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What's the Ticket to Work Program?

Help for people on disability who want to return to work

Q. I've heard there's something called the Ticket to Work program for those of us getting disability benefits. Can you tell me more about it?

A. It's a Social Security program to help people who are on disability and want to return to work and become self-supporting. Participation is entirely voluntary.

If you're getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and you're between the ages of 18 to 64, you're probably eligible.

Basically, the program gives you free access to organizations that provide job counseling, vocational training and other services to help you develop skills you need to find and hold a job.

As an incentive to join, Social Security promises you won't lose your disability benefits if you take part — they'll only be cut if you go on to get a job and you exceed the earnings limits that apply to anyone on disability. While in the program, you can also continue to get health care benefits that you receive due to your disabled status, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

For more information, read this Social Security Administration Web page or call the Ticket to Work hotline, 866-968-7842 (voice) or 866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD), from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

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