In the world of Ticket to Work, we use the term “Safety Nets” to describe the series of protections that the Ticket to Work program provides for Social Security Disability beneficiaries. I’d like to take you with me as we explore some of the safety nets of the Ticket to Work Program and how they work to protect you and your benefits!
- “What is a Safety Net in the Ticket to Work Program?” The Ticket to Work Program is purposely built around the concept of safety nets because they protect your hard earned and fought for disability benefits. We all know how long and draining that process and eventual achievement can be and we are delighted when we tell new beneficiaries about going back to work because we know these safety nets are so very valuable. These safety nets are what make the concept of going back to work not only possible, but achievable without sacrificing your cash and medical benefits. The Ticket to Work Program delivers safety nets through three phases.
- The first phase (after obtaining employment or returning to work) is the Trial Work Period. During this 9-month period of time you can:
- Keep your SSDI check no matter how high your earnings are during this Trial Work Period.
- For SSI recipients: While your SSI check will be reduced, somewhat, because of your additional income, you will always receive more income by working for a salary, than you would by living on SSI checks alone.
- While your SSI check will be reduced, one of the benefits available to you are work incentive deductions that reduce your countable income. With those work incentives, the best part to remember is that your monthly financial outcome will always be more when working than receiving SSI checks alone.
- Should your job not work out or your disability gets worse, your cash benefits will return to the original amount.
- Medical benefits are not impacted by the Trial Work Period.
- The 2nd phase is the Extended Period of Eligibility.
- This is a 3-year safety net that starts the month, immediately after the Trial Work Period ends, and lasts for 36 months.
- The biggest safety net in this phase is the protection for re-entitlement and you stay in eligibility status. Remember, Phase 2 runs 36 months regardless of SGA, also the EPE re-entitlement period is a safety net for beneficiaries who engage in SGA.
- While your cash benefits are “suspended” they are still available to you should your disability get worse to the point that you cannot work.
- Your Medicare coverage remains intact throughout the 36 months. Some ticket holders are able to take advantage of employer-provided medical benefits as well, so they are dully covered for their medical expenses.
- You can use Impairment Related Work Expenses to reduce your “countable earnings”.
- If, at any time during these 36 months, your original disability gets worse and you cannot work, your cash benefits may be restarted and your medical benefits will continue.
- The 3rd phase is called Expedited Reinstatement and lasts for up to 60 months (5 years) from the time your Extended Period of Eligibility ends.
- If countable earnings go below Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and your original disability prevents you from doing SGA work, you can request Expedited Reinstatement. You may be eligible for up to 6 months of “provisional cash benefits” while SSA makes a decision on your re-application.
These are just a few of the main primary safety nets provided in the Ticket to Work program. We, at Mission Possible, are here to answer your questions, and help you in any way that we can as you explore your possibilities and opportunities to be all that you can be!
‘Till next time,