Questions and Answers
- How much can I receive from TakeCharge?
- Will SSA make Ticket Payments directly to me?
- Are there restrictions on how I can spend the Work Support Payments I receive?
- If other ENs do not give clients Work Support Payments, what do they provide to clients?
- What if I need help in finding a job or in paying for training in order to get a job?
- How do I sign up to receive Work Support Payments?
- This sounds almost too good to be true. How can I be sure that TakeCharge will really pay me the Work Support Payments described above?
- I am already earning more than $720 per month. Can I start receiving Work Support Payments immediately?
- Why is SSA making it possible for me to receive additional money/support to enter or remain in the workforce?
- How will SSA know what my month-to-month earnings are?
- Why does the TakeCharge application give me a choice of signing up for one of two TakeCharge ENs? And how will I know which of the two is the best choice for me?
- What if I make more than $720 per month for a few months and then my earnings drop below that level, or I lose my job?
- How do I know that SSA will not use the evidence of even part-time work against me and argue that I have medically improved to the point that I should not receive benefits?
- How can TakeCharge afford to give me 75% of the payments it receives from the Social Security Administration when other Employment Networks keep 100% of those Ticket Payments?
- Can I switch to one of the TakeCharge ENs if I have already signed my Ticket over to another Employment Network or to a State VR agency?
- Will TakeCharge accept applications from all ticket eligible beneficiaries no matter what their disability, state of residence or source of earned income?
- Where can I find more information?
- I'm already a client of TakeCharge and I've just started work, what should I do next?
- Ready to get paid?
- How long will it take for my Work Support Payments to arrive once I send TakeCharge my pay stubs?
- How does SSA view TakeCharge work support payments when determining SSI or SSDI benefits?
- Why are my work support payments from AAATakeCharge or AATakeCharge Milestone, LLC tax-free?
- Can you further explain the Work Support Payment Chart presented as part of Question #1?
- Does TakeCharge look at pay period dates or pay dates when reviewing my earnings evidence?
- Does TakeCharge look at gross income or net income?
- Can I have my work support payment directly deposited into my bank account?
Read Before Signing Up
How much can I receive from TakeCharge?
You can receive up to $19,197 from TakeCharge if you manage to go off of SSA benefits due to your work earnings. You can collect up to $6,976.50 from TakeCharge if you work part-time and continue to collect your monthly SSA cash benefits.
To be eligible you must fall into one of the following 7 categories:
- A: SSDI beneficiaries who earn more than $720/month, but less than SGA and continue to receive monthly checks from SSA
- If your work earnings remain below the level of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is set at $1000 per month for disabled beneficiaries and $1,640/month for blind in 2011, then SSA will not terminate your benefits as a result of your work earnings. In addition to your regular SSDI benefit check however, you can qualify for $3,825 in Phase 1 Milestone payments over a nine month period - provided that you earn at least $720 per month from your employment during that period. This means that during your 9 month trial work period you can receive checks from your employer, from SSA, and from TakeCharge. Note: you can stop at $3,825 in Phase 1 Milestone payments or transition into Category B or C described below, and collect additional payments from TakeCharge
- B: SSDI beneficiaries who earn slightly more than SGA but continue to collect monthly SSDI checks because of Impairment Related Work Expenses or subsidies or because they are still on their Trial Work Period.
- Some beneficiaries on SSDI earn more than SGA ($1000 for general disabilities and $1,640 for blind) and still continue to collect their SSDI checks indefinitely—even after the Trial Work Period has stopped. These individuals have Impairment Related Work Expenses or Work Subsidies that are subtracted from their countable earnings. (See Red Book on Work Incentives for details on how you can use these work incentives). These individuals can collect the Phase 1 Milestone payments described above, and then go on to collect another $3,151.50 in Phase 2 Milestones from TakeCharge over an additional 11 month period. Phase 1 and 2 Milestone payments are in addition to paychecks from an employer and in addition to a beneficiary's normal SSDI checks from SSA. Phase 1 and 2 Milestone payments total $6,976.50.
- C: SSDI beneficiaries who go off benefits because of their work earnings
- Going off SSA benefits due to work will maximize your TakeCharge payments. If your work earnings exceed SGA ($1000 for general disabilities and $1,640 for blind) then SSA will terminate your monthly benefit checks once your trial work period is complete. SSDI recipients who actually get off benefits, and remain off due to their work earnings, can collect $19,197 in Outcome payments from TakeCharge over a three year period.
- D: SSI recipients who earn at least $720 per month and continue to collect SSI cash benefits
- SSI recipients who earn more than $720 per month but continue to collect a SSI check can still qualify for an additional $3,825 in Phase 1 Milestone payments from TakeCharge over a 9 months period.
