A Sheltered Workshop or Work Center is defined by the US Department of Labor as Centers that have historically provided rehabilitation services, day treatment, training, and/or employment opportunities to people with disabilities. In most situations, the person is paid below minimum wage, may have job assistance, such as a job coach, modification of duties, or special equipment, and work less than full time.
Working in a sheltered job is an indication to SSA, especially at the hearing level, that your not capable of full time competitive employment. But beyond that, having a sheltered job could lead to you earning enough quarters of coverage to become eligible for DIB benefits as well as SSI benefits, if you did not have enough quarters of coverage previously. This occurs most often in young disabled adults. This can be important because DIB benefits are paid regardless of asset amounts, unlike SSI. I have seen cases where a claimant’s sheltered work made them eligible for DIB benefits while their SSI case was pending.
Further, even after you receive SSA benefits, you can continue with your sheltered work, so long as you are making less then the amount needed to trigger a trial work month, currently $720.