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Yes, People with Disabilities Can Work: A Summary of Available Work Incentives

Updated: Oct 27


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and we at Florida Self-advocacy Central wanted to take a minute to remind readers of a few of the programs available to people with disabilities who want to work but may not know of the resources that can help them achieve that goal.


It is commonly believed that those with disabilities can’t work without losing the assistance and benefits that are often essential for survival. But that isn’t completely true. Depending upon your personal situation, there might be limits and some impact to eligibility for programs such as Medicaid and Medicare,

but there are a number of programs that make work possible.


The work incentives available to those who receive Social Security payments differ based on the program they’re on: Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Social Security rules can be complicated and the information you receive can change based on who you talk to at the agency. For that reason, it may be helpful to also talk to a Work Incentives Planner (WIPA), which is a person who is certified to help others learn about and navigate the challenges of working while receiving Social Security benefits. You can find more about WIPAs and how to find one here: https://www.ssa.gov/work/WIPA.html

Social Security’s most used employment programs are:


  • Ticket to Work- Ticket to Work connects you with free services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for employment, find a job or maintain success while you are working. For those who qualify for SSDI benefits, tickets will be issued and can be used at Employment Network (EN) vendors like Vocational Rehab who can help people with disabilities find Employment.

  • Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) - Allows Social Security recipients to exclude certain work-related expenses from their income limits when they set up a PASS plan and are working toward the employment goal in that plan.

  • Trial Work Period- Allows SSDI recipients to start working without immediately losing benefit payments, regardless of income.

  • Work Related Expenses- If you need special accommodations, equipment, or other costly items in order to work as a result of disability, Social Security will allow you to deduct the expense from your countable income. It should be noted that work related expenses and PASS plans are different incentives with their own requirements and limits, etc. Generally, work related expenses can be reported along with wages, whereas a PASS plan has to be set up.


These are just a few of the many work incentives offered. Visit ssa.gov for more information and remember all work activity must be properly reported to Social Security. Find more information about reporting requirements here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-16-inst.pdf


Work Incentive Programs for Employees Not Receiving Social Security Benefits

  • JP PAS- Provides funding for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services for employed individuals who do not receive Social Security or Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver.