By Deborah Banikowski
If you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and want to start or return to work, we can help.
Ticket to Work (ticket) is a program that supports career development for SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients who want to work and progress toward financial independence. The ticket program is free and voluntary. Learn more about the Ticket to Work program at www.ssa.gov/work or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
In addition to the Ticket to Work program, the Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) program also helps people with disabilities return to work. A PASS allows you to set aside resources and other income besides your SSI for a specified period. With a PASS you can pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate your need for SSI or SSDI benefits.
How does a PASS help someone return to work?
• We base SSI eligibility and payment amounts on income and resources (items of value that the person owns).
• PASS lets a person with a disability set aside money and items they own to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal.
• The objective of the PASS is to help people with disabilities find employment that reduces or eliminates the need for SSI or SSDI benefits.
You can read all about the PASS program at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf.
The PASS must be in writing and we must approve the plan. To start, contact your local PASS cadre or local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK). You can also access the form at www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-545.html. Ticket to Work service providers, vocational counselors, or a representative or relative can help you write a PASS.
For more information about PASS, read “The Red Book – A Guide to Work Incentives” at www.ssa.gov/redbook.
Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or the beginning step to fulfilling your dreams. Let our Ticket to Work program or PASS program help you achieve your goals.
Q: What should I do if an employee gives me a Social Security number but cannot produce the card?
A: Seeing the card is not as important as putting the correct information on the worker’s Form W-2. You can verify employee Social Security numbers by using the Social Security Number Verification Service. Just go to www.ssa.gov/bso. This online service allows registered employers to verify employee Social Security numbers against Social Security records for wage reporting purposes.
Q: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?
A: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
• A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
• A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50.
• A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.
• Unmarried children under 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
• Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
• Dependent parents aged 62 or older.
Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov. If you need help with obtaining child custody visitation, you can check it out here!
Q: What is the earliest age that I can receive Social Security disability benefits?
A: There is no minimum age as long as you meet the Social Security definition of disabled and you have sufficient work to qualify for benefits. To qualify for disability benefits, you must have worked under Social Security long enough to earn the required number of work credits and some of the work must be recent. You can earn up to a maximum of four work credits each year. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on the age you become disabled. For example, if you are under age 24, you may qualify with as little as six credits of coverage. But people disabled at age 31 or older generally need between 20 and 40 credits to qualify, and some of the work must have been recent. For example, you may need to have worked five out of the past 10 years. Learn more at www.ssa.gov/disability.