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For People with Disabilities, There’s a “Ticket” to Work!

Today, more than 13 million working-age people in the U.S. receive Social Security disability benefits. That’s almost one in every 15 adults. I know firsthand that for these individuals, finding and maintaining work can be particularly challenging, especially in today’s economy. For those who have considered returning to work or trying work for the first time, they may have questions like: Am I able to work? Who would hire me? What about job accommodations? How will work affect my disability benefits? If you’re a Social Security disability beneficiary, age 18 through 64, and thinking about work, these are important questions. The good news is that the Ticket to Work program is here to help!

What is Ticket to Work?

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program is a free and voluntary program that offers people who receive disability benefits improved access to meaningful employment. It provides the choices, opportunities, and support needed to find and maintain work and achieve greater financial independence. The program, with the help of special rules called Work Incentives, may allow participants to keep some of their benefits while they gain work experience.

Can I use the “Ticket”?

You already qualify and can participate in Ticket to Work if:

  • You are age 18 through 64 and,
  • You receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

How can I get started?

  • Register for a free Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) Webinar, which provides an overview of Ticket to Work and Work Incentives, and answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) to get more information from a customer service representative.
  • Use the Find Help Tool to locate an Employment Network or Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.
  • Learn about real people who used their “Ticket” to find work and achieve financial independence in our success stories!

Going to work, meeting new people, and pursuing a career can greatly enhance your quality of life. The Ticket to Work program takes commitment, but the effort can be very rewarding. If you are interested in changing your life through work, or you know someone who is, explore your options through Social Security’s Ticket to Work program. It could be the best decision you ever make!

How to Get Quick Approval for Certain Disability Claims

The Social Security Administration provides long-term disability benefits to U.S. workers who are unable to work for more than 12 months due to a physical, mental or emotional medical condition.

Although evaluating each case might take several months or even years, Social Security can fast-track the process for some cases if they fall under its Compassionate Allowances Program.

This is an initiative designed to streamline the process so that applicants can quickly receive benefits for conditions that are known to cause severe or life-threatening disabilities.

How it Works

The Social Security Administration (SSA) introduced the Compassionate Allowances Program in 2008 with about 50 diseases and conditions, including certain cancers. Today, the has grown to a little more than 100 conditions, including adult brain disorders and immune system conditions, and by the summer of 2012 it is expected to grow to 165.

“These are diseases that are so severe that we do not need to obtain the applicant’s complete work history in order to make a decision, and therefore the process is quicker,” said Diana Varela, a spokesperson for the agency in Washington DC.

SSA is constantly evaluating new conditions to add to the list. You can see most updated version of the diseases and conditions in the Compassionate Allowances Program on the SSA website.

How to Apply

The process to apply for the Compassionate Allowances Program is the same as applying for general disability benefits. However, if the SSA determines that a condition qualifies for the Compassionate Allowances Program, the approval process is much quicker.

You can apply for disability benefits online without having to go to a Social Security office. Generally, you will need to provide the following information:

  • General information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, as well as those of your spouse and underage children. Also, you need to provide your bank account information and an additional contact in case you cannot be reached.
  • Medical information such as name, address and telephone numbers of doctors, clinics and hospitals where you receive treatment, as well as your employer’s information. Also, the name of the medicines you have taken and medical history, among other things.

How to Get More Information

To find out more information about Social Security benefits visit or call (800) 772-1213.