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New Rules Equal Greater Equal Employment Opportunities for You!

By David A. Weaver, Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support

I am pleased to share with you some exciting updates to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that may greatly benefit you on your journey to financial independence!

For more than 40 years, the Rehabilitation Act has advanced employment opportunities, offered extensive services, and promoted accessibility for people with disabilities around the country. The law works to provide a fair shot for all to live the American dream, and to break down barriers to equality. This week, changes to this law went into effect that will greatly enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal contractors – companies doing business with the federal government – take affirmative action to recruit, hire, employ, promote, train and retain employees with disabilities. Updates to the Section 503 rules that went into effect on March 24th include:

  • Setting a goal for federal contractors to strive to ensure at least 7% of their job groups, or workforce depending on the size of the employer, consist of employees with disabilities over coming years.
  • Requiring federal contractors to invite job applicants and new and current employers to voluntarily self-identify as having a disability so contractors can assess their outreach and recruitment efforts, and their progress toward the aspirational utilization goal.
  • Requiring federal contractors to provide individuals with disabilities with reasonable accommodations needed to perform a job.
  • Extending protections to individuals with disabilities that have long been required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.
  • Issuing new regulations that establish similar workplace protections for veterans, including those with disabilities, also have taken effect.
  • These rules are important because, as a group, federal contractors employ more than one out of every five workers in the U.S., are located in every state, and offer career employment in most fields and professions.

We know that more people with disabilities want to and can succeed in employment. Yet, when asked, many point to workplace discrimination as a major hurdle they face in seeking and gaining employment. The new rules will help level the playing field.

These updates mean that employers across the country are looking for you! If you are considering work, there are more opportunities than ever to find good jobs. Many federal contractors will advertise their job openings with the American Job Centers. If you receive disability benefits and you are looking for work, the Ticket to Work program can help you find these opportunities.

The Ticket program connects you with organizations that provide services such as career planning, job placement and ongoing employment support. Your Ticket to Work service provider will work with you to help you achieve your work goals. Since its inception, the program has equipped more than a quarter of a million Americans with disabilities with the opportunities, life choices, services and support they need to become and remain competitively employed.

Thousands have earned their way off Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and created better lives and futures for themselves and their families. If you already are receiving services from an Employment Network, your state Vocational Rehabilitation agency or an American Job Center, your service provider may be able to help you find employment opportunities with federal contractors in your area.

To learn more about how Ticket to Work and Work Incentives can help you or someone you know to find opportunities to be successful, please visit for more information about the program, email us at, or call 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). Start today to make Section 503 work for you.

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Ruth says:
March 25, 2014 at 9:02 PM

okay lets do it Im willing to try again even thou last times and several unsuccessfull feedback was to no avail just didnt get any call back or not much of a effort of the agency encouragement or follow up and beleieve me Ive tried.

Dawn says:
March 27, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Worked your way off SSDI & SSI benefits?! We have to work our way up to earning these benefits!


Reji says:
March 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Activating our communities to utilize elder expertise is a most worth while effort

G.Scott says:
March 31, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I am very interested in trying to return to work. I have a vision impairment, Have been on disibility since Dec.2012. I just don't quite know where to begin. I woukd greatly receive any information that is availible.





Paula says:
April 4, 2014 at 12:31 PM

The Ticket to Work program is a great way for people receiving SSI or SSDI to try to return to work.  We have had great success getting ticket-holders hired and I am looking forward to the Section 503 hiring initiatives as a way to get even more people with disabilities into good jobs. 

Choose-Work-Blog-Staff says:
April 4, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Hi, if you are a SSDI or SSI beneficiary age 18 through 64, the Ticket to Work program may be able to help you. Through the Ticket program, you can work directly with an Employment Network (EN) or Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency that can provide you support services so that you can be successful. The goal of the program is that over time you are able to work enough to earn your way off of benefits. Your service provider will be committed to that goal! You can learn more about the program on our website at You can also speak with one of our representatives at the Ticket to Work Help Line to learn more! The number to call is 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00AM - 8:00PM ET.