- E: SSI recipients who earn more than SGA but who still collect a SSI check
- SSI recipients who earn more than SGA ($1000 for general and $1,640 for blind) but who still collect an SSI check each month (doesn't matter how small that check is) can qualify for Phase 1 Milestone payments described above and then go onto collect Phase 2 Milestone payments as well. The Phase 2 Milestone payments will be $2,970 over an 18 month period. Phase 1 and 2 Milestone payments total $6,795.
- F: SSI recipients who earn enough to reduce their monthly SSI check to zero
- SSI recipients who earn enough to cause their monthly SSI checks to drop to zero, and keep it there due to their earnings, can receive $18,405 in Outcome Payments over a 5 year period.
- G: Dual SSDI/SSI beneficiaries
- Dual SSDI/SSI beneficiaries are treated as if they are SSDI beneficiaries for payment calculation purposes (see above).
Click here for a chart listing the amounts and timing of Payments.
Will SSA make Ticket Payments directly to me?
No. The Ticket-to-Work program is structured such that SSA will only make payments to Employment Networks, or ENs. TakeCharge has two ENs. These two TakeCharge ENs are the only ones in the country which split the SSA Ticket payments with clients. Of the payments TakeCharge receives from SSA for a given client, 75% are passed back to the client in the form of Work Support Payments.
For example, if Mary signed her ticket over to an EN and then went back to work and stayed off of SSDI cash benefits due to her work earnings for 3 years, the EN that has Mary's ticket would receive $25,596 from the Social Security Administration. If the EN is a TakeCharge EN, then we pass back to Mary 75% of those ticket payments, or $19,197. We would give that $19,197 to Mary as Work Support Payments distributed throughout the 3 year period.
Are there restrictions on how I can spend the Work Support Payments I receive?
Yes. You must spend them on products and services that help you remain in the workforce. Examples include car payments or repair bills, child or elder care, telephone bills, a computer, clothes for your work, more training, public transportation etc. Almost any reasonable expense will qualify. We do not require receipts. Once you sign a statement pledging to spend the Work Support Payments in ways that will help you remain in the workforce or advance in your career, your word is accepted.
If other ENs do not give clients Work Support Payments, what do they provide to clients?
Other ENs supply services. They may help clients hunt for work or provide job coaching or career counseling services. They might provide training, technical accommodations or transportation services. If you think you might be better off with services rather than money, request a list of ENs that provide services in your area by calling (866) 968-7842 or going to www.yourtickettowork.com. Compare the options available to you.
What if I need help in finding a job or in paying for training in order to get a job?
We strongly recommend that you contact your state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. State VR agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in assisting people with disabilities prepare for work. State VR agencies will often pay for tuition, books, supplies, license fees, tools, adaptive equipment etc. VR agencies can sometimes help with job placement as well.
We encourage you to get the help you need from your State VR agency and then sign-up with TakeCharge before you start work. Receiving help from a State VR agency AND getting additional help from an EN is not only permissible under the Ticket to Work program, it is encouraged. Please note, if you do sign-up for services from your state VR agency and their staff manage to help you find employment, your Ticket may be worth slightly less than if you had never used VR services, but the trade-off is usually worth it. Click here for more information on receiving help from both your state VR agency and TakeCharge.
How do I sign up to receive payments from TakeCharge?
You must complete a short application form and mail it to us. Click here to print out the form.
Please note: if SSA has already terminated your benefits then you are no longer "Ticket Eligible". You cannot assign your ticket to any EN. If you go back on benefits for any reason, even for a month, you become Ticket Eligible again. As long as you are receiving SSDI and/or SSI benefits in the month in which you assign your Ticket, we can accept your ticket.
If you are uncertain as to whether you are Ticket eligible you can call Maximus at (866) 968-7842 to verify your Ticket status.
This sounds almost too good to be true. How can I be sure that TakeCharge will really pay me the Work Support Payments described above?
You can call the SSA Ticket-to-Work program at (866) 968-7842 to verify that TakeCharge has been an SSA approved EN in good standing for the past 7 years. In fact, as a result of our unique shared-payment business model, more Social Security beneficiaries have signed up with TakeCharge than by any other EN in the country. An approved TakeCharge application constitutes our contract with you. As long as SSA makes payments to TakeCharge as a result of your work earnings, then we guarantee that 75% of those Ticket payments will go to you as Work Support Payments.
I am already earning more than $720 per month. Will my work earnings start counting toward payments from TakeCharge as soon as I sign-up?
