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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions:
Overview of the Ticket Program

Q: What is the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency (Ticket) program?

A: The Ticket to Work Program provides most people receiving Social Security benefits (beneficiaries) more choices for receiving employment services. Under this program, most beneficiaries become eligible for the Ticket to Work Program when they start to receive SSDI or SSI benefits based on disability. 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.

Q: What is the goal of the Ticket program?

A: 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.

Q: How does the Ticket program help people receiving disability benefits go to work?

A: 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.

Q: What kind of entity can be an Employment Network in the Ticket program?

A: 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 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.

Q: Do I have to participate in the Ticket Program?

A: No. The goal of the Ticket to Work program is to help people receiving Social Security disability benefits obtain employment and work toward greater independence and increased self-sufficiency. Social Security pays ENs when the people receiving Social Security disability benefits they work with achieve certain Milestones and Outcomes associated with work and earnings. The program is free and voluntary, meaning you do not have to pay for services received under the Ticket program and there is no penalty for not participating.

Q: Do I need to have the paper Ticket sent to me by Social Security in order to participate in the program?

A: No, you do not need to have the paper Ticket to start working with an approved provider of vocational services and supports called an Employment Network (EN). The EN you select can contact the Operations Support Manager, MAXIMUS, to verify your eligibility to participate in the program.

Q: What is an Employment Network (EN)? How do I find information on ENs in my area?

A: ENs are organizations and agencies, including your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, that entered into an agreement with the Social Security Administration to provide employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other types of support services to people receiving Social Security disability benefits with disabilities under the Ticket to Work program.

You can contact any EN in your area to see if the services and supports they offer are right for you. Both you and the EN must agree to work together and develop a plan that describes your employment goal and outlines the services and supports the EN will provide to help you reach that goal. If you need help in choosing an EN, visit http://www.ssa.gov/work or call the Ticket to Work hotline at 866-968-7842 (voice) 866-833-2967 (TTY).

Q: What do I do if I want to change my Employment Network (EN)?

A: You are free to contact as many ENs as you like while you are looking for the one that is a good fit. To change ENs, you will need to un-assign your Ticket. First, we encourage you to notify your current EN that you plan to un-assign your Ticket with them. Then, you will need to submit a Ticket Un-assignment form. Please complete the form at www.choosework.net/materials/TTW_Unassignment_Template.pdf and include all of the required information. For more details on un-assigning your Ticket, please see the question: How do I un-assign my Ticket from my Employment Network (EN)?

Q: How do I un-assign my Ticket from my Employment Network (EN)?

A: You can un-assign your Ticket with your EN at any time; however you are encouraged to notify the EN before requesting that your Ticket be un-assigned. To request unassignment, please complete the form at www.choosework.net/materials/TTW_Unassignment_Template.pdf and include all of the required information.

If you want to keep your Continuing Disability Review (CDR) protection, it's important that you re-assign your Ticket within 90 days. If you have any questions about CDR protection, or need more information about Ticket to Work, call 1-866-968-7842(V) or 866-833-2967(TTY) M - F 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM EST.

Q: Do I need to pay anything to participate in the Ticket Program?

A: 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.

Q: Can I participate in the Ticket Program and get services from my State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency?

A: Yes. State VR agencies provide a wide variety of services and supports to help people with disabilities return to work, enter a new line of work, or enter the workplace for the first time. To locate the VR agency in your state, visit www.choosework.net/resource/jsp/searchByState.jsp.

Q: Can I work with my State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency as well as another participating Employment Network (EN)?

A: It depends. The Ticket Program only allows you to work with one EN (including a State VR agency) at a time. However, you might be able to get services from the VR agency first and then, once VR closes your case, get follow-along or ongoing support services from a different EN. In addition, you may be able to work with a service provider that provides services under a contract with the State VR agency while your VR case is open and, after your VR case is closed, continue working with that same services provider under the Ticket program if the provider is an approved EN.

Q: Will I lose my Social Security benefits when I participate in the Ticket Program to get vocational services and supports?

A: You will continue to receive your benefits until you begin earning wages or self-employment income above the applicable earnings limit for the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance program. In addition, Social Security cannot perform a medical "Continuing Disability Review" to determine whether you continue to have a disability while you are participating in the Ticket Program, including receiving services from the State Vocational Rehabilitation agency, and progressing towards your employment goal, so only your earnings can affect your benefit eligibility.

How much you can earn before it will affect the amount of your monthly benefit will vary for each individual. This is due in part to the fact that you can subtract certain amounts from your gross earnings by taking advantage of Social Security Work Incentives. For more information on Social Security Work Incentives, check out the Social Security Red Book at www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Q: What are Work Incentives?

A: 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.

To learn more about these and other Social Security Work Incentives, check out the Social Security Red Book at www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Q: Will I lose my Medicare eligibility if I participate in the Ticket program?

A: 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.

Q: Will I lose my Medicaid Coverage if I participate in the Ticket program?

A: 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.socialsecurity.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 web site for the Medicaid agency in your state can be found at www.nasmd.org/links/state_medicaid_links.asp.

Q: What if I have questions about my rights under the Ticket and other Social Security programs? Is there someone I can ask?

A: Yes. There is a program called Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS). Protection and Advocacy (P&A) systems are publicly funded entities that provide protection and advocacy services free of charge to individuals with disabilities. Social Security provides funding to the P&As to implement the PABSS program. PABSS staff assists people receiving Social Security disability benefits with disabilities in obtaining information and advice about receiving vocational rehabilitation and employment services.

P&As provide advocacy and other related services that people receiving Social Security disability benefits with disabilities may need to secure or regain gainful employment. Many P&As administer the Client Assistance Program (CAP) that assists individuals with disabilities in securing services from State VR agencies.

To find the PABSS program in your state, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work/PandA.html.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

For more information regarding Expedited Reinstatement, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/exr.htm.

Q: How do I put my Ticket into "inactive status"?

A: A beneficiary who is working with an EN or a State VR agency under cost reimbursement may have his/her Ticket placed in "inactive status" at any time by submitting a written request to Social Security asking that the Ticket be placed in "inactive status". "Inactive status" will begin with the first day of the month following the month your request is received. You should remember that once your Ticket is inactive status, you will no longer be protected from Continuing Disability Reviews and Social Security can review your file during those months your Ticket is inactive if you are due for one.

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

A: 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".

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

A: 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.