you should carefully consider which services will be most useful to you in achieving your own employment goals.

Even when an EN provides staffing or placement services, your active participation is needed in actually landing a job.

Your Individual Work Plan is your formal agreement with your Employment Network detailing exactly how you will use their services in order to achieve your employment goals. The Plan includes specific steps and time frames and may span many years.

Once you and your Employment Network (EN) have created and signed an Individual Work Plan (IWP), you must make timely progress towards reaching your employment goals. To make timely progress, you must fulfill specific requirements for each 12 months you are in the Ticket to Work Program. The exact requirements depend on how long you’ve been in the program, but they are always related to how much you have worked and earned money or how much you have gone to school. The longer you have been in the program, the higher the requirements are.

As long as you make timely progress, you will not be subject to a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) by Social Security. If you don’t make timely progress, you can keep doing the Ticket program, but may be subject to a medical CDR until you start meeting the timely progress requirements.

To see the complete timely progress requirements for each additional year in the Ticket to Work program, read Social Security's guidelines.

All Social Security disability beneficiaries normally undergo periodic medical reviews, called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). Social Security uses the CDR to determine if there has been medical improvement in your condition, or to determine whether you are still eligible for benefits.

So long as you are making timely progress on your Individual Work Plan (IWP), Social Security will not initiate a medical CDR.

Yes. If delays or problems continue with the work plan or between you and the Employment Network (EN), you or the EN can end the relationship. You can then go to another EN with no questions asked. To do that, you have to unassign your Ticket with the current EN and then go through the necessary steps to assign it to a new EN. Disability Rights California can provide mediation services in these cases, if needed.

Earnings (wages) have the same affect on benefit eligibility whether you participate in the Ticket Program or not. The SSI work rules and SSDI work rules describe how wages affect these benefits.

Social Security doesn’t mail out a paper ticket; it is all electronic. To verify that you can begin the program and to get a list of Employment Networks (ENs), call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). You can also contact them using the Ticket to Work website.

Employment Networks are not paid on a traditional fee-for-service basis. The Employment Network gets paid when you succeed - that is, as your income increases and you stop receiving Social Security cash payments.

The Ticket is free to all eligible individuals.

The Ticket Program uses the same rules that determine eligibility for Social Security disability programs. You must be a legal United States resident. The Social Security Administration provides an explanation of the rules.

Another source of information for immigrants and Social Security is the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness' "People's Guide".

If you are unable to make timely progress on your Individual Work Plan (IWP) due to illness or disability, you may ask for a temporary suspension of your participation in the Ticket to Work program. This means that the program will freeze your status on the timely progress review schedule. During this time, you will be in “inactive status.” During inactive status, Social Security can require you to have a medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).

If your health gets better and you can work again, you can reactivate your status and pick up where you left off, meaning that you will be back on your original schedule to fulfill the requirements of making timely progress.

Because Social Security suspends your periodic medical Continuing Disability Reviews while your Ticket is in use, your eligibility for the Ticket program and Social Security disability benefits will continue if there is an improvement in your medical condition.

Full time, part time and self-employment goals can work in the Ticket Program. As with current work incentive rules, the amount of earnings Social Security considers is what affects the benefit rules, not whether the job is full time, part time or self-employment.

Learn more