December 22, 2011 Leave a comment
Several images come to mind when I think of tickets: A multitude of parking tickets left on my windshield; concert tickets for some amazing (and some awful) memories of live music; and baseball tickets for summer nights at the ballpark.
At NEBA, when someone mentions tickets they are usually referring to a program of the Social Security Administration called “Ticket to Work”. In this program, tickets are sent to individuals with disabilities when they begin receiving SSI or SSDI disability insurance payments. With their ticket, recipients are able to retain the services of a registered employment network (EN) to help them return to work.
An EN is a private organization (can be a for-profit or nonprofit), government agency, or employer that has agreed to work with the Social Security Administration to provide employment services. When a ticket is assigned to NEBA, we meet with the ticket holder to set goals and develop an employment work plan. The plan helps to determine the work timeline, training needs, and income goals and requirements.
Because a disability check can be one of the few constants in an individual’s (or even a family’s) income, the prospect of losing this benefit can be frightening. The Ticket to Work program is designed to reduce this fear by allowing each ticket holder to return to work for a trial work period. During this time, they are able to determine their ability to consistently achieve a monthly income benchmark while still receiving full disability benefits. If they consistently meet the benchmark, they will be able to earn more money and improve their financial stability. If they are unable to consistently meet the minimum income requirements, they are able to retain their disability benefits.
The Ticket to Work program is also beneficial to our economy. When someone in their 20s or 30s returns to work and permanently stops receiving their disability benefit checks, taxpayers save at least $500,000. The government benefits from increased tax revenue, and employers benefit from the expanded pool of qualified candidates.
We’re all very quick to get on the government’s case when they do something wrong, but we should also give credit when the government produces a beneficial program such as Ticket to Work.
- Eric Fiedler, NEBA Outreach & Development Coordinator