Resources To Assist You Return To Work
You can get information about SSA’s employment support provisions by calling us toll free at 1-800-772-1213, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may also obtain information at any of our SSA field offices around the country. If you have Internet access, you can find your local office by going to the Social Security Office Locator on our website, Social Security Online, at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator. Enter your postal ZIP code to get the address, telephone number, and directions to your local office.
An employee in each of our local Social Security offices serves as a WIL to provide advice and information about our work incentive provisions and employee support programs to individuals with disabilities and outside organizations that serve those with disabilities.
AWICs are experienced employment support experts who:
- Coordinate and/or conduct public outreach on work incentives in their local areas;
- Provide and/or coordinate and oversee training on SSA’s employment support programs for all personnel at local Social Security offices;
- Handle sensitive or high profile disability work-issue cases, if necessary; and
- Monitor the disability work-issue workloads in their areas.
A BPQY provides information about a beneficiary’s disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled continuing disability reviews, representative payee, and work history, as stored in SSA’s electronic records. The BPQY is an important planning tool for a beneficiary, an AWIC, Plan to Achieve Self-Support Specialist, benefits counselor, or other person who may be developing customized services for a disability beneficiary who wants to start working or stay on the job. For instructions on reading and interpreting a BPQY statement as well as details on the components of a BPQY statement, see our BPQY Handbook located at BPQY Handbook.
We provide BPQYs to beneficiaries, their representative payees and their authorized representatives of record upon request. Beneficiaries can request a BPQY by contacting their local SSA office or by calling SSA’s toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call our toll-free TTY/TDD number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If someone other than the beneficiary, representative payee, or appointed representative (a benefits counselor, for example) wishes to receive a BPQY, they must submit two SSA-3288 forms (Consent for Release of Information) that have been signed by the beneficiary. One is to authorize the release of Social Security records and the other to authorize the release of Internal Revenue Service earnings records. Both releases must contain the beneficiary’s Social Security number or the claim number. Copies of the SSA-3288 are available at https://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-3288.pdf.
We provide BPQYs free of charge if needed by the beneficiary or Ticket to Work (TTW) providers, i.e., Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPAs), Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS), or Employment Networks (ENs), to assist the beneficiary to return to work under the TTW Program.
WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from SSA to provide all Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability beneficiaries (including transition-to-work aged youth) with free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Each WIPA project has counselors called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) that:
- Provide work incentives planning and assistance to our beneficiaries with disabilities;
- Conduct – often in partnership with other community organizations - outreach efforts to those beneficiaries (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or state employment support programs; and
- Work in cooperation with Federal, state, private agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities.
If you are one of the many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI disability beneficiaries who want to work, a WIPA project can help you understand the employment supports that are available to you and enable you to make informed choices about work.WIPA services are available in every state, the District of Columbia, and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. If you want to locate the WIPA organization nearest you, please call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). You can also find contact information in our service provider directory on our website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/work.
WISE feature information to help Social Security disability beneficiaries make the decision to re-enter the workforce or to work for the first time. All WISE take place via free internet-based webinars. The webinar format allows beneficiaries and other interested parties to learn about vital employment resources from Social Security without having to travel to another location.
Some of the webinars are designed to address a broad range of disabilities, while others target people in specific disability categories or age ranges. They may feature various employment service providers, including Social Security approved Employment Networks, State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, Protection and Advocacy Services, and WIPA organizations. Some WISE also feature former beneficiaries who have used the Ticket to Work (TTW) program to become employed and offer first-hand accounts of their success.
Beneficiaries and other interested parties may register for scheduled WISE online via our website at www.chooseworkttw.net or by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-YOURTICKET
(1-866-968-7842) or for TTY call 1-866-833-2967 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST. Archived versions of past events are also available.
Employment Networks and State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies furnish a wide variety of services to help people with disabilities return to work, enter a new line of work, or work for the first time. You can find a list of state Employment Networks and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies in our service provider directory on our searchable tool website (Find Help) at www.socialsecurity.gov/work.
