Social Security’s Ticket to Work program has become immensely popular. For anyone struggling with a disability who wants to get into the workforce, the Ticket to Work program is a great opportunity to receive assistance and make a smooth transition. Additionally, there are many federal employment initiatives that may be available to you as well. Learning how to navigate these programs might seem challenging, but it’s easier than you think.
Ticket to Work
The Ticket to Work program helps to connect you with free employment services. It’s ideally designed to help you decide if working is right for you and to prepare you for returning to the workforce. Services include career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and job placement and training from authorized Ticket to Work service providers. These are usually Employment Networks (EN) or a state vocational rehabilitation agency. When you choose a specific service provider, they become an integral part of your new “employment team.” These are people dedicated to aiding you along your journey to achieving financial independence.
The good news is that if you already receive SSDI or SSI, you probably qualify for the Ticket to Work program. Anyone age 18 through 64 who already receives SSDI or SSI because of a disability is eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program. Of course, participating in the program is free and voluntary. There’s no actual paper ticket, and no ticket is necessary in order to participate in the program.
Federal Employment Initiatives
Federal initiative programs have two different paths. One path is focused on working with the government and actual agencies within the government, while the other is targeted towards gaining employment with companies that contract with the government. Both are viable options depending on the sort of role you want.
Schedule A is an initiative that grants the federal government and its agencies permission to hire people with disabilities for jobs within the federal government itself. The benefit of Schedule A is that it doesn’t force disabled persons to compete directly against nondisabled job seekers for these positions. Each federal agency hires personnel through the Schedule A hiring authority on a probationary basis. This simply means that all Schedule A employees work on a trial basis at first. If you gain positive reviews and perform well at the new job, you might be eligible for conversion to career-conditional employment in the competitive service. In short, if you do well during your probationary period, you could eventually secure a long-term employment position.
Section 503 instead focuses on positions with federal contractors. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibited government agencies and businesses that work with the government from discriminating against anyone with a disability. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which was revised in 2014, prohibits businesses that work with the federal government from discriminating against people with disabilities and requires these employers to take positive steps towards recruiting, training, hiring, promoting, and retaining people with disabilities. Basically, this expands the job opportunities available to anyone with a disability who is actively seeking employment. Your program service provider should be able to help you connect with any opportunities that are available in your area.