Returning to Work After a Stroke

Photo of a group general workers

After a stroke, the road back to work can be challenging. Nearly one third of all strokes occur in people under the age of 65. Many people who have had a stroke intend to return to a full- or part-time job. Depending on the severity of the stroke, it might take weeks or months before returning to work is an option.

There are likely many questions running through your mind before you decide if returning to work is the right choice for you.
  • Do you want to work full-time or part-time?
  • Do you want to go back to the same employer, job and responsibilities?
  • Do you want to try something different as a career?
  • Can you ease back to work and gain new skills by volunteering?
  • What will happen to my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if I return to work?

These are all questions to consider when thinking about returning to work after a stroke. There is no right or wrong answer to many of these questions.

Use this Decision Tree to help you chart your course.

Everyone age 18 through 64 who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because of their disability is eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work Program. Participation in the Ticket to Work Program is free and voluntary. The ultimate goal of the program is to provide supports that reduce dependence on disability benefits and help participants earn more income than benefits alone can provide.

The Ticket to Work Program provides most people receiving Social Security benefits (beneficiaries) more choices for receiving employment services. Under this program, most beneficiaries become eligible for the Ticket to Work Program when they start to receive SSDI or SSI benefits based on disability.

More about the Ticket to Work Program

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, can assist both stroke survivors and employers with:
  • Free assistance over the phone and online
  • Reports about effective ways to accommodate stroke-related deficits in the workplace
  • Access to the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR), which lets users search accommodation options for specific deficits
  • Information about your legal rights if you’re returning to a job after a stroke
  • The ability to talk to someone about your specific return-to-work issues
  • Links to other helpful websites, such as, which connects people to employers committed to hiring people with disabilities, including stroke survivors.

Watch the Living After Stroke webinar on Returning to Work Post-stroke.
View the Webinar Now

Visit our Resource Library for more resources to help you re-enter the workforce.

It’s not easy to talk to your employer about your accommodation needs when you return to work after your stroke. Here are some resources to help you work with your employer to acheive a positive outcome in the workplace.

Tax Benefits for Employers – Some employers may not know there are tax benefits for hiring employees with disabilities.

Reasonable Accommodations Agreement – Use this to help you and your employer create a living document that can be reviewed regularly by both the employee and the supervisor and amended as appropriate.

Making the decision to return to work after stroke can be a difficult, but important step for many survivors. Some survivors are able to return to work with their previous employer in the same position they were in before the stroke. Others may need modifications to their previous job including fewer hours and physical accommodations, and some may need training so they can move into a different field altogether. While it can be overwhelming to consider the potential obstacles, the Return to Work Toolkit contains tools that can help you plan a successful journey back into the workforce.