Get Involved in Volunteer Work
About Ticket to Work
Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.
To learn more about Ticket Work, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work and contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket to Work Find Help tool.
Our News and Views blog series, Help for Young People Considering their Future, is written for people with disabilities moving from school into the workforce.
This installment is all about volunteering.
If you enjoy helping others, have a special talent to share, or want professional experience, consider volunteering. Volunteering means donating your time and skills for free. It’s a great way to give back to your community and make new friends. It can also help you discover your passions, learn new skills, get into college and start a career. Volunteering is your chance to:
- Earn school credit or community service hours
- Explore types of work you might like to do in the future
- Gain skills and experience while expanding your professional network
- Connect with future employers
- Find a mentor who can help you start or return to your career
- Practice asking for and using accommodations you will need in college and on the job
Four Steps to Get Started
- Know what you’re looking for. Deciding what kind of volunteer experience you want will help you find the best fit. Ask yourself these questions:
- What skills and experience will help me reach my college and career goals?
- Do I want to work with people, animals, tools or machines?
- Do I like to be indoors or outdoors? In busy places or quiet ones?
- Do I prefer to work on an existing project or start my own?
- How much time can I commit to volunteering?
- Find a place to volunteer. Use these tips:
- Search for positions online at websites like these:
- Check out familiar places in your community like your school, a neighborhood center, a library, a hospital or your place of worship
- Ask for ideas from your friends and family
- Learn more about the position. Once you find a volunteer opportunity, make sure it's a good fit. The best way to do this is to:
- Visit the site and meet the people you’ll work with
- Find out what you’ll do and what tools or technology you’ll use
- Ask about the most fun part of the job and the hardest part of the job
- Treat the application and interview as seriously as if you are applying for a job
- Have someone review your application and help you practice for your interview
- Answer questions honestly and with a positive attitude
- Mention your skills, interests and previous volunteer or paid work experience related to the position
- Apply for the position. Before you start volunteering, you may have to fill out an application and interview for the position. You can show them you deserve the position if you:
Things to Think About
Requirements: Volunteers may be required to meet certain conditions, such as being older than a certain age or getting permission from their parents, passing a medical exam or a criminal background check. Ask about requirements early on so you don’t waste time applying for positions you’re not qualified for and to ensure that you can meet application deadlines. Application tests and paperwork can take a lot of time.
Your commitment level: Before committing to a volunteer position, make sure you can put in the required time and effort. Reliability is essential to being a good volunteer. Reliability can also help you get a strong letter of recommendation from your supervisor when you apply for college, scholarships and jobs.
Disclosing your disability and asking for accommodations: Volunteers are not employees, and are not typically entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With that in mind, you may consider using volunteer work as an opportunity to practice more than technical skills. You can decide whether to mention your disability and ask for accommodations to help you do your best in your volunteer position. Practicing now can help you feel more comfortable asking for accommodations in college or on the job. Learn more about disclosure through the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability.
Volunteers may be considered employees under certain situations. For more information, visit the Job Accommodation Network.
If you receive Social Security benefits because of a disability, the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program can answer questions about disclosing your disability and requesting accommodations. Find the PABSS program in your state through Ticket to Work.
Have fun! Volunteering should be fun, so make sure you are doing something you enjoy.