Recovery Options: The Ticket To Work Act

  • I'm going to inaugurate a series of SharePosts about recovery and the working life.  Most of the people I know who have schizophrenia are employed.  One friend rose up to become the CEO of  corporations.  Another friend is a counselor.  My friends who collect government disability checks work at part-time jobs.


    This first SharePost will talk about The Ticket To Work Act and the second one will talk about creating a PASS plan.  The last SharePost in the series will talk about the rules and guidelines for collecting a government disability check at the same time you work at a job.


    This evidence refutes certain people's opinions that they trot out as facts.

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    The Mad in America crowd claims the medication causes disability, which accounts for the staggering number of people collecting government checks.  One person also claimed the medication causes people to sit home all day doing nothing.


    Unfortunately, these are the prevailing opinions of the so-called experts who front the anti-psychiatry recovery movement.


    How is it then that I have the utmost compassion for people who collect government disability checks?  This isn't a moral failing on their part.


    I count among my good friends a guy who's so poor, living off the government, that he steals fruit.  Nobody wants to be poor.  Nobody wants to go hungry.


    So I will always advocate that, at some point, if you are able, you should try to get a job: either as your sole income or to supplant your disability check.  The government social security website has detailed information about how to collect benefits while working at a job, or how to get yourself off the rolls and get back on if your job doesn't work out.


    My point is: if you want to work you deserve to try.  The HealthCentral editorial team's news article flashing on this website surely cribbed from me this motto: "The only real failure is the failure to try."


    I was astonished the editorial team had the courage to state that.


    In my estimation: doing something, within your abilities, rather than not doing anything, will enable you to live life well in recovery.


    If you try and fail, you can proud of yourself if you gave it your best shot.  The key is to be achievement-focused, not failure-averse.  People who fear failure will give up after two or three attempts.  People who take risks to obtain a goal might not quit after 300 tries.


    Thomas Alva Edison broke thousands of light bulbs before he invented what we know as the modern-day light bulb.


    I will always recommend you do some kind of work, even if it's volunteer work.

    Luckily, the government is not heartless: it surely would like you to succeed at a job. 


    The Ticket To Work Act makes it easier to do this.  I will talk in detail about this program now.  In the next SharePost, I will talk about how you can create a PASS plan to achieve success on the job.


    Today, the Social Security Administration has made it easier for people who collect government disability checks to explore the world of work.  The Ticket to Work Act allows you to do just this. 


    This government agency has a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA) that can answer your questions about their work incentives and aid you in deciding whether or not to choose work as an option.


    Dial (866) 968-7842 to locate the WIPA project near you where a community work incentive coordinator can help you understand how work affects your benefits and what federal, state and local supports might be available to you as you pursue getting a job.


    The Ticket to Work Program can also help you receive vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals and other employment support services free of charge.  Call toll free (866) 968-7842 to get more detailed information than I could possibly include here.

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    The benefit of the Ticket and Work Incentives is that when you are actively involved in the Ticket to Work program, you get individual help to find the right job for you and you can explore work options without losing your benefits.  You can easily receive benefits again if you have to stop working.  You can continue to receive healthcare benefits. You will not receive a medical continuing disability review (CDR) while using your Ticket.


    With the Ticket and Work Incentives, you will still be able to use other Social Security Administration programs and work incentives, such as: a Trial Work Period (TWP), expedited reinstatement of benefits (EXR), a plan for achieving self support (PASS), WIPA, vocational rehabilitation (VR) support and employment network (EN) support, as well as job training and referrals and other employment support services.


    The Ticket to Work Program is available for people who are between the ages of 18 and 65 and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because they are disabled or blind.


    Effective October 1, 2000, Medicare Part A (hospital) premium-free coverage was extended for 4.5 years beyond the current limit for disability beneficiaries who work. 


    If you receive Medicaid instead, most States have an option where you can continue your coverage while you work and have a disability.  Call the state Medicaid office in your area to see if this kind of buy-in is available where you live.


    You can find a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Center near you. Find a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency or Protection & Advocacy (P&A) program at that Web site as well.  A P&A helps you with the vocational process and provides advocacy and assistance in exploring the world of work.


    How exactly does the Ticket to Work Program work?  The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues tickets to eligible beneficiaries who can assign their tickets to an Employment Network (EN) of their choice to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other services helpful to securing a work goal.


    You can locate an Employment Network online to find one near you.


    The government social security website is a treasure trove of information about The Ticket to Work.  You'll be able to read about people who used a Ticket  or a PASS plan to find and maintain a job.


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    Before I end this SharePost I will tell you it ticks me off that people spout their opinions that masquerade as facts when the reality is not everyone diagnosed with schizophrenia will be able to work at a job.


    In the interests of appealing to everyone here:


    I will tell you that I always recommend you do volunteer work if you can't work at paid employment.  Log on to Idealist or VolunteerMatch to find a labor of love that you're passionate about and will get you energized to get out of bed in the morning.


    The anti-psychiatry rhetoric abounds.  Yet so far I know of no one in that crew that is actively engaged in discussing real strategies for living life well in recovery.  Their anti-medication focus, their belief that mental illnesses are not real illnesses, and their idea that terms like schizophrenia and bipolar are stigmatizing are repeated ad naseum.


    This does a disservice to people with mental illnesses that need help.


    I've lived in recovery for 25 years: all my adult life.  I'm not the least bit upset that I have schizophrenia, nor does the term schizophrenia cause me to feel stigmatized.


    Nor would I have lobbied my primary care doctor to change the term mitral valve prolapse when she told me I had that condition years ago.


    The term schizophrenia doesn't upset me in the least.


    Thus I can assure you that my focus at HealthCentral will always be on strategies and techniques for living life well in recovery.


    Schizophrenia is a real illness.  Those of us diagnosed with it deserve to have a life worth living; a life that will not always be easy, yet is always worth living.


    Stay tunes for more ways to succeed.

Published On: November 29, 2012