Are There Any Programs That Help People Receiving Disability Benefits Return to Work?

If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has work incentives programs that can help you go back to work. These work incentives include:

  • Continued cash benefits for a period of time while you work;
  • Continued Medicare or Medicaid for a period of time while you work; and
  • Help with education, training and vocational rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

For more information about Social Security’s work incentives read “Working While Disabled – How We Can Help.”

Ticket to Work

SSA’s Ticket to Work (TTW) program helps people who receive SSDI or SSI return to work, or begin working if they’ve never done so. Anyone ages 18 to 64 who receives SSDI or SSI benefits because of his or her disability is eligible to participate. For more information about the TTW program call 1-866-968-7842 (TTY: 1-866-833-2967) Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern Time, or search for help in your state on the ChooseWork website. You may also want to watch this YouTube video about the TTW program or register for a free Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) webinar. WISE webinars are online events for people who receive Social Security disability benefits and are thinking about going back to work.

What Is a Trial Work Period?

SSA’s trial work period allows you to test your ability to work while still receiving your full Social Security benefits for at least nine months.

During the trial work period, you will receive SSI and SSDI your full benefit amount, no matter how much you earn, as long as you report your work activity and continue to have a disability. In 2016, a trial work month is any month in which a person’s total earnings are over $810. For people who are self-employed, a trail work month is any month in which a person earns more than $810 after expenses or works more than 80 hours. The trial work period continues until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period. If you’re able to work after this time period, your benefits will eventually stop.

What is the Extended Period of Eligibility?

After the trial work period, you have 36 months during which you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings are not what SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). For 2016, you can earn up to $1,130 a month ($1,820 for people who are blind) without losing your benefits.

SSI Employment Supports

SSA also offers employment supports specifically for people who receive SSI. Examples of these include the Earned Income Exclusion, the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) and Medicaid While Working.

For more information visit’s “Working while Receiving Social Security Benefits” section.

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Return to’s Guide to Employment or’s Guide to Disability Benefits.