Living with a disability can be life-changing. The decision to return to work can also be a significant transition with its own joys, struggles, and adjustments. As an Employment Network (EN) approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA), Disability Services of America seeks to make this process as simple and stress-free as possible by providing a wide range of career services.
What Is an Employment Network?
An Employment Network is an organization that has been approved by the Social Security Administration to provide and coordinate disability services for people who are approved for SSI or SSDI. Disability Services of America is an Illinois-based EN that utilizes the Ticket to Work program to help people like you return to full-time work over several years.
What Does an Employment Network Offer?
The ultimate goal of an EN is to make it easier for people who have been receiving disability benefits and who wish to return to the workforce to do so. We help people with disabilities to regain full-time employment in several different ways.
Believing in You
It is common for people who have not been able to work due to disability to struggle with self-doubt, fear of failure, and believing they cannot recover from setbacks on their journey to obtaining employment. Our Ticket to Work program ensures you have professional support to get through whatever difficulties might arise. We believe in you, even if you are struggling to believe in yourself.
After years of working with people who have returned to full-time employment after experiencing a disabling condition, we are familiar with both SSI and SSDI disability benefits. If you aren’t sure what benefits you are eligible to receive, our team can provide you with more information and answer your questions. We can also ensure that your cash and medical benefits are protected while you explore your employment options and help you recover out-of-pocket expenses you incur to maintain employment, such as purchasing hearing or mobility aids and assistive devices.
Building Your Skills
We guide participants through a vocational program that sets them up to launch their new careers. This can include classes, job training, and work experiences that occur over several years.
Finding Suitable Work Opportunities
You might be discovering or developing new employment skills you didn’t utilize previously or used differently. We can help you build an Individual Work Plan (IWP), determine what jobs and employers best align with your abilities, and assist you in staying motivated and persistent in your search. We can connect you to employers who need your skills and assist you in creating a resume that demonstrates all that you have to offer. We can also help you to practice for interviews so you don’t get stuck on tricky questions.
If you are running into barriers to employment, we can assist you in developing strategies to manage these problems so that you can get back to work. This can mean problem-solving transportation issues, locating appropriate adaptive equipment, finding ways to manage health issues that could interfere with your ability to work, or helping you advocate for needed accommodations at your new job.
Explaining Your Rights
As a person with a disability, you have rights under the ADA and EEOC. We can help you understand what these are and ensure your rights are protected.
Helping Establish Balance
It can be difficult to know how much you can handle after you have experienced a disabling condition. It can be tempting to push yourself too hard and not leave time for adequate medical care, social time, and rest. Or, you may be feeling the opposite way and be afraid to jump in too quickly and not give yourself enough space to thrive in your new vocation. We can help you determine what your “just right” situation might be and build realistic goals that consider your whole person.
Because people on disability are often afraid that they will lose their benefits and then not be able to support themselves, an important part of our job is to ensure that they know that returning to work will not automatically or immediately cause them to lose income or health insurance, if they are signed up with Ticket to Work before they begin working. Returning to work without first signing up for Ticket to Work can trigger an immediate Continuing Disability Review and lead to lost benefits, but we can help you understand how utilizing Ticket to Work will not automatically trigger a claim review or result in a lengthy process if you need your benefits reinstated within five years of ending them.
Who Can Benefit From Ticket to Work?
Ticket to Work is a free, voluntary employment program that Disability Services of America has offered for a decade. No one is required to participate. The program can serve people who meet the following criteria.
- Receive benefits from the Social Security Administration. Whether you are getting SSI or SSDI, you can qualify for Ticket to Work through our EN.
- Receive benefits under adult disability standards. All participants must be between 18-64, and we are not able to serve adults who are receiving SSI benefits under childhood disability standards.
- Worry about keeping benefits while working full-time. A lot of people receiving SSI or SSDI benefits are hesitant to return to work because they are concerned they will lose their benefits and not be able to maintain full-time work long-term. Ticket to Work provides a safety net while you find out if you are ready to return to full-time employment permanently.
- Need help with disability paperwork. If you struggle to stay on top of the various forms that you need to submit to the SSA, our EN can assist you with ensuring that you submit timely, accurate documentation.
- Haven’t worked recently. If you have been out of the workforce for a while due to your disability, we can help you brush up on your skills that might have gotten rusty, like interviewing, writing a resume, and finding jobs.
- Not currently appealing a medical cessation decision or covered under temporary benefits. Services cannot be provided if your disability status is presumptive or temporary or is currently in the process of being appealed.
Why Should I Consider Ticket to Work?
Ticket to Work is entirely voluntary. You are not required to participate, but you might want to consider it if you find the following ideas appealing:
- Being able to try out your ability to work full-time
- Increasing your income
- Having support from professionals
- Being able to continue receiving your cash and insurance benefits without any reduction for at least one year
- Having priority to restore your benefits for five years, if you can work and eventually lose benefits
- Not having to undergo disability reviews while you participate in Ticket to Work
- Being able to use Ticket to Work to start your own business or become self-employed
- Working in an industry Ticket to Work supports, such as hospitality, data entry, customer service, health care, administrative work, federal employment, or remote work