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A brief look at SSDI's Ticket to Work program

Over the last year around 8.2 million people collected disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Income program. The total number of benefits collected was around $115 billion. The number of people receiving benefits has increased over the last ten years from 5 million. The increase in the number of people who receive Social Security Disability benefits is attributed to the harsh economy and the rising number of baby boomers who are no longer able to work because of disability.

Even though Social Security officials say that many folks who receive disability benefits are not able to go back to work because of medical issues, Social Security Disability Income offers a program that helps beneficiaries return to work. The name of the program is called the Ticket to Work program. Workers who fight for months to receive their disability benefits are fearful that participation in the program will disqualify their benefits. The rules of the program do not reflect those concerns.

Under Social Security Disability and the Ticket to Work program, people with disability benefits may earn any amount without threatening their benefits for nine months after starting a job. For a period of three years beneficiaries will immediately receive full benefits again if their monthly income falls below $1,000. Lastly, beneficiaries are allowed to keep their Medicare coverage for eight and one half years after going back to work.

The Ticket to Work program also helps beneficiaries with job searches, and for those who participate in the program Social Security waives their medical reviews. The program exists obviously to help people return to work and as the commissioner of Social Security said for people who are able to work it "gives them dignity and improves their economic condition."

Source: The New York Times, "Disabled, but looking for work," Motoko Rich, 4/6/11

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