by Kim Donahue, Disaboom.
Ticket to Work Program SSDI and SSI The Ticket to Work Program is an innovative program from the Social Security Administration for individuals with disabilities who want to work. It increases your choices in obtaining the employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services you may need to get or keep a job. It is a free and voluntary service. You can use the Ticket if you choose, but there is no penalty for not using it. Also, the SSA will not conduct a medical review of your case while you are using the Ticket. This program is available in all 50 States and 10 United States Territories. Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability beneficiaries will receive a “Ticket” they can use to obtain services from a state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency or another approved provider of their choice. The SSA calls these approved providers “Employment Networks,” which are private organizations or government agencies that have agreed to work with Social Security in providing employment services to beneficiaries with disabilities. For Ticket to Work information, including a list of approved Employment Networks, contact the SSA Ticket Program Operations Support Manager, MAXIMUS, at their toll free numbers; 1-866-YOURTICKET (1-866-968-7842) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD); from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time (Monday through Friday). You can also find current information about the Ticket to Work Program at http://www.ssa.gov/work/Ticket/ticket_info.html and at http://www.yourtickettowork.com. Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) SSDI and SSI With IRWE, the cost of certain impairment-related items and services that you need to work from your gross earnings when the SSA decides if your “countable earnings” demonstrate performance of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). It does not matter if you also use these items and services for non-work activities.IRWE are also excluded from your earned income when your SSI monthly payment amount is being calculated by the SSA. IRWE is deducted for SGA purposes when: The item or service enables you to work; You need the item or service because of your disabling impairment; You paid the cost and are not reimbursed by another source; for example, Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance; The cost is “reasonable,” that is, it represents the standard charge for the item or service in your community; and You paid the expense in a month that you are or were working. Occasionally, an impairment-related work expense may be used before the first or after the last month of work activity. In addition, IRWE is deducted from SSI payments when: •You meet requirements 1 through 4 above, and •You paid the expense in a month that you received earned income or performed work while you used the impairment-related item or service. Note: In certain situations, the SSA can deduct IRWE amounts for expenses paid before you start or after you stop work. Subsidy and Special Conditions SSDI and SSI “Subsidy” and “special conditions” are the names the SSA uses for support you receive on the job that may result in you receiving more pay than the actual value of the services you perform. “Subsidy” is support provided by your employer. “Special conditions” are generally provided by someone other than your employer, for example, a vocational rehabilitation agency. The SSA considers the existence of subsidy and special conditions when it makes a SGA decision. It uses only earnings that represent the real value of the work you perform to decide if your work is at the SGA level. The SSA does not take into account subsidy or special conditions when it figures your SSI payment amount. Subsidy or special conditions may exist if: •You receive more supervision than other workers doing the same or a similar job for the same pay; •You have fewer or simpler tasks to complete than other workers doing the same job for the same pay; or •You have a job coach or mentor who helps you perform some of your work. If your employer and/or other involved parties cannot or will not set the real value of your work, the SSA will decide the value of your work. Unincurred Business Expenses (Self-Employed Only) SSDI and SSI “Unincurred business expenses” is the name the SSA uses for contributions made by others to your self-employment business effort. For example, the state vocational rehabilitation agency gives you a computer for your business, or a friend works for your business as unpaid help. If you are self-employed, the SSA generally follows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules to figure your net earnings from self-employment. However, the IRS only allows you to deduct expenses for which you actually paid or incurred debt. When the SSA makes an SGA decision, it also deducts unincurred business expenses from your net earnings because it wants an accurate measure of the value of your work. It does not deduct unincurred business expenses from earnings when figuring your SSI payment amount. For an SSDI item or service to qualify as an unincurred business expense, it must meet the following two requirements: •It must be an item or service that the IRS would allow as a legitimate business expense if you had paid for it; and •Someone other than you must have paid for it. Unsuccessful Work Attempt SSDI and SSI An unsuccessful work attempt is an effort to do substantial work, in employment or self-employment, that you stopped or reduced to below the SGA level after a short time (6 months or less) because of: •Your impairment; or •Removal of special conditions (see “Subsidy and Special Conditions,” above) related to your impairment and essential to the further performance of your work. When the SSA makes an SGA decision for initial eligibility for SSDI or SSI, it does not count earnings during an unsuccessful work attempt that occurred prior to your award. SSDI When the SSA makes an SGA decision to determine if your disability continues or ceases because of your work, it does not count earnings during an unsuccessful work attempt. During the extended period of eligibility, it considers unsuccessful work attempt(s) as part of its SGA decision(s) for months up to and including the month (if any) in which it ceases your disability. During the trial work period, or after the month (if any) in which the SSA ceases your disability, it does not consider unsuccessful work attempts because they only have effect when the SSA makes an SGA decision. SSI The SSA only considers an unsuccessful work attempt at the time you file an initial claim. Unsuccessful work attempts are not considered after that time. Continued Payment under a Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Section 301) If we find you no longer have a disabling impairment due to medical improvement, your benefit payments usually stop. However, if you participate in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services or other support services, your benefits may continue until your participation in the program ends. To qualify: •You must be participating in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services or other support services before your disability ends under our rules; and •The SSA must review the situation and decide that your continued participation in the program would increase the likelihood of your permanent removal from the disability benefit rolls. Your benefits may continue until you complete your program, your participation in the program stops, or the SSA decide that your continued participation in the program will not increase the likelihood of your permanent removal from the disability benefit rolls. Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) SSDI and SSI A plan to achieve self-support (PASS) allows you to set aside income and/or resources for a specified time for a work goal. For example, you could set aside money to pay expenses for education, vocational training, or starting a business as long as the expenses are related to achieving your work goal. The SSA does not count the income that you set aside under your PASS when it figures your SSI payment amount. It does not count the resources that you set aside under your PASS when determining your initial and continuing eligibility for SSI. A PASS can help you establish or maintain SSI eligibility and can increase your SSI payment amount. A PASS does not affect any SGA determination for your initial eligibility decision. If you receive SSI or could qualify for SSI, you can have a plan. For example, if you have too much income to be eligible for SSI now, using the income to pay PASS expenses may make you eligible for SSI. You may not need a plan now, but you may need one next month or next year to remain eligible or to increase your SSI payment amount.