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Program Helps People With Disabilities Work Without Losing Income

Man With Down Syndrome Smiling While Making A Cake
Man With Down Syndrome Smiling While Making A Cake

People with disabilities who are able to work can derive a great deal of satisfaction from being productive members of society, but some are understandably concerned that what they earn on the job will mean deep cuts in their government sources of income.

According to an article from the nonprofit Special Needs Alliance, there is a program in place to prevent this, but navigating it can be tricky.

“Employment is an important road to independence and self-esteem,” begins the piece by Jefferey M. Yussman. “But some individuals with disabilities worry that accepting a job offer will disqualify them for means-tested benefits, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Income). Since such programs may be the bedrock of their financial security, what happens if the job doesn’t pan out? Will they be left without any source of income? Will their Medicaid or Medicare coverage disappear?

“The federal government has designed incentives for individuals with disabilities to explore career options, but the rules are complicated. Mistakes can mean that precious dollars are left on the table.”

Ticket to Work is the name of the federal approach to helping people with disabilities between 18 and 64 find employment while still protecting their benefits.

“The Social Security Administration maintains a list of authorized programs in each state that offer vocational training, career counseling, job referrals and other employment services,” the article states. “This includes school programs for students whose IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) include vocational programs.

“While an individual is receiving such assistance, Social Security suspends disability reviews, so all cash payments and Medicaid/Medicare coverage continue unchanged. Once an individual completes a Ticket to Work program, Social Security begins an assessment process to determine if continued cash benefits are appropriate.”

Yussman warns that Ticket to Work participants must pay strict attention to their monthly reporting of wages and SSDI payments.

“Clearly, there are many details to bear in mind when someone is balancing wages and public programs,’ the article concludes. “Special needs attorneys are well-versed in benefits law and can help self-advocates and families make the most of job opportunities without jeopardizing their health benefits and important sources of income.”

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