Individual Work Plans

When you and an Employment Network (EN) have agreed to work together, you both will develop an Individual Work Plan (IWP) that clearly states the responsibilities you and your EN have to help you achieve your work goals.

Your plan should contain at least the following:

  • Your employment goals (the type of work you want to do)
  • All services your EN agrees to give you and how they will be delivered to you
  • Your responsibilities to meet your work goals and continue to get services
  • What you can do if you are not satisfied with your EN or your plan
  • How you can change your plan if you need to do so

Once you and your EN sign the plan, your EN will send your ticket to the Ticket program manager for it to be assigned.

Timely Progress

After you and your EN sign the plan, you want to make timely progress towards reaching your employment goals, because as long as you do so, you will not be subject to a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Medical Continuing Disability Reviews Protection

SSA is required by law to review on a regular basis whether or not you still experience a disability. During these reviews, called medical Continuing Disability Reviews, SSA is looking to see if you medically improved to the point that you no longer meet their definition of disability. One of the biggest advantages of the Ticket to Work program is that as long as you have your Ticket assigned and are making timely progress, Social Security will not decide you have medically improved.

That’s because Social Security won’t make you do a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) while you’re participating in the Ticket to Work program.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and not doing the Ticket to Work program, Social Security will review your medical disability status on a regular basis to see if you still meet their medical eligibility rules for disability benefits. During these medical Continuing Disability Reviews, if they decide that you are not disabled according to the rules, SSA could stop your benefits.
  • If you are doing the Ticket to Work program, Social Security will stop your medical disability reviews for as long as you are making timely progress towards your employment goal. You can even get a job and start earning money and they still won’t review your medical status.

It’s important you understand that when you have your Ticket assigned, SSA can lower or stop your SSI or SSDI benefits because of earnings. All the SSI and SSDI work incentives would of course be available. But, the goal of the Ticket to Work program is to support you in getting enough work to replace your SSDI or SSI benefits. So, while you are in the Ticket program and making timely progress, your SSDI or SSI benefits amount may be affected by earnings, but it can’t be affected by improvements in your medical situation.

To learn more about how the Ticket to Work program could affect your cash or health benefits, Chat with a Hub expert.

Are you making timely progress?

To find out if you are making timely progress, the Ticket to Work program will review your progress at the end of each 12-month period. If you have fulfilled specific requirements (described below) during the last 12 months, you can continue doing the Ticket program and don’t have to do a medical CDR.

If you haven’t met those requirements, you can keep doing the Ticket program, but you may be subject to a medical CDR until you start meeting the timely progress requirements. If you disagree with the decision about your timely progress, you can request an SSA review of the decision within 30 days. While waiting for the SSA review, you will be exempt from medical CDRs.

Note: If you have not made timely progress, that doesn’t mean Social Security will automatically do a medical CDR. Social Security decides when to do a medical CDR based on a number of factors.

Year 1

During your first year in the Ticket to Work program, timely progress means you must do at least one of the following:

  • Complete 3 months of work with gross earnings of at least $880 per month
  • Complete your high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Complete 60% of a full-time course load for an academic year in a college or technical/trade/vocational training program
  • Complete some combination of these work and education goals
Example

Gabrielle began the Ticket to Work program and worked out a plan with her EN. She is working part-time while also going to school full-time to become a veterinary technician. Every month she earns $500. This is less than $880, but when combined with her school time, she qualifies as performing timely progress.

Year 2

The requirements for timely progress go up each year. During your second year, you must do at least one of the following:

  • Work 6 months with gross earnings over $880 each month
  • Complete 75% of a full-time course load in a college, trade school, or vocational training program

Year 3

During your 3rd year, you must do at least one of the following:

  • Work 9 months with gross earnings over $1,220 each month ($2,040 if you’re blind)
  • Complete a full year of college, trade school, or vocational school

After Year 3

To see the complete timely progress requirements for each additional year in the Ticket to Work program, read Social Security's guidelines.

Inactive Status

If you temporarily cannot meet the goals in your Individual Work Plan because of health difficulties, you can contact the Ticket to Work program and ask to be placed in “inactive status.” The months when you are in inactive status do not count toward the 12-month period for calculating your timely progress. When you are able to resume working or attending school, contact the Ticket to Work program to reactivate your status (switch back to “in-use status”).

When your status is reactivated, you can start again where you left off in the 12-month period without penalty. In other words, you will not lose credit for previous work you did to accomplish your work goals.

While you are in inactive status, Social Security may conduct a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR). However, Social Security will not do a medical CDR once your status has been reactivated.

Example

During his first 8 months in the Ticket to Work program, Tyler was doing great. He earned more than $880 in 2 different months and it looked like he’d have no trouble with meeting the requirements for timely progress for his first year. Then, his health began to decline and he couldn’t work anymore. He decided to go into inactive status for the Ticket program until his health got better.

When he felt good enough to go back to work 6 months later, he reactivated his status. His first month back, he made more than $880 again. Even though it had been more than 14 months since he started the Ticket program, Ticket to Work considered this his third month of work in his first 12 months in the Ticket program, because they did not count his 6 months of inactive status.

That meant that Tyler met the timely progress requirement for his first year on the program and will not have to do a medical CDR.