Most people know that Social Security provides financial resources for disabled people of all ages, but they may not realize one goal of the program is to help people who want to return to work. Some disabilities may prevent people from engaging in any sort of work, but others may allow the person training for a new job or reasonable accommodations so she can be productive again.
You Can Still Work
A disability does not necessarily prevent someone from doing the work for which he was trained. A nurse who cannot walk after a car accident, for example, might be able to work in a call center, or write nursing textbooks. In other cases, the disability necessitates a change of career. A June 2013 article on the American Association of Retired Persons website notes that a program offered by the Social Security Administration, called Ticket to Work, is designed to help disabled people go back to work and get off disability.
Finding the Path
Anyone who is disabled is eligible for Ticket to Work. Participation is voluntary and free. Service providers called Employer Networks, or ENs, contract with the SSA to provide services such as career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, job training and job placement. In addition, local vocational rehabilitation agencies may also offer services to those who are disabled and want to go back to work. You are eligible to participate if you are between the ages of 18 and 64 and receive either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income because of your disability.
Learning New Skills
You can choose to work with an EN or your state vocational rehabilitation agency. All ENs provide career counseling, job placement and ongoing support services, according to Ticket to Work, and may also offer additional services. Once you select an EN, you work together to develop an individualized work plan that describes your goals and the services the EN will provide to help you meet those goals. A state vocational rehabilitation agency has similar services to those provided by an EN, and some agencies have additional services or more in-depth rehabilitation and training services. If you work with a vocational rehabilitation agency, even if they close your case, you can still work with an EN to achieve your goals.
Take Your Time
Although the object of Ticket to Work is to help you get off disability, you have months to make the transition. For the first nine months you can try working as much as you want without losing any benefits, according to the AARP article. After that, you can earn up to $1,040 a month for 36 months, at the time of publication. Those who are blind can earn up to $1,740 a month. The amount you can earn may change from one year to the next.