Frequently Asked Questions
reducing barriers which impede employment
The Maryland Employment Network is a statewide network of 9 high-performing, outcome-driven partner agencies, in addition to our in house staff, that help individuals who are receiving Social Security benefits go to work. The Maryland Employment Network is committed to reducing barriers which impede employment and assist Marylanders with disabilities to reach their full potential. Maryland Employment Network will decrease stigma and increase independence, self-sufficiency and quality of life by providing high quality employment and benefits counseling services. We believe that, through work, anyone, regardless of disability, can find means to meet overall rehabilitation and financial goals!
Will you get me a job?
MD-EN staff is here to assist you through the process of getting a job. Your Career Consultant will work with you on identifying what you are interested in and employers in that field. Your Career Consultant will also help you with your resume, applications, and interview preparation.
What happens once I get a job?
When you obtain employment, your Career Consultant will continue to support you to make sure that you are able to keep that job, as well as provide you with assistance in moving forward with other employment goals, like getting a promotion, getting a raise, or increasing your hours. If you choose to disclose that you work with us, your Career Consultant can also help you communicate with your employer around accommodation needs, feedback, scheduling, or anything else you may need. If you choose not to disclose, your Career Consultant can still help you prepare for and practice those conversations.
What does it mean to disclose? Do I have to disclose anything to my employer?
Disclosure refers to what information you share with your employer about your disability and participation in the Ticket to Work Program. You do not have to disclose anything to your employer at all. However, choosing not to disclose will limit the level of on the job support that your Career Consultant can provide. Your Career Consultant can discuss the risks and benefits of disclosure with you in greater detail.
Will I lose my cash benefit if I go to work?
Not necessarily. Most individuals are much better off if they are living on earnings instead of disability benefits. There are work incentives that will allow you to try working before losing all of your benefits. If you decide to move from public benefits to employment, you can work with a Certified Benefits Counselor who will look at your particular circumstances and help you use SSA’s work incentives and safety nets. Then you can make the best decision for your circumstances and preferences.
If your disability worsens or if you decide you are no longer able to work, Social Security has several built-in safety nets that can help you receive benefits again without the need to re-apply.
How much can I earn and still keep my benefits?
This is often the first question people ask. Part of the answer depends on whether you are receiving Title II Benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security has set up different work incentives and safety net for each of these programs. For more information on work incentives, download our Work and Benefits Brochure.
If you are receiving both SSI and SSDI, you will be able to use both sets of incentives. A Certified Benefits Counselor can talk with you about your own benefits and work goals to help you understand more.
If I go to work and lose my benefits, can I get them back if I can't continue to work?
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA) of 1999 created an important work incentive called Expedited Reinstatement (EXR). EXR is a way for a beneficiary to return more quickly to Social Security disability benefits when his or her work significantly reduces or stops. The former beneficiary must have the same or a related disability as the earlier entitlement, and the person must again be unable to perform SGA. EXR permits individuals to receive provisional payments while Social Security is processing the reinstatement request.
How does participating in the Ticket to Work Program benefit me?
Ticket to Work connects you with employment service providers to help you obtain your work goals, free of charge. Additionally, while you are participating in the Ticket to Work Program and making what Social Security considers Timely Progress on working towards self-sufficiency, you may be protected from Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR). This means that you do not have to worry that SSA will find that you are no longer eligible to receive your check due to your disability improving.
Do I have to participate in the Ticket to Work Program?
No. The Ticket to Work Program is free and voluntary. You will not be penalized if you choose not to participate.
What is Substantial Gainful Activity?
The Social Security Administration defines “substantial gainful activity” or SGA as the performance of significant physical and/or mental activities in work for pay or profit, or in work of a type generally performed for pay or profit, regardless of the legality of the work. Within the context of this definition, each of the following words or phrases has a specific meaning:
- “Significant activities” are useful in the accomplishment of a job or the operation of a business, and have economic value.
- Work may be considered “substantial” even if it is performed on a part-time basis, or even if the individual does less, is paid less, or has less responsibility than in previous work.
- Work activity is “gainful” if it is the kind of work usually done for pay, whether in cash or in kind, or for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.