Social Security rules called Work Incentives make it easier for young adults with disabilities to explore work and still get Social Security and healthcare (Medicaid or Medicare) benefits. 

Work Incentives Help Young Adults Ready to Explore Work

Jul 7, 2016

Choosing to go to work is a big decision, especially for young adults with disabilities. It’s important to understand how work will affect their Social Security disability benefits and healthcare, as they transition to employment. Social Security rules called Work Incentives make it easier for young adults with disabilities to explore work and still get Social Security and healthcare (Medicaid or Medicare) benefits.

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 to 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and supports they need to succeed in the workforce.

With the Ticket to Work program and Social Security Work Incentives, young job seekers with disabilities may:

This image is of a table explaining TWP, EXR, and CDR

  • Begin work without automatically losing disability benefits
  • Return to benefits if they have to stop working
  • Continue getting healthcare benefits
  • Be protected from a medical continuing disability review while their Ticket is assigned to an approved service provider and they are making expected progress with work or educational goals

Young people with disabilities who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may also take advantage of the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE).

This work incentive allows a person under age 22 and regularly attending school (including a college or university) or in a vocational training program, to exclude earnings from income up to a certain monthly and yearly amount. For 2016, the SEIE amount is $1780 per month and up to $7180 per year.  This means Social Security does not count these earnings when it figures the SSI payment amount. Generally the less countable income you have, the more your SSI payment will be.

The monthly and yearly limits of the SEIE are usually adjusted based on annual increases in the cost-of-living index.

Watch this helpful Social Security video about the SEIE. The 2015 SEIE monthly and yearly limits mentioned in the video are the same in 2016.

Image of the first frame of the YouTube video

If you’re ready to explore the possibility of finding work, contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 866-833-2967 (TTY) M-F 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM ET. Ask an agent to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket to Work “Find Help” tool. For more information about Social Security’s Ticket to Work program, visit

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