Some people in Missouri may think that spending time away from the workplace is usually relaxing, for example, if a person takes a vacation. However, some people must exit the workplace for very unpleasant reasons — because they have an illness or injury that is so severe that it prevents them from working for a year or more, or is projected to be fatal. This type of leave from work is anything but pleasant.
Some people in such situations receive Social Security Disability benefits to help them cope financially when they cannot work. While this is certainly helpful, not everyone wants to stay out of the workforce permanently, especially if they enjoy their job or want to become independent. However, they may be afraid that they will lose their SSD benefits if they go back to work. The Social Security Administration wants to encourage beneficiaries to return to work, and therefore has enacted the Ticket to Work program.
Through the Ticket to Work program, there is a nine-month trial work period in which a person who receives SSD benefits will continue to receive such benefits while they test out going back to work. In addition, once the trial work period is up, a person will still receive benefits for three months. They will also receive benefits in the 33 months following the three-month period if their income falls below a certain level.
If a person in the program is making “timely progress” the SSA will not review the person’s medical condition, unless a Continuing Disability Review is already scheduled. In addition, if a person goes back to work, but at some point within the five years following their first day back at work finds that their disability still prevents them from being able to work, they can request their benefits be reinstated without needing to file a new SSD claim.
As this shows, both disabled individuals and the SSA have a vested interest in returning to the workforce if possible. The Ticket to Work program allows these individuals to test the waters of going back to work without immediately losing their benefits. This may encourage more SSD beneficiaries to re-enter the workforce so they can earn an income that allows them to support themselves.