Student graduationFor those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security has a variety of Work Incentives to help the transition into adulthood go as smoothly as possible. Learn about supports and services for those continuing their education or who are preparing to go to work.

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What’s Next? Planning for Life After High School

Jun 30, 2021

Student graduationSummertime typically means the end of the school year. For many young adults, it's a time to transition from high school to their next great adventure. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security has supports and services available to you no matter what path you take.

Finding a Partner in Planning

If you receive SSI benefits as a minor, Social Security will review your eligibility for continued benefits once you turn 18 years old. This medical review is called the "age-18 redetermination". To learn more about this and other important disability benefit qualifications for transitioning youth, check out What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18.

Prepare with a PASS

Do you have a specific goal in mind? A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) may be able to help.

The PASS is available to help those receiving SSI, or those who can become eligible for it, to set aside income and resources to pay for items or services for a specific work goal.

To learn about the PASS and how you can get started setting up your goals, read our fact sheet Using Your PASS.

Benefits Counseling

Whether you plan to attend college, trade school or head straight into the workforce, talking with a Benefits Counselor may be the best first step for you to learn how furthering your education or going to work and earning income may affect your benefits.

To learn more, you can connect with your local Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA) project. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI, WIPA projects provide free benefits counseling to help you make informed choices about work. If you are age 14-25 and receive SSDI or SSI benefits, you are eligible for WIPA services even if you are not currently seeking employment. Once you turn 18, you become eligible for Social Security's Ticket to Work Program and can connect with an Employment Network (EN). Many ENs have certified Benefits Counselors on staff.

Managing Income

As an adult, you may begin to control and manage your money, including any Social Security disability benefits you receive. Once you are 18 years old, you can register for a my Social Security account.  It's a free and secure way to monitor and manage your benefits that gives you personalized tools and benefits information.

While you're receiving SSI, there are limits on things that you can own. Social Security calls these things "resources."  In spite of resource limits, you may qualify to set aside money in an Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. Social Security will not count money (up to $100,000) in an ABLE account toward the resource limit. If your disability occurred before the age of 26 and you receive disability benefits (SSDI/SSI), you are eligible to open an ABLE account through your state. If your state does not offer an ABLE account, some states that have them will allow you to open an account even though you don't live there. 

The money in an ABLE account can be used to pay for disability-related expenses to help you lead a healthy, independent lifestyle.

Social Security has a collection of youth-friendly resources that connects youth and young adults with disabilities to information to help them achieve education, career and life goals.

Visit www.ssa.gov/youth to learn about:

  • Supports and services available from Social Security for those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Resources for transition-aged youth to connect to national and community supports and resources
  • Information to help SSI youth become self-sufficient adults

Education and Employment Training

If you're planning to attend college or a vocational training program after high school, you may receive grants, scholarships, fellowships, and gifts as part of your plan to fund your education. If you use any of these to pay for expenses at an educational institution, including vocational and technical schools, they won't be counted as income when determining your SSI benefits.

Similarly, if you receive any student financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 or the Bureau of Indian Affairs student assistant programs, it won't be counted as income, no matter how you use it.

Student Earned Income Exclusion

The Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) helps students afford classes and training to prepare for the workforce. SEIE is available to you if you:

  • Receive SSI benefits
  • Are under age 22
  • Regularly attend school, college or job training to prepare for work

In 2021, using the SEIE, you can exclude up to $1,930 per month up to $7,770 for the year. To learn more about how SEIE applies to students' monthly expenses, read our blog post, Making the Grade at School and Work.

Entering the Workforce

Once you finish high school, you may decide to head directly into the workforce. If you think working is the right choice for you, Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program may be right for you.

The Ticket Program and other Work Incentives are designed to help you transition to financial independence through work while maintaining some or all your benefits, including Medicare or Medicaid.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. If you're eligible, the Ticket Program is free and voluntary. It connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job, or be successful while you are working.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (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

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (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.

Receive Ticket Program Texts

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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  Opt in to receive information about the Ticket program via text. Text the word "TICKET" to 474747