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Social Security: Social Security can help you start or return to work
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Social Security: Social Security can help you start or return to work

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If you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and want to start or return to work, we can help.

Ticket to Work (Ticket) is a program that supports career development for SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients who want to work and progress toward financial independence. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. Learn more about the Ticket to Work program at www.ssa.gov/work or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Ticket to Work program, the Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) program also helps people with disabilities return to work. A PASS allows you to set aside resources and other income besides your SSI for a specified period. With a PASS you can pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate your need for SSI or SSDI benefits.

How does a PASS help someone return to work?

• We base SSI eligibility and payment amounts on income and resources (items of value that the person owns).

• PASS lets a person with a disability set aside money and items they own to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal.

• The objective of the PASS is to help people with disabilities find employment that reduces or eliminates the need for SSI or SSDI benefits.

You can read all about the PASS program at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf.

The PASS must be in writing and we must approve the plan. To start, contact your local PASS Cadre or local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK). You can also access the form at www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-545.html. Ticket to Work service providers, vocational counselors, or a representative or relative can help you write a PASS.

For more information about PASS, read The Red Book - A Guide to Work Incentives at www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or the beginning step to fulfilling your dreams. Let our Ticket to Work program or PASS program help you achieve your goals.

Disability Q&A: 

Q: I just received my first disability payment. How long will I continue to get them?

A: In most cases, you will continue to receive benefits as long as you are disabled. However, there are certain circumstances that may change your continuing eligibility for disability benefits. For example, one of the following may apply:

• Your health may improve to the point where you are no longer disabled.

• Like many people, you would like to go back to work rather than depend on your disability benefits and you are successful in your attempt.

Also, the law requires that we review your case from time to time to verify you are still disabled. We tell you if it is time to review your case, and we also keep you informed about your benefit status. You also should be aware that you are responsible for letting us know if your health improves or you go back to work.

Q: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?

A: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov/disability.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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