Social Security Disability Insurance is a major help to approximately nine million people every year. Many adults rely on their monthly Social Security income to pay their basic expenses such as their mortgage or rent, utilities, and food. These benefits may be what keeps a family above water until the beneficiary can get back to work or learn new skills to build a career.
Individuals who receive SSDI are not alone when it comes time to re-enter the workforce. Finding work for the first time or trying to build a new career can be intimidating, which is why the Ticket to Work Program exists.
What Is the Ticket to Work Program?
Ticket to Work is an entirely free program created to help Social Security beneficiaries gain job training and career opportunities. Some of the beneficiaries may be looking for their first job while others are trying to get back to work.
The entire point of the program is to enable people to become successful and financially independent without immediately losing their monetary and healthcare benefits. People who go through the program gain employable skills. They learn how to job hunt and how to create and reach goals at work.
Do I Have to Participate?
No, the Ticket to Work Program is entirely free. It is there for you when you need it. You can also seek out education, training, and employment on your own or through other programs. However, there are many advantages to working with the Ticket to Work Program, including ensuring you still receive your benefits when you need them.
Who Is Eligible?
It is simple: to be eligible for the Ticket to Work program, you must be between the ages of 18 and 64 and receive Social Security benefits. You must be blind, a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance or a recipient of Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Eligibility for this program is expansive while remaining entirely free to participants. North Carolina has 475,291 eligible beneficiaries as of March 2016, according to the Social Security Ticket Tracker.
How Do I Participate?
Beneficiaries can sign up with an approved service provider of their choice. Service providers can be an Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. VRs differ from ENs in that they are prepared to offer more significant services to beneficiaries prior to their finding a job. Once VR services are over, the beneficiary may benefit from working with an EN to obtain ongoing job assistance.
A beneficiary has the right to speak with as many ENs or VRs as they want before assigning their Ticket to a specific organization. By talking with multiple places, a beneficiary can find the right fit. If for some reason the beneficiary changes his or her mind later, he or she can un-assign their work Ticket and assign it to a new EN or VR.
According to the Ticket for Work search results, North Carolina has 79 ENs and 38 VR. In the Charlotte area alone there are 76 ENs and 10 VRs. Beneficiaries in the state have plenty of places to choose from when they are interested in getting into the workforce.
Once the EN or VR accepts the Ticket assignment, they will work closely with the beneficiary to determine his or her skills and career aspirations. Then they coordinate the necessary services for the beneficiary that will help him or her gain and maintain a job. Services include training, career counseling, job placement, and support services. Some ENs and VRs help beneficiaries go to community college and gain associate’s degrees or certifications. As the need for Internet-based jobs increases, there are more opportunities for disabled workers in the tech industry.
North Carolina has 12,023 total tickets in-use and assigned as of March 2016, according to the Social Security Ticket Tracker.
Do I Lose My Benefits?
No, the Ticket to Work program enables beneficiaries to gain skills and build a career without losing their monetary or healthcare benefits. Overtime, the beneficiary may be able to eliminate the need for their monthly cash benefits because of their work. However, if they stop working, they can receive their benefits again under the program.
Additionally, beneficiaries working through the program will not receive a medical continuing disability review.
Flaws in the Program & SSDI
Ticket to Work is not a perfect program, though it can help many people get a job, find financial stability, and improve their mental health. One flaw is in educating people on how to use the program to their advantage. Many people do not know the program exists or do not realize it can help them gain work without immediately taking away their benefits.
But the biggest flaw may be in simply ensuring that people who need SSDI get it.
Applying for disability is a difficult and intimidating process. Applicants have to go through an in-depth interview regarding their medical record and then attend a hearing with a judge. The timeline for the entire process can mean there are years between when a person gets hurt and when they receive SSDI. Many people are rejected on their first or second try and need an attorney to help them through the appeals process.
How a Charlotte SSDI Attorney Can Help
Navigating SSDI can be exhausting. For people who were hurt at work or born with a disability that makes it difficult to find and keep a job, SSDI is a life saver. It helps them keep a roof over their heads and food in the refrigerator when they are not capable of going to work.
However, many people who sincerely need SSDI are initially denied. Applicants have the right to appeal and should have an attorney help them do so. An experienced SSDI attorney like those found at the law offices of Ted A. Greve & Associates P.A. understands the complex application process and will do whatever he can to ensure his clients receives the benefits they need.
Once people have SSDI, getting back to work can be difficult and scary. The Ticket to Work Program is meant to make this transition easier, but it too has its difficulties. A skilled North Carolina SSDI lawyer can help a person determine if the program is right for them and find an EN that is well-matched to that person’s needs.