Understanding the Ticket To Work Program

Understanding the Ticket To Work Program

The Ticket to Work program encourages disabled participants to gain financial independence and paid employment without losing access to critical healthcare and other benefits.

What Is the Program?

The Ticket to Work program (TTW) is a free and voluntary program enacted by Congress and established by the Social Service Administration (SSA) to help disabled participants return to the workplace.

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, enacted in 1999, enables workers with disabilities to access free employment services, empowering them to develop their careers and transition away from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

When entering the program, the disabled participants receive services like vocational rehabilitation, career counseling, on-the-job training, and placement services from the authorized TTW service providers.

The program participants can try working and earning as much as they want in the first year without losing their full SSDI benefits while receiving Medicare for up to 93 months.

If promoted, the TTW program can help individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 who receive SSDI benefits gain new financial opportunities, change workplaces, and tap into new routes of prosperity on many levels.

Eligibility and Enrollment Process

The Ticket to Work Program has specific eligibility requirements and steps to enroll.

TTW Eligibility

The Ticket to Work program is available to all people between 18 and 64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income Benefits(SSI) because of their disability.

Participation in the program is free and voluntary; however, you'll need an authorized service provider, such as a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR) or Employment Networks (EN), to verify your eligibility.

The service provider you choose will become an essential member of your "employment team," supporting you in gaining financial independence.

The Enrollment Process

To participate in the TTW program, you must verify your eligibility by calling the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). The customer service representatives will explain how the program works and address any of your concerns.

They will also provide a list of authorized service providers, or you can use the Find Help tool to get a customized list of providers.

Next, you need to choose a service provider. You can work with your State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR) or an Employment Network (EN), depending on your needs.

Worksheets are available to help you find an EN you are interested in. You can consider workforce ENs who are part of the state's public workforce system, which can offer additional employment support services like training programs for veterans and youth in transition.

You can also receive services from your VR agency and consider ongoing services from an Employment Network.

After choosing a service provider, you must collaborate to develop a plan to meet your financial goals. Your employment team will assist you in making progress toward gainful employment and a financially independent future.

Services and Benefits Offered

The Ticket to Work Program helps you gain employment in the following ways. You'll receive free assistance from your chosen service provider to prepare yourself to find and keep a job. In return, you pledge to the Social Service that you will take specific steps to:

  • Develop yourself by completing educational and training requirements; and,
  • Hold your employment at a particular earning level.

Participating in the TTW plan will allow you to work effectively with your chosen EN or VR to earn gainful employment while reducing your dependence on SSDI/SSI cash benefits.

The Ticket to Work Program allows you to take steps toward financial independence within the Social Security timeframe.

The program helps you make "timely progress" towards:

  • Receiving the training and education to develop yourself for a successful work career.
  • Helping you get employed and stay in it.
  • Reducing or eliminating your dependence on SSI/SSDI payments.
  • Earning your way out of cash benefits, if any.

Social Security will continue to review your medical condition to determine whether you still have a disability through the Medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR).


The Ticket to Work Program has enormous potential in helping motivated workers with disabilities get back into the economy. The program can address the ongoing labor shortage while reducing the burden on the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.