Probably, but it depends. Under the new Ticket regulations just published in the Federal Register on May 20, 2008, Social Security explains that their goal is to use Ticket payments to encourage beneficiaries to earn more than they are already earning. If you were already more than the Trial Work Levels before you signed up with an EN, then one or more of the four Phase 1 Milestone payments may not be available on your Ticket (click here to see how many milestone payments your ticket will trigger from SSA). If you are already earning above SGA ($1000/mo for general disabilities and $1,640 for blind), or if you plan to increase your earning to more than SGA once you assign your Ticket, then your work earnings will definitely start counting toward Milestone or Outcome payments as soon as you sign-up.
Why is SSA making it possible for me to receive additional money/support to enter or remain in the workforce?
If you are capable of even part-time work then it is likely you will be better off financially and psychologically if you participate in the workforce. Even if you never leave the benefit rolls, if you work part-time, your employer and you will be paying employment related taxes on your earnings. Those taxes go toward helping support the Social Security Trust Fund. And part-time work might lead to full time sustainable employment. SSA wants to encourage your work efforts at whatever level you can manage.
How will SSA know what my month-to-month earnings are?
While SSA can track your earnings via state and federal information sources, these methods are slow. This means if you want prompt Work Support Payments from TakeCharge you must mail copies of your pay stubs to TakeCharge every 1-3 months. We will fax these pay stubs to SSA to prove that you were working during the months for which TakeCharge is requesting ticket payments. If you do not receive pay slips from an employer, you will be able to submit other forms of evidence documenting your earnings. For more details on the payment process see questions 18–23 below.
Why does the TakeCharge application give me a choice of signing-up for one of two TakeCharge ENs? And how will I know which of the two is the best choice for me?
SSA requires each EN to choose one of two possible payment methods: outcome- only or milestone-outcome. In order to give our clients a choice between the two payment options we established two ENs. Both TakeCharge ENs will give clients 75% of payments received from SSA.
Tips for Selecting a TakeCharge EN and the Work Support Payment Chart will help you decide if you are better off signing up with AAATakeCharge or AATakeCharge Milestone, LLC. Click here for tips and for the Payment Chart.
What if I make more than $720 per month for a few months and then my earnings drop below that level, or I lose my job?
It is not unusual for people's earnings to go up and down over a period of years as they struggle to work despite their disability. If your earnings drop below $720 per month for a period of time, then TakeCharge cannot collect Ticket payments for you for those months, but once your earnings go back up, we can resume collecting Ticket payments. For example, let's assume you received two Milestone payments. And then you stopped working for 6 months. If you start work again, your new work months will count toward your third Milestone payment. You can pick up where your old payments left off.
How do I know that SSA will not use the evidence of even part-time work against me and argue that I have medically improved to the point that I should not receive benefits?
Congress wants beneficiaries to feel comfortable about working to the extent that they can work. According to the August 2006 SSA publication "Trends in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Programs" page 81, it says "The law prohibits SSA from using a beneficiary's return to work to trigger a continuing disability review, prohibits termination for medical improvement if the beneficiary is using the Ticket, and precludes SSA from using evidence from work to show medical improvement."
How can TakeCharge afford to give me 75% of the payments it receives from the Social Security Administration when other Employment Networks keep 100% of those Ticket Payments?
TakeCharge is a "Do-It-Yourself" Employment Network. We provide no individualized counseling, training or job hunt advice. Most of our communication will be via email or regular mail, although once you sign up you will also be provided with a phone number for customer service. We keep our operating costs low so that we can pass 75% of Social Security payments to clients who take responsibility for their own vocational rehabilitation.
Can I switch to one of the TakeCharge ENs if I have already signed my Ticket over to another Employment Network or to a State VR agency?
Yes. But depending upon the amount of help that your state VR agency or the other Employment Network already gave you, Maximus, the contractor who Social Security hired to administer the Ticket Program, may decide that some percentage of your initial Ticket payments should still go to the original agency. Maximus makes these decisions on a case-by-case basis. You will receive 75% of whatever amount TakeCharge receives for your Ticket. If you are not certain of the status of your Ticket call Maximus at (866) 968-7842 and ask.
If you decide to switch your Ticket you must complete the TakeCharge application AND send it to us with a note to Maximus. The note should say: "I, _(your name)__ want to un-assign my Ticket from __(name of current EN or VR agency)__ and re-assign it to TakeCharge. Sign and date your note. We will submit the note to Maximus with your TakeCharge application.
Please note: The only EN from which TakeCharge cannot accept ticket transfers is National Telecommuting Institute, Inc.
Will TakeCharge accept applications from all ticket eligible beneficiaries no matter what their disability, state of residence or source of earned income?
Yes. It does not matter what state you reside in, or if you later move to another state. The nature of your disability does not matter. You can be self-employed or a regular employee.
