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SSI recipients can return to work through Ticket to Work program

Work is a deep-rooted, defining aspect of people's lives, and when people are unable to work because of disability, then the struggle is not only monetary; it's emotional. People with disabilities want to work, but for whatever reason -- illness, injury, a mental condition -- they can't.

But there are ways for some Wisconsin residents who receive Social Security disability benefits to return to work. The Social Security Administration offers services through the Ticket to Work program, but not every recipient of SSDI or SSI benefits is aware of the available options.

For example, the SSA coordinates with groups on the state level to offer job-hunt training, including resume writing and interview practices. Social Security has rules regarding work incentives, which let disabled people continue to receive benefits and Medicare coverage while taking part in a trial work period. The purpose of this setup is to help recipients transition back into working while keeping the benefits they still need.

There is also the possibility of an "expedited reinstatement." This pertains to cases in which a person returns to work and Social Security payments stop. If, within five years, disability causes that person to have to stop working again, his or her benefits can be reinstated without having to be reapproved by the administration. In short, expedited reinstatement can be a major time-saver.

Another helpful work incentive is called the Plan to Achieve Self-Support, otherwise known as PASS. Under this plan, recipients of Social Security Income can agree to return to work and continue to receive SSI payments. Additional income that would usually lower the amount of those payments will not be included in the administration's calculations. That additional income can then be put aside to pay for things such as transportation, tools, training, child care, interview clothes, etc., that the SSI recipient needs to achieve a work goal.

Not everyone who needs disability payments is able to return to work, but the Ticket to Work program is there for some recipients who believe they can work again. To learn about all of the available options for receiving SSDI and SSI benefits, La Crosse-area residents are encouraged to consult with a legal professional with experience in disability claims.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, "Ticket to Work helps folks transition to jobs," Jan. 10, 2013

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