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Has anyone used SSDI's "Ticket to Work" program to return to work?

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by GypsyGirl, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. GypsyGirl

    GypsyGirl

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    I'm on disability (finally, after 3 years of denials and appeals). I'm also reaching the point where I think I could work from home about 10 hours a week.

    Has anyone used the "Ticket to Work" program that SSDI keeps advertising? If so, what kind of work did you do, for how long, what did you need to get started, what were your impressions of the program/work you were in?

    Any info you might have is helpful. I don't know a single person in "real life" that has used this program.

    Many thanks!
     
    belize44 likes this.
  2. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    If you plan to make under $710/mo, I don't think you need to look into it, but maybe someone else can confirm this.
     
  3. actup

    actup Senior Member

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    @GypsyGirl, please consider very carefully. How much improvement have you experienced and for how long? Working 10 hrs/wk could easily turn into more w all of the brain fog etc that comes and goes or never leaves.

    In retrospect I realize I was putting in many extra unpaid hours due to fatigue, difficulty w concentration and severe PEM during my last three years of employment.

    On the other hand working from home w no commute time might conserve enough energy to be workable especially if you can make more than your ssdi payout. This nyt article is from 2011- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/business/economy/07disabled.html?_r=0

    You probably already do this but I usually google the word 'problems' after topics like this which brings up tons of info. Best of luck!
     
  4. geraldt52

    geraldt52 Senior Member

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    Not that I've been able to work since getting SSDI, but in all my dealings with Soc Sec they never gave me any reason to trust them that their "Ticket to Work' program would not be used as a way to deny my disability. To the contrary, after a 7 year fight to get my first check, I would never trust a single thing they said, or even consider a single thing they offered. It was always very clear whose interest they were looking out for, and it wasn't mine.
     
  5. GypsyGirl

    GypsyGirl

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    Thank you guys.

    @SickOfSickness - in previous research, I found it was recommended that any income be reported. The Ticket to Work program has some specific requirements, which naturally, are confusing. Best I can tell is that if I make over $810 a month (some sources say $1130 for a non-blind person), you then have a 9 month trial work period where if you CONTINUE to make that much a month, you'll lose SSDI (those months can also be non-successive). Yet there's no limit on how much OVER $810 a month you can make. So there's some incentive there for waiting until one is able to return full-time to a good job and collect both. Not applicable to me really, because I'm not ready for full-time work.

    @actup I've definitely considered the questions you ask. I do feel I'm stabilized enough to work a FEW (5-10 hours, broken up) hours each week. I'd guess some weeks would be better than others, so I need flexibility. I have to work from home, because I'm doing a companion exchange-for-rent and essentially have a 9-5 job for a place to live. But it's not enough to cover living expenses and medical care. I HAVE to consider finding some work, somehow.

    @geraldt52 Not much to add, just I agree very strongly with the points you make.
     
    actup likes this.
  6. Jennifer J

    Jennifer J Senior Member

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    I have two friends that have used it. I don't have all the details. My one friend has been using it for years, and has had no problem.

    My other friend, it left him in an awful place, they cut off his disability payments, and he wasn't well enough to continue working part-time after all. Left him in a horrible place. We lost touch over the years, not sure how he's doing now.

    As, Gerald, I too had a 7 year fight to get my first check. I agree with @geraldt52:

     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
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  7. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    To me from your post, I dont think you are really ready to be working but want to do this out of desperation. I suggest to not even take this route at this point of time, obviously you are still terribly ill if you only think you can only work a few hours a week.

    It was cause I approached a disability job centre and got put onto a contact for them to help me gain some form of part time work (i wanted between 6-8 hrs at first per week but I then got sicker) that I ended up much worst. and once they'd got me to sign things to say I was going to be doing that, I was screwed. This was years ago and I havent recovered from that.

    Im in a different country to you but all these gov places work similar and will not keep your best interests at heart but are likely to end up trying to get a person to work more and more to try to get them off their disability payments. (like start testing to see how much they can push someone to do).

    Saying you are capable now of possibly some work could also cause someone to risk being reassessed if a government dept thinks your condition may have changed or be changing some. Reassessment can be esp risky to those of us who have ME/CFS as you never know what the next assessor may be like and Ive found that ones who dont believe in ME/CFS much often work in these depts.

    You may end up risking all you have now by doing this esp since we have condition which in many eyes isnt viewed nicely
     
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  8. GypsyGirl

    GypsyGirl

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    @Jennifer J - do you happen to know/mind sharing what illness your friends have (who worked with SSDI's program)? I ask because I feel like it's trickier to explain recovery from complex weird illness than if I had, say, relapsing MS. (On paper. To the government.)

    @taniaaust1 - I hear what you're saying, and that program not having best interests at heart is my motivation for posting here asking for more info.

