In our last two posts, we have been writing about the record-high number of individuals in Ohio who have been awarded Social Security Disability benefits. While it is important that disabled individuals receive the financial support they need, it is also critical that there are opportunities for them to transition back to the workforce if they are able or interested.
One of the main programs offered by the Social Security Administration to aid people with that transition is the Ticket to Work program. Unfortunately, despite being the "main" program offered, Ticket to Work has seen little success.
Approximately 12.5 million people receive benefits because of disabilities, but in the last two and a half years, less than 30 percent have earned enough money to stop receiving benefits.
Advocates for disabled workers say Social Security does not do enough to make the Ticket to Work program accessible for its intended recipients. Some people have suggested that everyone who will receive benefits should be given an appointment to talk with a benefits counselor.
Other advocates say there should be more intervention taken to help keep people in jobs they have. Rather than allowing employers to simply fire injured workers who need accommodations, there could be additional steps taken to help disabled people stay in their existing positions.
Because many employers balk at the expense of providing special accommodations, one economist proposed requiring disability insurance for employers. He suggested that disability insurance would incentive them to "accommodate workers rather than send them to the federal benefits roll."
Ultimately, the goal is to help ensure injured and disabled workers receive the financial support they need. While Social Security benefits should be available when people are unable to work, the program should also work toward making it more feasible for employers to keep injured workers.
Source: New York Times, "Disabled, but Looking for Work," Motoko Rich, 6 April 2011