Finding a job when you have a disability – whether the disability is from birth or an accident is an overwhelming experience. There is so much to consider. Can the person physically work? Mentally are they up to the task? And financially can they do it especially if that means losing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)? Fortunately, there is a program called Ticket To Work and it solely exists for situations like these! The Ticket To Work program helps people with disabilities between the ages from 18 to 64 prepare for and enter the workforce. This can include defining job skills, preparing for interviews, and preparing for work life.
While most people are more than eager to gain financial independence, some are nervous about losing their SSDI. It is a valid concern; however, steps are taken so that the transition happens slowly. It is broken down into two phases.
Phase One, or what is commonly referred to as the Trial Work Period, takes place over a 9 month period. During this time frame, the participant can make as much money as they want and still keep their benefits. If employment continues longer than 9 months, they will enter into phase Two.
Phase Two is known as Extended Period of Eligibility. It is at this point that some benefits could be taken away. As of 2019 and in the state of Indiana, a person can make $1,220 a month without having any of their benefits decreasing. However, even if the earnings were about the allotted amount, a participant may be able to keep more of their benefits if some of the wages were used to pay some health expenses out of pocket. Think of it this way: normally people have deductibles they have to meet before their health insurance assists with their medical bills. The same holds true in this scenario.
With the Ticket To Work program implemented, it has made working a reality for so many people with disabilities. Take David for example. As a young adult, he was the ideal young man. As a college student, he was taking classes and had a job in the automotive industry. One night the car he was servicing got rear-ended at a high speed by a drunk driver. The event pinned David between the car and the truck. As a result, his body was crushed and both legs had to be amputated above the knee.
During the recovery process, David remembered thinking, “I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I had to learn how to be who I was again.” In time, he started receiving Social Security disability benefits, but he wanted to resume life and re-enter the workforce. He found a local organization called Ability360 that assisted David with creating his resume again and gave him benefit counseling. In December of 2011 he interviewed and was offered a job at Aqua Science, a water misting and solar-heated pool company. His initial position was that of a scheduler, but over time and a lot of hard work, he advanced in the company and is currently the Operations Project Manager. He works directly with the sales and service team to ensure the drivers and technicians know where they need to be each and every day.
Having a disability is challenging in so many different ways, but in general life is challenging. Just because a person has a disability should not mean work is unobtainable. It should be the opposite. Working and earning a living is good for anyone, so embrace the challenges! Organizations exist with the knowledge to assist with anything from discovering the person’s talents to refining interview skills to ultimately knowing how a person’s benefits will fit in the “big picture”. With those kinds of resources, it should be a person’s right and responsibility to be like anyone else to be gainfully employed and live life to the fullest!
The Fifth Freedom Network