Ticket to Work Program

Overview and Eligibility

Ticket to Work is a federal program that helps adults with disabilities prepare for, find, and keep a job. To qualify for Ticket to Work, you must:

Ticket to Work, sometimes simply called the “Ticket program,” offers beneficiaries many choices on where they can get employment services and lets people try working without worrying about losing their health care coverage or affecting other disability benefits.

Note

The Ticket to Work program will issue you an actual ticket — a form that indicates that you’re eligible to use any of the services that the program supplies — but you don’t need it to get services. You can get started without it.

Whether you have the actual form or not, the program talks about your “ticket” like it was an actual ticket for a bus or train. You can assign it to an organization and you can unassign it. Your ticket can be active or inactive. Be aware of this when you’re talking to different organizations and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you get confused.

Employment services you may get through the Ticket program include:

The Ticket to Work program can help you increase your earned income and become more self-sufficient. If things go well, you can become more independent and less reliant on SSI and SSDI.

The Ticket to Work Program is:

How Does the Program Work?

If you get SSI or SSDI and are 18 to 64 years old, you automatically qualify for the Ticket to Work program. So when you feel prepared to think about employment and want to figure out what the best way to proceed is, there are a few ways to get started:

Employment Networks

Once you are all set up, you should contact an Employment Network (EN). ENs are organizations that can give you the various employment services that Ticket to Work offers.

You can only get services from one Employment Network at a time. That means you have to choose which EN you want to serve you — that’s called “assigning your ticket” to an EN. Once you assign the ticket and your chosen EN accepts it, you and your contact at the EN will develop a plan. The plan will include details about the services they will give you.

Choosing a Network

You can find an EN in your area by searching the Employment Network Directory. If you need additional help choosing an EN, you can:

Once you’ve found an EN that interests you, contact it to see if the services and supports it offers are right for you. ENs offer different services based on their specialties. Make sure to talk to a few because it’s important to find one that will be a good match for you.

Here are some things to think about and ask any Employment Network before you make up your mind:

  • Do they have any advice about your concerns related to working?
  • Do they have any specialties, such as job referrals, job placement assistance, or skills training?
  • How would they approach helping you get and keep a job, given your goals?
  • How will they help you keep your job once you start working?
  • How long will they offer services?
  • What do they require you to do as a partner in the process?

You are free to talk with as many Employment Networks as you like, and you don’t have to work with an EN simply because you have talked with them. If you find one you like, you can ask them to be your Ticket to Work Employment Network. They have the option to say no if they want. If an EN says they cannot work with you, ask them to recommend a different EN or other resource to help you meet your work goals.

If you choose an Employment Network, begin to work with them, and later are unhappy with their services, you can always change to a different EN. How to change ENs is explained here.

Ticket to Work and the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (AZRSA)

The Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (AZRSA) is also a Ticket to Work Employment Network. You may consider the vocational rehabilitation (VR) services it offers and compare them to those offered by other ENs. However, like any other EN, you may only assign your Ticket to either AZRSA or another EN, not both at the same time. If you already have an open case with AZRSA, you can’t assign your ticket to another EN.

If you have a disability and don’t qualify for Ticket to Work because you don’t get SSI or SSDI, you may still qualify to get employment services through AZRSA. Those services are explained in more detail here.

Creating Your Work Plan

When you and an Employment Network have agreed to work together, you will jointly develop a work plan that clearly states the responsibilities you and your EN have to help you achieve your work goals.

Your plan should contain at least the following:

  • Your employment goals (the type of work you want to do)
  • All services your EN agrees to give you and how they will be delivered to you
  • What you have to do to continue to receive services
  • 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

Once you and your EN sign the plan, your ticket is assigned to that EN and services can begin immediately.

Self-Employment

You can also use the Ticket to Work program to help you become self-employed or to start your own business. If you are interested in pursuing a self-employment goal, you need to tell potential Employment Networks about your goal, because not all ENs will have experience with helping people who want to become self-employed. It is important to find an EN that has the resources to help you meet your goal.

Changing Employment Networks

If at any point you are not happy with the services your Employment Network (EN) is giving you, you can find a different Employment Network. To change ENs, ask your Employment Network to have your ticket “unassigned.”

For more detailed information about unassigning your ticket:

After you unassign your ticket, you have 3 months to find another EN and create a new work plan that better meets your needs. If you don’t find an EN within 3 months, you’ll be subject to a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) with Social Security according to your regular schedule. To read more about CDRs, click here.

If You Have to Stop Working

Once your Employment Network helps you find a job, they won’t abandon you. Their services will continue to be available to help you keep your job and do well at it.

If you stop working for any reason, your EN will help you find another job or explore other options. They’ll also help you get back onto your benefits if you need to do so.

What is MAXIMUS?

Ticket to Work is a publicly-funded program, but it is operated by a private company named MAXIMUS.

Since you will usually be communicating directly with your Employment Network, you probably won’t hear much about MAXIMUS. However, if you communicate directly with the Ticket program, for example by calling the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or by using the Ticket to Work website, you may see or hear the name MAXIMUS.

How Will Using a Ticket Affect Your Benefits?

The Ticket to Work program was designed so that you don’t have to worry about losing your benefits before you’re ready. While you are using the Ticket program:

  • You will not automatically lose your disability benefits
  • You will not get a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
  • You can continue to get public health care benefits
  • You can easily return to benefits if you stop working
Delay of Continuing Disability Reviews

Part of the adult definition of disability used by Social Security is that you be unable to work. Many people worry that if they try to get a job, Social Security will decide they are able to work and will take away their benefits. One of the provisions of the Ticket program is that as long as you are in it, Social Security will not decide you aren’t disabled.

That’s because Social Security won’t make you do a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) while you’re participating in the Ticket program.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you are on SSI or SSDI and not doing the Ticket program, Social Security will review your medical disability status on a regular basis to see if you still meet their medical eligibility rules for disability benefits. During these Continuing Disability Reviews, if they decide that you are not disabled according to the rules, you could lose your benefits.
  • If you are doing the Ticket to Work program, Social Security will stop your medical disability reviews for as long as you are working towards your employment goal. You can even get a job and start earning money and they still won’t review your disability status.
The great thing about the Ticket program is that it means that if you don’t get a job or if your job doesn’t go well, you won’t lose your eligibility for disability benefits such as SSI, SSDI, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) coverage, or Medicare.

To learn more details about the Ticket program, read DB101's article on Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program.

Keep in mind that, as a Ticket to Work participant, any other SSI or SSDI work incentives still apply to you. You can read more about other work incentives on the Other Work Incentives page.