    I've made slow, steady, definite progress, and I would be fine working 5-10 hours a week under certain conditions (like if I had some control over what hours I could work, and from home where I could move about/lie down as needed). I understand I'd burn out fast working a standard 8 hour shift. And that explaining these subtleties (again - on paper, to the government) is quite difficult.

    Is anyone working a bit NOT thru SSDI's ticket to work program? Are there advantages to finding p/t work on your own (of not under-the-table/regularly taxed work)?
     
    Jennifer J likes this.
  9. caledonia

    caledonia

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    There are two dollar amounts
    a) Trial Work Period (TWP) - $810
    b) Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) - $1130 (unless you're blind, then it's higher)

    You want to keep it below both of these amounts. If you get above the SGA amount, they will consider that you're no longer disabled and cut off benefits. If you get above the TWP amount, they will consider that you're trying to return to full time work. If you go past 9 months over 5 years, they will cut off benefits.

    "We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period."
    https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/twp.html

    "To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA."
    https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html

    It's my impression that Ticket to Work jobs are mainly customer service work from home. So that means being on the phone for hours and possibly dealing with nasty people from time to time. I knew a quadriplegic guy who did this.

    This link says customer services, tech support, sales and other.
    http://www.ntiathome.org/work-at-home-jobs-positions.shtm

    Nowadays some companies are replacing phone support with chat support, so I guess that is a possibility too. Less chance of people getting angry and going off on you I think.
     
    GypsyGirl likes this.
  10. Jennifer J

    Jennifer J Senior Member

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    Hi, @GypsyGirl. I don't mind at all. This first friend, I'm not going to be as precise as I like cause it was 5 years ago and my memory isn't that good. He has Hep C with lots of complications. His liver was in bad shape. He wasn't doing well. He did the ticket to work, they cut off his disability, and he wasn't able to continue working like he wanted to.

    My other friend she has Fibro and ME/CFS. She's the one that has been able to work part time for years. She's an artist and gets contracts.

    Good luck. I haven't been able to read all of your thread. I hope it works out for you. :)
     
    GypsyGirl likes this.
  11. K2 for Hope

    K2 for Hope ALways Hoping

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    Just an FYI, if you state that you can work part time, yes, they say that you can "fast track" to your disability payments again, but you then have "re-prove" that you are disabled.

    Read about some people that tried this. One guy tried, couldn't do it, then they reopened his case and determined that he was never completely disabled in the first place. He now owes all of his back pay, cannot prove his current disability, according to their new rules and is in a really bad place. Just be aware.

    If it was difficult before, imagine what it will be like once you state that you can work part time and then "change" your mind. It's not about fair, it's about saving the government money.

    Search about people that have tried. What they explain in their pamphlets is not reality.

    I know it's difficult to live on ssdi, but what if you have to rehire a lawyer and redo your entire claim... and don't get approved....
     
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  12. TrixieStix

    TrixieStix Senior Member

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    I have a friend on SSDI for mental health issues who did "ticket to work" or something similar. She went from not working at all to working full time for over a year making enough $ that she no longer was getting any monthly SSDI $. Eventually her illness forced her to stop working, and her SSDI monthly checks were reinstated immediately with just a phone call to SSDI informing them she was no longer working. I too am on SSDI.
     
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  13. geraldt52

    geraldt52 Senior Member

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    There's the crux of the matter. I'm sure, just given the general incompetence of Soc Sec, that different people have different outcomes when they've gone back to some sort of work and then later feel that they can no longer work. The question is, do you want to trust Soc Sec to reinstate your benefits? Because they'll decide, not you. Everyone at Soc Sec that I had contact with over 7 years, and everything that they did, would lead me to emphatically say DON'T TRUST THEM. But everyone has to decide for themselves if it's worth the risk.
     
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  14. K2 for Hope

    K2 for Hope ALways Hoping

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    I guess a lot depends on what you are claiming as your illness. I have "CFS" (they don't call it ME/CFS), arthritis, chronic kidney disease, fibromyalgia, IBS, skin cancer (melanoma, so far treated with surgery and over 200 skin punches), depression and a "few" other issues. It took over 1 1/2 yrs with a lawyer handling the case for them to realize that maybe I really couldn't work at a "sedentary" job reliably. My "counselor" for depression expressed that it was NOT depression that led me to become disabled but that the multiple health issues led me to depression.

    On the other hand, the disability ins I paid for said I "could" work at a sedentary job if I really wanted to and after over 2 1/2 yrs and multiple Dr's who specialized in my illnesses and sent magnitudes of paperwork, I had to settle for a very small fraction of what I was supposed to get. Lost my health ins, my life ins and the lawyer pocketed 40%.

    So, it just depends on what you are willing to take for a risk...
     
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