In every State, U.S. Territory and the Tribal Nations, there is an agency that protects the rights of persons with disabilities. This Protection and Advocacy System administers the SSA-funded PABSS program. Each PABSS agency can:
- Investigate any complaint you have against an employment network or other service provider that is helping you to return to work;
- Give you information and advice about vocational rehabilitation and employment services;
- Tell you about SSA’s work incentives that will help you to return to work;
- Provide consultation and legal representation to protect your rights in the effort to secure or regain employment; and
- Help you with problems concerning your individual work plan under the Ticket to Work program.
If you are working and have limited income, you may be eligible for an IDA through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program or an Assets for Independence Act (AFIA) grant. An IDA is a trust-like bank account that helps you save your earnings to go to school, buy a home, or start a business. When you make a deposit to the account, a participating non-profit organization matches your deposit. The typical match is one dollar for each dollar that you deposit. The Federal government adds an additional match, limited to $2,000 for an individual or $4,000 for a household over the life of the program (usually five years).
If you have an IDA through TANF or an AFIA grant, we do not count any earnings you deposit into your account, any matching deposits, or any interest earned as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) income or resources. As a result, your SSI benefits may increase.
IDAs that are not federally funded are not exempt from SSI and will be counted under the income and resource rules of SSI.
An ABLE account is a type of tax-advantaged account that can be used to save funds for the disability-related expenses of the account’s designated beneficiary, who must be blind or disabled by a condition that began prior to his or her 26th birthday. The designated beneficiary must be:
- Receiving SSI based on disability or blindness that began before age 26;
- Entitled to SSDI, Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), or Disabled Widows or Widowers Benefits (DWB) based on disability or blindness that began before age 26; or
- Someone whose primary care physician has certified that he or she is disabled or blind by a condition that began before age 26.
Certain qualified disability expenses can be distributed from the ABLE account if they are expenses related to the blindness or disability of the designated beneficiary. Each ABLE program decides whether an expense is a qualified disability expense, according to guidance provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Examples of qualified disability expenses include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, and assistive technology and related services.
To learn more about ABLE accounts, go to:
- IRS’ website (www.irs.gov) provides a link to the proposed regulation Tax Benefit for Disability: IRC Section 529A;
- The National Down Syndrome Society website (www.ndss.org) gives an overview of the legislation in the article Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act; or
- The Arc website (www.thearc.org) with links to ABLE legislation by state.
American Job Centers (formerly known as One-Stop Career Centers) provide job seekers, with and without disabilities, a variety of tools and services to help them get back to work. Services include training, referrals, career counseling, job listings and other similar employment-related services. Tools, many of which are available on-line, assist job seekers with career exploration, skill assessments (including identifying transferable skills), credential listings, and job openings. Customers can visit a Center in person or connect to the Center’s information through PC or kiosk remote access. Many American Job Centers are also Employment Networks (see EMPLOYMENT NETWORK) and can accept your ticket under the TTW Program. You can locate your closest American Job Center at www.servicelocator.org.
JAN provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues to help people with disabilities enhance their employability. JAN consultants offer one- on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and related legislation, and self-employment options for people with disabilities. Assistance is available both over the phone and online. You can contact JAN by phone at 800-526-7234 (Voice) or 877-781-9304 (TTY). The JAN website (www.AskJAN.org) is a rich source of information that makes a chat service available and features the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource.
The Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a special hiring authority for hiring workers that have certain significant physical, psychiatric, or mental disabilities known as targeted disabilities. For more information see the OPM Web site at: www.opm.gov/disability/index.asp.
AmeriCorps is a national network of service programs that engage Americans to meet the nation’s needs in priority areas like disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. We exclude the stipend that AmeriCorps members receive in the determination of SSI benefits. For Social Security Disability Insurance recipients, the income exclusion only applies to the AmeriCorps VISTA program. For more information, go to the AmeriCorps website at www.americorps.gov.