Social Security / Ticket to Work
Disability Benefits under the Social Security and Ticket to Work Programs
This article briefly outlines how to apply for disability benefits under the Social Security and Ticket to Work programs.
Persons with disabilities are eligible for a variety of benefits administered by the Social Security Administration. Two major benefits are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is funded by the taxes paid by workers, employers and the self-employed and is based on an applicant's work history and earnings. In contrast, SSI benefits are financed through general tax revenue and are paid to disabled persons who do not have much income or property.
Persons should apply for Social Security benefits as soon as reasonably possible after they become disabled. There are built-in waiting periods for both SSDI and SSI. For example, SSDI benefits may typically not begin until the sixth full month of disability.
The claims process for disability benefits is usually longer than for most other government benefits. You can help shorten the process by including with your application certain key information establishing your identity and medical condition. This key information includes:
*your social security number;
*military discharge papers, if applicable;
*spouse's social security number and birth certificate, if you are applying for spousal benefits;
*children's social security number(s) and birth certificate(s), if you are applying for children's benefits;
*checking and/or savings account information, to arrange direct deposit banking;
*names and contact information of all your health care providers;
*names and contact information of your current and past (last 15 years) employers; and
*recent W2 statements and income tax returns, if you have been self-employed.
You should also include the dates of any prior marriages, if applicable, should your spouse be applying for benefits.
All documents that you provide should be either originals or copies certified by the issuing entity. Because of the time frame involved in qualifying for benefits, you should not delay filing your application if you do not have all of the necessary paperwork handy.
If you are filing for SSI benefits, you need to establish your financial need through additional evidence, including:
*mortgage or lease information on your residence;
*payroll data, if applicable;
*insurance policies; and
In determining eligibility, the Social Security Administration will evaluate: 1) whether you are working; 2) if your disability is considered "severe;" 3) whether your condition is found on a designated list of disabling conditions; 4) whether your condition interferes with your ability to do the work you previously performed; and 5) whether you can do any other type of work.
If the agency awards SSDI or SSI benefits, it may also send you a "Ticket" to obtain optional employment-related services. Enacted in 2001, Ticket to Work is a purely voluntary program designed to provide vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other ongoing support. This program is open to recipients of disability benefits aged 18 to 65 in all 50 states.
A "Ticket" is an actual document that shows the government's promise to pay a so-called Employment Network for employment counseling and services. The Employment Network can be either a private organization or a public agency. The Network agency has the right to select whom it will serve based on both its assessments of the needs of the person involved and its ability to help this beneficiary achieve his or her employment goals. The Employment Network is paid by the government; the beneficiary receives its services free of charge.
The Ticket to Work program also offers participants work incentives. These incentives may include the ability to keep cash benefits and medical coverage while transitioning into the work place. Specific details and requirements are beyond the scope of this article, but may be obtained from the program's Operations Support Manager at the following toll free number: 1-866-968-7842.