Ben holding balloons and standing in front of a building with a banner reading Grand OpeningDiscover how Social Security's Ticket to Work program can offer you the supports and services you need as you pursue self-employment. We also share some Social Security Work Incentives and other resources that can help you succeed on the path to financial independence.

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Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Working for Yourself with Ticket to Work

Nov 19, 2018

Ben holding a balloon in front of a building with a banner reading Grand OpeningDuring Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 12 – 18) and today's Women's Entrepreneurship Day, many organizations offer guidance and advice to help people interested in opening their own business. Today, we're answering some of the questions we receive about self-employment and sharing resources that may be helpful as you start on the path to self-employment.

Can Ticket to Work help me start my own business?

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or both. This includes offering supports and services that may help you succeed as you set up your business and move toward financial independence through earned income.

You can use the Find Help tool to search for service providers who have experience working with entrepreneurs starting their own business. Once you have a list of service providers, you can use the filters to narrow your results based on types of disabilities served, languages spoken, and whether services are offered in person, virtually or both.

As you think about which service provider is right for you, consider asking a few questions, like:

  • Do you work with people trying to start their own business? Can you provide me with references from other clients who have started their own businesses?
  • Can you help me develop and implement a business plan?
  • Once I've opened my business, do you offer supports or services to help me manage and grow the business?

You can use our worksheet, Finding an EN and Assigning Your Ticket, to think about other questions to ask a service provider and help you make the choice that's right for you.

Are there Work Incentives available for people who are pursuing self-employment?

Social Security Work Incentives make it easier for people with disabilities to work and still receive medical benefits and, in some cases, cash benefits from Social Security. In fact, certain Work Incentives may help you set aside income or deduct business expenses from the countable income that Social Security uses to determine your eligibility for benefits and cash payment amounts.

  • Unincurred Business Expenses (SSDI): An unincurred business expense is any non-monetary contribution that someone else makes to your self-employment business effort that you don't have to pay for. Social Security deducts the cost of this contribution from your earnings when they determine if you're engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), even though you didn't have to pay for it.
  • Plan to Achieve Self-Support (SSI or SSDI): This is a Social Security-approved plan of action that details your work goals and the items or services you need to reach your goal. Once approved, you can set aside money to pay for these expenses without those funds affecting your SSI cash payment. A self-employment PASS plan assists with obtaining the items and services needed to start the business. In addition to submitting the completed PASS application form, you must also submit a detailed business plan. Listed below are some organizations that can help you write a business plan. For more information, please see Social Security's  free publications , Working While Disabled -- A Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support (Publication No. 05-11017), Working While Disabled — How We Can Help (Publication No. 05-10095), or The Red Book (Publication No. 64-030), Social Security’s  guide to employment support programs. You can find them online at www.ssa.gov/pubs and www.ssa.gov/redbook.

If your service provider has a Benefits Counselor on staff, they can review your benefits, show you how earned income will affect your benefits and tell you about other Work Incentives you may be eligible for.

Where can I find more information about starting my own business?

Your Ticket to Work service provider is a good first stop to finding resources that may help you. You can also find out more from:

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA aims to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small businesses. Through their website, you can discover resources and learning modules to help you plan, launch, manage and grow your business. You can also find information about Small Business Development Centers, SCORE mentors, and business development for populations like women and veterans.
  • U.S. Department of Labor: Discover resources to help people with disabilities think about self-employment. Find out what it takes to be your own boss or check out the Job Accommodation Network's series of guides on self-employment.

Learn more about Ticket to Work and self-employment by checking out our recent WISE webinar, "Ticket to Work, Self-Employment and Work from Home."

Learn more

The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce. Call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn more

The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce. Call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.