Employment can enrich the lives of people with disabilities by providing better financial security, and more fulfilling personal and social experiences. The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands this and knows that many people with disabilities who are seeking employment face unique barriers. To reduce some of these barriers, Social Security created the free and voluntaryTicket to Work (TTW) program that provides supports for individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits based on their specific needs and employment goals, as well as payments to organizations or employers who are assisting or employing them.
The SSA TTW program:
- Assists job seekers with disabilities to access services they may need to obtain or retain employment such as job coaching, counseling, training and placement as well as benefits counseling and other employment supports through SSA-approved employment service providers called ‘Employment Networks’ (ENs)
- Provides job seekers with disabilities financial supports called ‘work incentives’ that allow individuals to earn more (up to certain income levels), receive public benefits longer (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid) and, if needed, reinstate their benefits quicker
- Provides participating ENs such as community-based vocational rehabilitation providers, One-Stop Career Centers, and employers of individuals with disabilities ‘outcome payments’ as individuals achieve earning milestones from working
Individuals with disabilities often receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in the form of monthly payments from Social Security. Individuals between the ages of 18-64 who receive SSDI or SSI benefits are automatically eligible to participate in the TTW program. Under this program, individuals can connect with (“assign their ticket to”) an approved employment service provider (EN) of their choice. However, Social Security’s rules about working while receiving benefits are complex and often result in confusion, frustration and multiple questions around how working can and will impact public benefits.
One of the challenges for ENs under the TTW program is understanding the work rules and complexities of Social Security’s disability benefit programs. Another challenge for ENs is the significant amount of administrative resources it takes to manage and implement the TTW program, including but not limited to requesting and tracking payments from SSA. Many employment service providers and employers do not have the time, capacity or expertise to operate successfully as an EN, therefore, have decided not to participate in the program at all. As a result, they forego the SSA outcome payments that they could be drawing down through the program for the work they are already doing supporting and/or hiring individuals with disabilities. This is where Work Without Limits comes in!
Work Without Limits builds the capacity of employment service providers and employers to help advance the employment of people with disabilities. We fill niche needs that are not being filled by any other entity. In 2014, Work Without Limits recognized the educational and administrative challenges associated with the TTW program and created the Work Without Limits Administrative Employment Network (WWL AEN).
Here’s how it works …
For employment service providers, One-Stop Career Centers and employers
Through a simple Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), employment service providers, One Stop Career Centers, and employers can become partners in the WWL AEN. WWL AEN partners do what they have always done and continue to do, i.e., employ people with disabilities or support them to obtain and retain employment. With our technical assistance, our partners also identify and refer individuals to us that meet the specific criteria for the TTW program. What does WWL do? We manage all the technical and administrative aspects of the program up to and including drawing down payments from Social Security, which we then share with our AEN partners! We provide free:
- Comprehensive administrative support including verifying and enrolling eligible individuals with disabilities into the program, generating outcome payments, and all other requirements of the TTW program
- Expert, technical assistance and staff education regarding the WWL AEN referral process
- Expert, technical assistance and staff education regarding the impact of working on public benefits
- Ongoing support to eligible employees with disabilities, enhancing an employer’s overall benefits package and disability inclusive messaging
Our growing list of partnering organizations include:
The Bridge of Central Massachusetts
Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Franklin Hampshire Career Center
Viability (Formerly Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited)
To learn more about becoming a partner of the WWL AEN or making a referral, contact Peter Travisano, WWL AEN Program Manager.
For individual with disabilities eligible for the TTW program
The WWL AEN provides each person who enrolls in our AEN with long-term and intensive benefits counseling. We work with individuals every step of the way as they transition from being on public benefits to fully relying on income from work, which is the goal of the Ticket to Work program! The WWL AEN specializes in navigating the Social Security system, answering the complex questions that arise, and more!
For individuals, the WWL AEN provides free:
- Personalized, detailed, and long-term benefits counseling related to Social Security, health care benefits (Medicare and Medicaid), housing, SNAP and other public benefits before, during and after the transition to employment
- Creation of an Individualized Work Plan (IWP), an agreement regarding individual employment goals and the supports needed to attain those goals
- Social Security advocacy and support
For information regarding “assigning your ticket” (making a self-referral) to the WWL AEN, contact Barbara Lee, WWL AEN Intake Coordinator.