Ticket to Work: a crucial program but in need of better oversight

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | Social Security Disability

Some disabled workers are eager to get back to earning a paycheck. Even though they receive Social Security disability (SSD) payments, they may want to be off the disability roll. One way that they can do this is through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket to Work program.

Launched in 1999, the Ticket to Work program helps SSD benefit recipients find jobs and reduce their reliance on disability benefits, steering them through career development opportunities. However, a recent study of the program provides mixed reviews, mainly due to government overspending.

Overpayments to disabled workers

While the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Ticket to Work program helped participants increase their earnings and allow some to leave the disability roll, the agency also discovered that benefit overpayments to these participants were not uncommon.

In fact, it found that Ticket to Work participants were more than twice as likely to obtain disability overpayments five years into the program compared with non-participants. Such overpayments may happen when working beneficiaries fail to report their earnings or the SSA delays adjusting the benefit amounts.

Ten percent left disability roll after five years

Here are some other related findings from the GAO study:

  • Nearly 10% of Ticket to Work participants left the SSA’s disability rolls after five years. (5.1% due to work-related reasons and 4.7% for medical improvement of other reasons)
  • The program’s costs surpassed the savings in disability benefits by more than $800 million from 2002 to 2015.
  • The SSA incurred additional costs of $133 million to $169 million attributed to disability benefit overpayments to program participants.

As a result of the study, the GAO recommends that the SSA find and address the cause of these overpayments.

A worthwhile program despite study findings

The Ticket to Work program remains a relevant and crucial one that helps disabled workers in their effort to return to work. Despite the findings of this recent study, Ticket to Work is a worthwhile program that may help you and other disabled workers.

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