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Finding job openings isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. While the Ticket to Work program is helpful, it isn’t the only service that people with disabilities often require. Vocational rehabilitation is popular and may be necessary depending upon a person’s specific needs. After your vocational rehabilitation case has been closed, the next step is finding employment. This is where an Employment Network (EN) with the Ticket to Work Program comes into play. Identifying the right EN and navigating their offerings is usually pretty straightforward.

Employment Network

Every Employment Network is either a public or private organization that contracts with Social Security to provide free employment support services to SSDI or SSI disability beneficiaries ages 18 through 64. These services tend to be fairly varied, but they generally include career planning, job leads, job placement, and ongoing employment support. Depending upon the EN, services may only be delivered to the local community, or they could be offered throughout multiple states. Others have services nationwide. Contact depends upon their preferences. Your EN may prefer phone calls, emails, or they could give you access via a website.

In some instances, an EN is actually part of a state’s public workforce system, such as a workforce commission or department. These networks often include additional services or access to other services, such as training programs or specialized programs for transitioning. These are typically targeted at youth or veterans. As a Ticket to Work participant, you’ll work with your EN directly or through another partner within the workforce system. This could be a local job center, but this isn’t always the case.

Choosing the Right Network

When choosing to work with an EN, it’s a good idea to choose a provider that delivers services you specifically require. This is why it’s an excellent idea to identify your own work goals and consider your background, work experience, or other credentials that you already have. Remember that not all networks offer the same services, so this is a vital choice. Consider multiple networks and what they provide before being assigned your Ticket.

There are always a few initial questions to ask. What services do they provide, and do they have established experience working with people who have disabilities similar to yours? Does the EN understand the sort of support or accommodations that you require? Has the EN demonstrated an understanding of your needs? What skills do their staff possess? Who will be working with you directly? Are they experienced with employment requirements like yours? Before you make a decision, you have to ensure it’s the correct choice for you.

Finding Your Network

You should have received a list of service providers from your Ticket to Work Help Line or via the Choose Work website’s Find Help tool. Additionally, you may download and complete a worksheet to assist you with making your decision before being assigned your Ticket. Along with this, you’ll notice a long list of service providers, including a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agency or Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS). In some instances, you may also see a Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project listed.

It’s essential that you take the time you need to ask questions, take notes, and make an informed choice before you assign your Ticket. You should also consider how your new work will affect your housing assistance, Medicare or Medicaid, and your Social Security benefits and find a provider that can help you with understanding these things. If you would like to learn more or receive help with the Ticket to Work program, contact DisABLEd Workers at 877-291-9806.