Are you ready to find work? If you are a person with a disability between the ages of 18 and 64 who receives Social Security benefits, you can participate in the free Ticket to Work program. Through Ticket to Work, enrollees are assigned to an Employment Network. Employment Networks, or ENs, are private and public organizations funded by the Social Security Administration that provide free employment services and resources to people with disabilities. The purpose of this program is to change the narrative of disability employment in this country; people with disabilities are the most unemployed and underemployed group of workers in the country, but by utilizing Employment Networks, we can change this.
What Can an Employment Network Do for You?
Employment networks provide resources that help people with disabilities find and maintain employment. Employment Networks offer services such as benefits counseling, career planning, help with job applications and interviews, and assistance with requesting workplace accommodations. All Employment Networks are different and provide different services to people with disabilities based on the person’s geographic location, skills, and career goals.
How Can You Connect with an EN?
There are several ways for you to find and connect with an EN in your area. You can start by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (or 1-866-833-2967 for TTY). The Help Line is open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET. When you call the Help Line, make sure to tell the representative what you are looking for from an Employment Network. The Ticket representative can send you a list of ENs in your area that provide the services you need to get back to work.
You can also utilize the ‘Find Help’ tool on the Ticket to Work website. Visit choosework.ssa.gov/findhelp to search for the specific services you need. For example, if you are looking for benefits counseling, select the “Benefits Counseling” box for a list of the benefits counseling services in your area.
Lastly, you can find an Employment Network through your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. If you are currently working with your local VR agency, ask your service provider for EN options in your area. Your VR agency can help find the right Employment Network for you.
How Do You Find the Right EN for You?
Searching for the right Employment Network can be difficult. Finding the right EN for you is vital to returning to the workforce and maintaining stable employment. When searching for your EN, do not be afraid to talk to as many Employment Network representatives as possible. There are several important questions you should ask each Employment Network in order to determine if the EN is right for you. A few questions to consider asking your potential EN are as follows:
- What particular services do you provide? Do you provide benefits counseling, or assistance with workplace accommodations?
- Does this EN have experience working with people who have similar disabilities to mine?
- Can this EN help advance my specific career goals?
- Is this EN familiar with the types of accommodations I will need in the workplace?
- How often would we meet? Would meetings take place remotely or in-person?
Make sure to ask all of the necessary questions so you can determine which Employment Network is right for you. Finding the right EN can be life-changing, and can lead you towards financial independence. Once you find your Employment Network, you will work with the EN’s service providers to create an Individual Work Plan, or an IWP. An IWP is a custom game plan that details your goals for employment, the services you will be receiving, and the steps you will need to take in the near future to maintain a job.
Contact Us Today!
If you are interested in working with a free Employment Network through the Ticket to Work program, visit willingtoworkusa.com and fill out our short survey. Soon, our disability advocates and attorneys will contact you with the resources you need to find the right EN for you. If you have any questions about the Ticket to Work program and Employment Networks, contact us today or contact the Ticket to Work Help Line.