WHAT DO I DO WITH
MY TICKET TO WORK?
IT’S UP TO YOU!!!
NOTHING! You don’t have to do anything with it. If you don’t use your ticket, you will not see any change in your Social Security or SSI benefits.
DO YOU WANT TO WORK? If you are considering returning to work you can talk with a “benefits planner” free of charge. The benefits planner can help you determine what will happen to your benefits (cash, medical, and housing) if you return to work and begin earning money. For information concerning benefits planning in Massachusetts contact:
Project Impact – (800) 734-7475
Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk Counties and the City of Somerville
BenePlan – (508) 647-1722
Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester and
Middlesex Counties, excluding Somerville.
If you want assistance getting a job, vocational rehabilitation services or support services, you can take your ticket to an Employment Network or the state VR agency, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. You can find out about Employment Networks in your area from Maximus at 1-866-968-7842 or
CHOOSE AN EMPLOYMENT NETWORK. If you choose to work with an Employment Network, you must assign your ticket to an Employment Network and sign an Individual Work Plan (IWP). The IWP sets out what your goals are and what specific services the Employment Network will provide you to help you meet your goals.
If you choose to assign your ticket to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commissioner (MRC), you will sign an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), instead of an IWP. The IPE also sets out your employment goals and the specific services that MRC will provide you to help you meet your goal.
ASSIGN YOUR TICKET AND GET BUSY! Once your ticket is assigned to an Employment Network, you begin working toward your goals. The purpose of the Ticket to Work program is to provide you with the supports and services you need to work and reduce or eliminate your dependence on Social Security or SSI benefits. In order to measure your progress toward reducing your dependence, SSA requires you to make timely progress toward self-supporting employment.
WHAT IS TIMELY PROGRESS?
§ For the first 24 months that you are using your ticket, there is no work requirement. You just have to do whatever your IWP or IPE says you should be doing to prepare yourself for work.
§ In the next 12 months (months 25 – 36) you have to have gross earnings in 3 months at a level that is over the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level ($780/month is 2002). For SSDI recipients, this means that you can still receive an SSDI check if you have impairment related work expenses (IRWEs) or other exclusions that bring your countable earnings below the SGA amount. SSI recipients with earnings at the SGA level may still receive an SSI check depending upon gross earnings.
§ In the following 12 months (months 37 through 48), you have to have gross earnings over SGA for 6 months out of the 12. Again you can use IRWEs or other income exclusions to bring you below SGA and still qualify for a cash benefit.
§ In the last 12 months (months 49 to 60) you have to have gross earnings that make you ineligible for any SSDI or SSI benefit.
IF YOU MAKE TIMELY PROGRESS… If you make timely progress, while using your ticket, SSA cannot do a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) of your case.
WHAT IF I DON’T MAKE TIMELY PROGRESS? If you don’t make timely progress, SSA may conduct a Medical Continuing Disability Review of your case. Nothing else will happen to your benefits, unless SSA decides after a continuing disability review that you are no longer disabled.
HOW DOES THE EMPLOYMENT NETWORK GET PAID? The Employment Network gets paid when you work and earn enough that you no longer qualify for a check from SSDI or SSI. The Employment Network can get paid for 60 months while you are working. Therefore the Employment Network has an incentive to help you get a job and keep you employed.
ADVOCACY SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE.
Should legal issues arise that interfere with your attempt to return to work, or disputes with an Employment Network or MRC, free advocacy services are available from the Disability Law Center. Services are available in the form of information and advice, referral to other legal organizations or private attorneys, and direct representation concerning legal issues directly involved with your return to work. For example, health care terminations, reasonable accommodation issues. Currently, this project can only serve those individuals who are receiving cash payments (SSDI or SSI) from the Social Security Administration. For services, call the number listed below.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW? There are many details that are not included in this fact sheet. You can contact the Disability Law Center for more information.
DISABILITY LAW CENTER
11 Beacon St., Ste. 925
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-9464 TTY
(800) 381-0577 TTY