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Can disabled Pennsylvanians keep benefits while trying to work?

For Pennsylvania residents who are unable to work due to a disability, Social Security disability insurance can be a lifesaver. But the Social Security Administration also has resources for disabled workers who are ready and able to give work a try. And you may not need to give up the benefits you receive until you feel safe on solid, income-earning ground.

The transition back to work can be a scary one. If your disability has produced a wide gap in your career, you may be anxious about your skills, the value you can offer to a company and how potential employers will view your disability and your skills. Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez understands these concerns, having experienced them in her own career. She says the SSA has a wide range of options for workers who are either entering the workforce for the first time or after a long absence.

The Department of Labor has a number of great resources for disabled people looking for work. Whether you're looking for classes on resume writing and job interview skills or specific job training, the Labor Department-funded America's Job Centers -- offered in Pennsylvania and every other state -- work with vocational rehabilitation offices in most states to help people find jobs. You can find contact information for your state's VR office through the Social Security Administration's website.

Speaking of Social Security, if you do receive SSDI benefits, you may be eligible for a "Ticket to Work," which will give you access to career counseling, job placement and other services. The Ticket to Work program is a good way to test the workforce waters without fear of losing your benefits. SSDI beneficiaries can sign up with an approved Employment Network or VR agency, which will then provide the right services to help prospective workers with career counseling, job placement, vocational rehabilitation and any other services that would benefit that person. More information can be found on the SSA website.

These programs are designed to ease the transition into the workforce for SSDI beneficiaries, with the assurance that benefits won't be dropped after the first day on the job. The idea is to get more people back to work in careers they enjoy without worrying that entering the workforce will prevent them from receiving any more benefits, should they become or remain necessary.

Source: The Washington Post, "Assistant Labor Secretary Kathy Martinez on how disabled former workers can find employment again," Kathy Martinez, Sept. 5, 2012

· Our firm is experienced in Social Security disability claims and a wide range of personal injury issues. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Harrisburg disability claims page.

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