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Ticket to Work program improves finances, self-esteem

Those who currently receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security disability benefits and wish to return to the work force may be in luck.

The Ticket to Work program has been around for more than a decade, but many disability beneficiaries may not know about it. It allows those who receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits to undergo an evaluation of potential future employment.

The program is open to those who receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits and are between 18- and 64-years-old. They receive a ticket in the mail and may use it with an employment network. Employment networks offer career counseling, training, job search assistance and vocational rehabilitation.

One man suffered from a low sense of self-worth after severe arthritis and a knee injury prompted him to start collecting disability benefits. The man chose to use the ticket he received in the mail to return to work. He still receives health care and benefits, but he can also work and supplement his income.

His new employer was so impressed with his industry experience and skills that he received a raise and a promotion. He is now less worried about finances, and his Medicare coverage may extend 8.5 years after his disability payments end. For this man, the program offered him not only financial assistance but also an increased sense of self-worth.

Those who have received work tickets in the mail may explore the options within the employment network and decide whether going back to work is the right thing to do in their situation.

Source: Frost Illustrated, "People with disability can get ticket to work," Chuck Stovall, Sept. 7, 2011

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