Back to work

Pennsylvania is among a group of 17 states and four U.S. territories where a Social Security Administration program designed to allow people with disabilities to go back to work goes into effect this month.

The Ticket to Work program is voluntary, according to the Social Security Administration, and is designed to eliminate the barriers for individuals on disability who want to work.

One major obstacle was eliminated by the legislation signed into law in 1999. Social Security disability beneficiaries are protected by Medicare for at least eight years and six months after they go to work, and coverage continues even if an individual no longer receives a monetary benefit from Social Security. Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries can remain eligible for Medicaid even if their cash payments stop.

Starting this month, 390,000 Social Security disability and SSI recipients in the state will receive a “Ticket,” an authorization to obtain vocational rehabilitation, job training and other support services.

Individuals who want to re-enter the work force can work with an employment network, comprised of public service agencies or private companies, to design an individual employment plan that outlines the services to be provided to assist the beneficiary in reaching an employment goal.

Employment networks are reimbursed for their services by successfully assisting a beneficiary in reaching self-sufficiency.