Where can I find more information?
For an overview of the entire Ticket to Work program, click here.
To talk with a live agent at Maximus who can answer general questions about the Ticket to Work program or refer you to experts call (866) 968-7842.
For the full text of Social Security's new Ticket regulations which go into effect July 2008, click here.
I'm already a client of TakeCharge and I've just started work, what should I do next?
Contact your local Social Security office if you have not already done so and tell them about your work activity. See question #20 below for suggestions on how you can speed up the process of SSA's payment on your ticket.
You must also print out the correct TakeCharge payment request form (see question #19 below) and mail it to TakeCharge.
Ready to get paid? Please mail in a Payment Request Form.
Click here if you signed-up with AATakeCharge Milestone (milestone-outcome).
Click here if you signed-up with AAATakeCharge (Outcome-only) and your benefit payments have stopped due to your work earnings.
Click here if you are not sure which TakeCharge EN you signed with.
How long will it take for my Work Support Payments to arrive once I send TakeCharge my pay stubs?
As soon as we receive your pay stubs and Payment Request Form we will fax your paperwork to Maximus which administers the Ticket program for SSA. It has been taking SSA anywhere from 8-14 weeks to pay once they receive the payment claims. If you have stopped receiving benefit checks from Social Security the wait time tends to be 4-5 weeks because it is easy for SSA to verify that you have gone off benefits due to your work. If you are still collecting a SSDI or SSI check and requesting milestone payments, then SSA takes longer because they want to be SURE that you really are working and earning the reported amount. To make it easier for SSA to confirm that fact, we suggest that you contact your local SSA representative and ask her/him to enter your earnings into their computer database. They may also ask you to mail your local SSA office copies of your pay stubs - so they have proof.
Please note: while SSA has ALWAYS paid the amounts owed under the ticket program, SSA has not always been reliable about paying on a regular schedule. Please understand that TakeCharge has no control over how promptly SSA pays us. We will mail you a check for the 75% owed to you within 3 business days of receiving the funds from SSA.
*Occasionally Social Security discovers a payment has been made in error. If this happens your case will be placed in overpayment status until Social Security recoups the funds. More details will be provided to you if your case goes into an overpayment status.
How does SSA view TakeCharge work support payments when determining SSI or SSDI benefits?
For SSI recipients, SSA considers the work support payments unearned income. Therefore, the work support payments are counted in the monthly income of the recipient and can alter the amount the recipient receives in SSI benefits. If the SSI recipient is already earning an amount from work that has caused the SSI check to drop to zero, then TakeCharge payments have no impact, except if he or she wants to start receiving benefits again. TakeCharge work support payments have no impact on SSDI benefits.
Why are my work support payments from AAATakeCharge or AATakeCharge Milestone, LLC tax-free?
In the IRS Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, under a section titled "Persons with Disabilities", the IRS states "you do not include in income the value of goods, services, and cash that you receive, not in return for your services, but for your training and rehabilitation because you have a disability".
The payments TakeCharge makes to you ARE to assist with your on-going rehabilitation and efforts to remain in the workforce despite the fact that you have a disability.
Can you further explain the Work Support Payment Chart presented as part of Question #1?
The amounts on the Work Support Payment Chart are the 75% of Ticket payments that a client will receive. The full payment amount is determined by Social Security and of the full payment amount TakeCharge passes 75% of Ticket payments on to our clients.
Payment amounts might vary slightly as SSA typically includes a cost of living increase in the ticket amounts provided each year.
The guiding principle is that TakeCharge ENs will pass back to the clients 75% of whatever amount TakeCharge receives from SSA for the client's ticket—no matter what that amount turns out to be.
Does TakeCharge look at pay period dates or pay dates when reviewing my earnings evidence?
When requesting payments SSA has instructed TakeCharge to look at the pay period dates so we can calculate the calendar month earnings. The only time earnings are calculated based on pay dates is when the client is in Milestone payments and is receiving SSI. It's important to ensure pay period dates, pay dates, gross earnings and FICA tax amounts are on your pay statements and are legible. If this information is not listed on your pay statements you will be provided with a list of alternative ways to report your earnings to TakeCharge.
Does TakeCharge look at gross income or net income?
All Payment Requests are processed based on your gross earnings (earnings before taxes). Net income is only used when the client is self employed.
Can I have my work support payment directly deposited into my bank account?
We do not offer direct deposit at this time. Each time you qualify for a work support payment you will receive a print out from Bank of America notifying you of the amount of your work support payment check and the approximate mail delivery date of your check. You will also receive a copy of the Payment Summary that we receive from Social Security showing the amount of the payment we received and the 75% of that payment that is being passed on to you.