Work Incentives and Rehabilitation

Background

In addition to providing stable benefits to those who cannot work and to their families, the Social Security Disability Insurance program also encourages and helps people who may be able to return to work to try to do so. Strategies for helping people return to work include providing access to health insurance coverage and offering rehabilitation services.

The prospect of losing Medicare coverage that is provided to recipients of DI benefits after two years may dissuade many people with disabilities from returning to work. The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program addresses this problem. It allows working individuals with disabilities to receive eight years of Medicare and Medicaid coverage without a premium. After that beneficiaries can purchase Medicare if they continue to have a disability.

The Ticket to Work program includes another important feature: early intervention. Evidence suggests that early intervention, including both physical and vocational rehabilitation, job training, and other supportive services, can help some newly disabled individuals return to work.

WORK INCENTIVES AND REHABILITATION: Policy

Ticket to Work and other programs

In this policy: Federal

Policymakers should expand and improve work incentives, through programs such as the Ticket to Work program for Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries, as long as they continue to provide a measure of economic security and health benefits and do not endanger the long-term integrity of the Social Security trust funds.

The Social Security Administration should provide early interventions to people with disabilities to best enable them to return to work.

SSA should expand its pools of alternate providers of vocational rehabilitation for SSDI beneficiaries.