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Get Your Ticket to Work: Help for Job Hunting on Wheels


Editor’s Note: Many people with disabilities want to become independent. However, often barriers may exist, and one of those barriers may be finding meaningful employment. But if you want a job, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a program, Ticket to Work, that’s nationwide and administered by various providers to not only help you find a job but also train you for a better paying job.

“The Social Security Administration contracts with organizations like America Works of New York to help people between the ages of 18-64, who are receiving social security, SSI or SSDI, to participate in the Ticket to Work program,” Matthew Silverstein, the director of public affairs for America Works of New York, a provider for the Ticket to Work program, says.

The Ticket to Work program is voluntary and provides free job support for people who are on benefits and want to return to the work force. Ticket to Work’s primary goal is getting those people full-time jobs to earn more money than what they’re receiving from Social Security. However, the program also helps people with disabilities to find part-time work.

What America Works of New York Does to Help

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As a Ticket to Work provider, America Works of New York has had many successes.

“For instance, I had a middle aged woman who was homeless and came to us,” Silverstein explains. “She had a daughter she hadn’t had any contact with for many years. She wanted to work in the security business, so America Works of New York helped her get a security guard license. We also got her some jobs with local firms. We encouraged her to take the New York City Civil Service test because the City of New York hires people to be security guards. She got a job with the New York City Human Resources Agency in one of their centers. This union job included health care and retirement program benefits. At that time, she was making about $40,000 per year plus the benefits, so I’m sure she’s making more now. She’s no longer receiving any kind of government benefits, she’s contacted her daughter, and she’s a grandmother now.

“ Ticket to Work has offices all over the country.

Even if there’s not an America Works provider where you’re located, there are other organizations whose responsibilities are to help you find a job. Our company has been working with the Social Security Administration on this program since 2008.”

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“We work with people with a wide range of disabilities,” Antonia Cove, managing director of America Works of New York’s Ticket to Work program, explains. “We work with people who may be in wheelchairs, who have prosthetics, and who have psychological problems. We also work with people who have disabilities that you can’t physically see, but those disabilities may hinder them from returning to work. Different providers from all over the country are a part of the Ticket to Work program and provide a wide variety of services.

American Works and other providers can help everyone get back to work, except people who are blind or deaf.  There are providers who work specifically with people who are blind or deaf due to the individualized support required, and we can give them a list of other agencies that can and will help them based on their individual needs.”

work_after_spinal_cord_injury_2-1“We’re only one contractor, but if you go to the website, the government’s official database, you can search by city and state to find the agency that will be able to help you,” Silverstein reports. “One of the main benefits of the Ticket to Work program is if an individual isn’t trained in a particular kind of available work, this program can secure funding to help pay for that type of training. Besides being able to search by city and state, you can search by companies you want to work for and learn the type of training you may need.”

Silverstein goes on to explain that America Works of New York has five offices in New York City and a call center that people can call to learn more about the programs offered. “When a person calls in, we set up an appointment, the individual comes in for orientation, and then we create what’s called an individual work plan with each client with a short term and a long term career plan included. We set up what we want to plan to accomplish for this person for the short term of one year, and what results we hope to have at the end of 5 years. Next we set up a program to help that individual get from where he/she is to the type of job he wants.

“America Works of New York’s longtime goal is to help people secure jobs that  pay more than minimum wage.

To get the job the individual wants, our organization may need to help that person receive more training or perhaps some type of certificate or the experience they need to get that better paying job, so that they can be self-sufficient.”

employee in wheelchair
Cove explains that, “America Works has offices all over the country, including: New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Atlantic City and Burlington in New Jersey; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; San Francisco and Fresno in California; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; and Miami, Florida.  Because we are a national provider, we can provide services to anyone in the U.S. – even remotely. You can phone 855-268-1935 for further information.

“We are in the process of expanding our program to be available in more states and provide these services to more people with disabilities. We want to help them find career trajectories and transition into careers in a holistic way. We want to make work obtainable and sustainable for them.”

At America Works, we feel that this is the next frontier of reform for helping people with disabilities to become self-sufficient.”

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Many people Wheel:Life has interviewed have said they want to return to work, but have found their need for transportation to and from work presents a major problem.

Silverstein mentions that, “Something else that America Works of New York does to try to solve this problem is by offering transportation bus passes. Our organization also offers transportation assistance for the first couple of months that a person gets a job.”

The America Works’ program has been very successful and has matched over 300,000 job seekers with disabilities with thousands of employers since 1984, even before partnering with Ticket to Work. Dr. Lee Bowes is the CEO, and Peter Cove, the founder. “This is a performance based service that we provide,” Antonia Cove says. “We don’t receive any compensation for our services, until an individual has been in a job for at least a month. We’re providing services to the individual and also to the state.”

What the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program Involves

14937205_10153861828721050_1096369304220811636_nAccording to Antonia Cove, “The Social Security Administration has been evaluating this program and has learned that many people with disabilities want to get back to work and become independent. So, in the last couple of years, the SSA has promoted Ticket to Work to let more people with disabilities know that there is help for them, if they want to return to work.“

Ticket to Work connects people with disabilities with free employment services to help them decide if working is right for them, prepare for work, find a job and/or maintain success while working. If you choose to participate, you will receive services such as career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, job placement and training from authorized Ticket to Work service providers like America Works of New York. The website includes information on finding providers by guided search, zip codes and/or provider’s name and state.

The Social Security Administration’s website has a chart that lists the types of service providers and the kinds of services available, including:

  • Benefits/work incentives counseling;dictionary-image
  • Career planning counseling;
  • Job search and placement;
  • Ongoing employment search;
  • Special programs for veterans and youth-in-transition;
  • Tuition support for some college courses;
  • Rehabilitation services;
  • Assistance with accommodations; and
  • Legal support and advocacy.

Antonia Cove reports too that Ticket to Work advises on ways that individuals can, “Get housing, daycare and other services provided by each community, so they won’t have these kinds of problems as barriers to keep them from working.”

The Ticket to Work program is not a one-size-fits-all solution for people with disabilities.

A person with a disability sits down with a counselor and determines what his/her needs are to return to work. Then the counselor looks at that person’s previous work background and what kind of training or certificate that person may need to obtain to qualify for a better paying job. Once again, a 5-year program is set up to prepare that individual for the job he or she wants. Then that person’s individual program is broken down into achievable short term goals to aid the individual in moving from where he is to where he wants to be.

work_after_spinal_cord_injury_1

To learn more about Ticket to Work in your state, contact the Social Security Administration by going to www.choosework.net or calling 866-968-7842.

About the Author:John-E_-Phillips
John E. Phillips For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at www.johninthewild.com.

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