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

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.

Read these articles about Phase 2:

Set A Goal and Work Toward It!

When you are starting the process of finding a Ticket to Work service provider to help you, first, 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 resume or interview skills?
  • Do I need help to understand how working will affect my benefits?

Download this list of questions in a printable format, and use them to help you think through your answers so that you are prepared to talk with people who can help!

Before looking for a service provider, think through these questions for yourself, or talk about them with someone else. Don't worry if you don’t have all the answers! There will be help all along the way!

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Choosing the Right Service Provider

After you've thought about your work goals and what help you might need to achieve them, it is time to select a service provider that can help you, or someone you know who is interested in working, achieve these goals. The Ticket program offers a choice of service providers: Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

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

  • ENs are private or public organizations that help with career counseling and assistance with job placement, including helping to understand how work may affect benefits. They usually provide, or arrange for less significant services than a State 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, keep, and advance in your job.
  • State 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 how working may affect benefits.

You may also start receiving services from a State VR agency and then work with an EN once your case has been closed with VR through an agreement called Partnership Plus.

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 of employment support services including training programs and special programs for young adults 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, 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 someone you know who is interested in working, it's time to use the Ticket program's Find Help tool.

  • We can help you choose a service provider by using a guide that asks 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 code 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!

Try the Find Help tool now!

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Finding the Right Employment Network

If you or someone 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 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 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET.

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 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET.

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