Work Incentives and Rehabilitation


The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides stable benefits to those who cannot work. Benefits are also available for their families. The program also has components that encourage and help people who may be able to return to work to try to do so. 

People who qualify for SSDI benefits can also receive Medicare benefits after a two-year waiting period. Once they receive coverage, the prospect of losing it may dissuade people with disabilities from returning to work. The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program addresses this problem. Recipients of SSDI who return to work can continue to receive Medicare for eight years of coverage without paying a premium. After that, beneficiaries can purchase Medicare if they continue to have a disability. 

The Ticket to Work program includes another important feature: free employment services. These services can include physical and vocational rehabilitation, job training, career counseling, job placement assistance, and other assistance. 

The best way to help people with disabilities retain employment is to intervene shortly after the onset of a disability. SSDI currently does not offer such services. 



Ticket to Work and other programs

Policymakers should expand and improve work incentives for Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries, such as through the Ticket to Work program. Incentive programs must continue to provide a measure of economic security and health benefits. They should 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 pool of alternate providers of vocational rehabilitation for SSDI beneficiaries.