How to determine your work goals and find a Ticket to Work service provider that can help you best.

Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Your Path to Work: Phase 2

Whether you are just considering working, ready to find a service provider to help you, are looking for a job, or already working and want to keep on the road to financial independence, explore the Path to Work to learn more at every part of your journey. Select the phase that best describes where you are on your journey at the top and then use the blue buttons to navigate to each article.

Phase 2: Ready to Work helps you determine your own work goals then find a Ticket to Work service provider that can help you best.

Set A Goal and Work Toward It!

When you are starting the process of finding a Ticket to Work service provider to help you, the first thing you must do is to think about what your work goals are and what help you will need to get there.

When you are looking for a job, it’s important to take time to answer some questions to make sure you get the job that’s right for you. For example,  

  • What type of work do I like to do?
  • What am I enthusiastic about?
  • What kind of job do I want now?
  • What kind of job do I want 5 years from now?
  • What are my long-term career goals?
  • Where do I want to work? At home or in an office? Outside? Another setting?
  • Do I want to be self-employed or work for someone else?

After you have a sense of the kind of job you want, it’s important to figure out what you need to be ready to work. Ask yourself the following questions to learn what you might need to prepare for the job:

  • What type of training or education might I need to reach my employment goal?
  • Will I need assistance at my workplace? Special equipment? A job coach or flexible schedule?
  • Do I have a position in mind, or do I need help finding a job?
  • Do I need help with my résumé or interview skills?
  • Do I need help to understand how working will affect my benefits?

Download this list of questions in a printable format, which you can use to think through your answers and have them ready to use when talking to people who can help!

Before you start looking for a service provider, take some time to think through these questions for yourself, or talk about them with someone else. If you don’t have answers for all of them, don’t worry! There will be help all along the way!

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Choosing the Right Service Provider

After you have thought about work goals and what help might be needed to achieve them, it is time to select a service provider that can help you or the person you know who is interested in working achieve those goals. The Ticket program offers a choice of service providers: Employment Networks (ENs) and state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

Both offer a range of services to help you prepare for and find work, such as career counseling, job placement, and more. There are some differences between the two that are important for you to understand:

  • ENs are private or public organizations that can help with career counseling and assistance with job placement, including helping understand how benefits may be impacted by work. They will usually provide, or arrange for less significant services than a VR agency might. For example, most ENs do not provide extensive training programs. Many ENs have offices in your community or elsewhere in your state and some ENs serve people wherever they live. ENs provide long-term support to help you or someone you know find a job, keep your job, and advance in your job.
  • VR agencies usually work with individuals who need more significant, costly services.  In some states, this includes intensive training, education, rehabilitation, vehicle modification or repair, cochlear implants, medical restoration, such as prosthetics or eye surgery, motorized scooters or funds for college classes or a degree. They may also provide career counseling, job placement assistance and counseling on the impact of working on benefits.

You may also start receiving services from a state VR agency, and then, when those VR services have ended, you can work with an EN to receive other services that will help in finding a new job or keeping a current one.

You should also know that some ENs are also part of a state’s public workforce system. These workforce ENs provide access to a full array employment support services including training programs and special programs for youth in transition and veterans. A Ticket to Work participant who assigns their Ticket to a workforce EN will either work with a workforce EN directly or via other providers in the workforce system, including American Job Centers.

 

We have fact sheets that will help you determine what type of service provider is right for you. As you read through these fact sheets, look back at the worksheet you completed after reading the last email we sent you and think about those work goals and what it will take to achieve them. This will help you decide whether an EN or VR is the right fit.

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Using the Find Help Tool

After deciding whether an Employment Network (EN) or state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency is the right provider for you, or a person you know who is interested in working, it is time to use the Ticket program’s Find Help tool.

  • We can help you choose using a guide that will ask you a series of questions to help you assess your readiness to work and what service provider is right for you, or
  • You can Search Providers by ZIP or State to get a list of providers that serve your area. You can then look at the services those organizations provide to find service providers that have what you need

It is important to remember that the list of ENs generated from the search may include ENs that do not have an office nearby. The good news is that they can still help! Many ENs work with their clients over the phone or by email, or they may have a local office that isn’t listed in the directory. Be sure to give them a call to find out!

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Finding the Right Employment Network

If you or the person you know who is interested in working chooses to work with an Employment Network (EN), it’s important to choose one that will provide the services needed to support your work goals. Not all ENs provide the same services so it’s important to talk with as many ENs as necessary to find the services that you need.

When you are looking for an EN, it’s important to ask questions and take notes to compare the knowledge, skills and abilities of their staff and the services they offer. The fact sheet, “Choosing the Right Employment Network for You,” guides you through the process and provides questions to ask. "Finding an EN and Assigning Your Ticket Worksheet" is another tool that may help you interview many ENs to find the one that's right for you as you decide to assign your ticket. Here are some additional questions that can help you find the right EN:

  • What types of services does the EN provide? Examples include designing or requesting job accommodations, identifying and coordinating training, career counseling, assessing skills and helping with job search and placement.
  • Would I benefit from benefits counseling, and does the EN have a benefits counselor on staff who can explain how Social Security work incentives support my employment goals?
  • Does the EN know about career options for people with disabilities similar to mine?
  • Does the EN know what supports and accommodations may be needed for me to be successful?
  • Does the EN understand my needs (how much contact is required, preferences on how to be contacted, etc.)?
  • What are the skills and experience of the staff who would be working with me?
  • Has the staff been successful in finding good-paying jobs for people with disabilities similar to mine?

When you find an EN that is a good match, both you and the EN must agree to work together. Together, you will jointly create an Individual Work Plan (IWP). An IWP is like a roadmap to help you reach your employment goals. The EN will inform Social Security that you are now participating in the Ticket to Work program.

When you start interviewing ENs, be sure to have your checklist with you and take good notes. Before choosing an EN, it is a good idea talk to call the Ticket Help Line or a Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA) organization in your community to learn how work can affect Social Security disability benefits. Benefits counselors can help you understand the rewards and risks that go with employment. If you have any questions about Social Security disability benefits and work, call the Ticket Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00AM - 8:00PM ET.

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Need Help with Choosing a Service Provider?

Finding the right provider can be a long process, but the time spent now is well worth it! You might have difficulty finding a provider in your local area. If this is the case, a Multi-State or National provider might be the answer. You can often work with these types of providers over the phone or the Internet.

Another issue you might face when searching for a provider is selecting one you think is right for you, but later finding out it’s not the right fit. If you are working with a VR but then realize the services provided aren’t working for you, you can try one of the ENs available. On the other hand, if an EN doesn’t seem to be able to meet your needs, then maybe a VR is the right choice. If you decide you want to work with a different provider, you can unassign your ticket from your current provider and then reassign it to another service provider.

Choosing a service provider may be a long process, but finding the right one will put you on the path to financial independence. Meet Megan, Robert and others who achieved their dreams through work by picking a service provider that was right for them! If you’ve already experienced our success stories, return to a favorite or discover a new one!

And if you are still having problems finding the right service provider, call the Ticket Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00AM - 8:00PM ET and speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives.

If you have found a provider to work with, congratulations! You are ready to go to the next step on the path to work, finding a job!