Social Security's Ticket to Work Program Can Jeopardize Disability Benefits

June 03,2008
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The New York Times published an article last week on programs that the Social Security Administration has in place to help people receiving Social Security Disability return to work.
While the Ticket to Work program has been in place for many years, I remain hesitant advising my clients to participate in the program unless they are confident that they can work and are willing to risk their Disability benefits.
As the Times article reports, employees of the Social Security Administration are ignorant about the program and how it might impact on a beneficiary’s monthly benefits. I would hate for a client to misunderstand the notice and return to work, only to trigger a review of his or her claim due to that work activity. While I know that the Ticket to Work program is specifically designed to avoid triggering a Continuing Disability Review based on work activity, I also know that all it takes is one erroneous computer entry related to that work to initiate that review, thus jeopardizing much needed Disability benefits.
Although a benefits recipient may continue to get SSD benefits while earning about $1000 per month working, it’s much more complicated than that. I would advise any Disability Benefits recipient who receives a Ticket to Work to think hard about taking SSA up on their “offer” and to seek guidance from a qualified advisor, whether a work counselor or an attorney.
Gabriel J. Hermann, Esq.