Social Security and Returning to Work

If you are receiving disability benefits, we have good news for you! Social Security’s work incentives and Ticket to Work programs can help if you are interested in working. Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. The rules for returning to work are different for the beneficiaries of SSI and SSDI, so be sure to make the distinctions when applying for benefits.

Who is Eligible

Anyone currently receiving SSI or SSDI payments is eligible for the employment support that these programs provide.

Why Apply

Congress intended the employment support provisions (SSI/SSDI) to provide people with the assistance needed to move from benefit dependency to independence. Employment supports help you to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce by protecting your eligibility for cash payments and/or health care until you achieve this goal.

To Apply For

Call The Social Security Administration's Work Program at 1-866-968-7842, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call SSA's TTY number, 1-866-833-2967. 

You also can visit the SSA's website at for more information.

Read More

The SSDI employment supports provide help over a long period of time to allow you to test your ability to work (or to continue working) and gradually become self-supporting and independent. In general, you have at least 9 years to test your ability to work. This includes full cash payments during the first 12 months of work activity, a 36-month re-entitlement period during the extended period of eligibility, and a 5-year period in which we can start your cash benefits again without a new application. You may continue to have Medicare coverage during this time or even longer.

The SSI employment supports offer ways for you to continue receiving your SSI checks and/or Medicaid coverage while you work. Some of these provisions can increase your net income to help cover special expenses. These include continuing SSI payments until your income reaches the allowable limit in your state, expedited reinstatement should you lose your job, and provisions to pay for work related expenses. 

Once you receive SSI, the SSA considers that your disability continues until you medically recover, even if you work. If you cannot receive SSI checks because your earnings are too high, your eligibility for Medicaid may continue while you are working. In most cases, if you lose your job or are unable to continue working, you can begin receiving checks again without filing a new application.

Links to Important Resources

For SSA Work Incentives, visit SSA's online guide Working While Disabled-How We Can Help

Topics: Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, Work Incentives
Tags: Work Incentive, Social Security, Disabled Workers
Last updated June 22, 2015

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