Social Security's Ticket to Work Program

Work Plan and Progress

The Roadmap to Employment

You and your Employment Network (EN) will work together to develop an Individual Work Plan (IWP). Your IWP will contain the following information:

  • Your employment goals, including the type of work you want to do
  • All services your EN will offer
  • Your responsibilities working toward your goals
  • What you can do if you are not satisfied with your EN or your plan
  • How you can change your plan if you need to

Your plan begins when you and the EN’s representative sign it. There is no waiting period and no approval required from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you choose to work with the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), you will have an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) instead of an IWP. Both serve the same purpose — they outline your employment goals and offer a plan of action for reaching these goals.

Timely Progress

You Must Stay On Track and On Time

If you participate in the Ticket to Work Program, you must make timely progress towards reaching your employment goals — that is, you must follow your work plan and meet deadlines specified by the program. As long as you follow your work plan, you will not be subject to a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) by Social Security. The Ticket to Work rules changed the requirements for timely progress in 2008. If you were using your Ticket prior to July 21, 2008, contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TDD) for information on the requirements that apply to you.

The Ticket to Work Program defines timely progress this way in the first year. You must:

  • Complete 3 months of work with gross earnings of at least $940 per month, or
  • Complete your high school diploma or the equivalent, or
  • Complete 60% of a full-time course load for an academic year in a college or technical/trade/vocational training program, or
  • Complete some combination of this work and education requirement.

Gabriela got her Ticket from the SSA and has worked out a plan with her EN. She is working part-time while also going to school full-time to become a veterinarian technician. Every month she earns $500, which is less than the required $940 but combined with her school time, she qualifies as performing timely progress and can keep working towards her goal without being subject to CDRs.

Reviewing Your Progress

At the end of each 12-month period that you are working with your EN and using your Ticket, the Ticket to Work Program will do a timely progress review. The review will check if you have fulfilled the timely progress requirements of the last 12 months. If so, then you are fine and can continue to use your Ticket. If not, then your Ticket will remain active and you can continue with your plan, but you will lose the CDR protections until you meet the timely progress requirements. Not meeting timely progress status does not automatically trigger a medical CDR. Social Security decides when to do a medical CDR based on a number of factors. If you disagree with the decision about your timely progress, you can request an SSA review of the decision within 30 days. While waiting for the SSA review, you will be exempt from CDRs. While you continue to work on your employment goals, if you make timely progress, your CDR protections will be reinstated.

The requirements for timely progress go up each year. In the second year you must:

  • Work 6 months with gross monthly earnings over $940 each month, or
  • Complete 75% of a full-time course load in a college, trade school, or vocational training program.

In the 3rd year, you must:

  • Work and earn more than $1,310 in at least 9 months of the 12, or
  • Complete a full year of college, trade school, or vocational school.

To see the complete timely progress requirements for each year in the Ticket to Work Program, see Social Security’s guidelines.

In-Use Tickets and Inactive Status

If you are temporarily unable to work toward the employment goals in your Ticket to Work Individual Work Plan because of health difficulties, or if you have an approved IPE with the Rehabilitation Services Administration, you can contact the Ticket to Work Program and ask them to put your Ticket on hold by placing it in inactive status.

When you are able to resume working or attending school, contact the Ticket to Work Program to reactivate your Ticket (switch it back to in-use status).

While your Ticket is in inactive status, you do not have to meet the timely progress requirements. Also, any months in which your Ticket is in inactive status do not count toward the 12-month period for assessing your timely progress. When you reactivate your Ticket, you can start again where you left off in the 12-month period without penalty. In other words, you will not lose credit for previous work you did to accomplish your work goals.


In the first 12-month period of using his Ticket, Tyler was doing great. There were 2 months in which he earned at least $940 per month. After this work effort, he asked to place his Ticket in inactive status because his health was starting to decline.

After his health got better, Tyler asked to reactivate his Ticket several months later because he started to work again. The Ticket to Work Program considered the next month, when Tyler had at least $940 in earnings, as his 3rd month of work in his first 12 months of using the Ticket to Work Program.

After this 3rdmonth of paid work, Tyler meets the timely progress requirement of working at least 3 months and earning at least $940 per month.

Remember, Social Security will not do medical CDR when your Ticket is active (in use); that is, when you are working on your employment goals with the help of your assigned EN (or with Rehabilitation Services Administration). When you reactivate your Ticket, your protection from CDRs will resume.

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