In order to obtain SS Disability, you have to show that you will be completely unable to work for at least a year. That said, many people’s conditions improve with treatment, so some people will be able to resume some work activities.
That can put you in a bind. If you can work, you’re no longer eligible for SS Disability benefits — or the Medicare/Medicaid insurance that pays for your treatment. And what if you go back to work only to find that you can’t handle it?
Luckily, there is a program through the Social Security Administration that allows people with disabilities to explore the path back to work without it threatening their benefits. That program is called “Ticket to Work.”
You won’t lose benefits for using the Ticket to Work program
The Ticket to Work program offers a chance to try out working for nine months without losing your benefits or government-sponsored health insurance.
Ultimately, if you are able to work full time you will no longer need your SS Disability benefits. However, even after those benefits have stopped, you may be able to maintain your Medicare or Medicaid for 93 months (almost 8 years) after your nine-month trial work period.
Will the Social Security Administration take this as a cue to review my disability status? No. Participating in the Ticket to Work program will not result in an automatic disability review. You will only receive a periodic continuing disability review if one was already scheduled when you started the program. And, as long as you make timely progress in your Ticket to Work program, the agency will not schedule any new reviews.
What if I can’t do it? Will I lose my benefits? No. Many people fear that even trying to work will signal to the Social Security Administration that they’re no longer disabled. It’s true that your earnings from work could make you ineligible for SS Disability benefits, but there’s a plan in place if you ultimately decide you aren’t able to work after all.
The Social Security Administration expedites benefits for people in this situation. You have five years after your Ticket to Work program to request an expedited review. This allows you to receive up to six months of benefits while the agency reviews your case and decides whether your SS Disability benefits should be reinstated. And, if your benefits are not reinstated, you generally don’t have to pay back the benefits you received during this expedited review period.
For help with the Ticket to Work program, contact the Social Security Administration at 866-968-7842/866-833-2967 (TTY) or call an SS Disability lawyer.