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Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
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Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work


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Choose Work Blog Archives

Ticket Talk Podcast Series Highlights

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The Ticket Talk podcast series shares interviews with disability employment experts and service providers, “Where Are They Now” follow-ups with our success stories participants, information about Social Security Work Incentives and answers to frequently asked questions about working and disability benefits.

In case you missed these episodes, this month we are highlighting our most popular podcast episodes on self-employment, Section 503 regulations, protection and advocacy, and Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects. 


To learn more about Ticket Talk, you may want to listen to our first podcast episode titled, The Ticket to Work Program May be Right for You! featuring former Social Security Associate Commissioner Bob Williams.  

Download Ticket Talk to your smartphone or tablet and take it on the go or stream it from your home computer. If you do not use a smartphone or tablet, you can read the podcast transcript. Ticket Talk will soon be available on iTunes too! Be sure to sign up for email updates to be notified of this new option. You can find all Ticket Talk episodes on the Choose Work Blog in the category Ticket Talk Podcasts.

If you have an idea or a topic you would like to hear more about in an upcoming podcast, please share it in the comments below.

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Tips for Making 2013 a Success!

Bob Williams sailing photo By Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner for the Social Security's Office of Employment Support Programs

The start of a New Year marks new beginnings, and new opportunities.  The economy is improving, with more than a half a million jobs added in 2012, and the unemployment rate continues to fall. The number of working age adults with disabilities who are employed  is also increasing.  So, if you believe going to work, gaining new skills and improving your employment and financial prospects is in your future, now is a good time to take action. 

Here are four simple tips I follow to achieve my own life and career goals.  Following them is not a sure recipe for success but I have found them helpful over the years and I hope you will, too. 

Take Charge – Know what you want to achieve this year.  Write  it down and take at least one action a day that will bring you closer to it.  Even the smallest of steps add up, fueling both the optimism and energy to keep going and one day achieve it.  

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The Americans with Disabilities Act Works

By Bob Williams,  Associate Commissioner for the Social Security's Office of Employment Support Programs 

In 1990, I was privileged to be part of a coalition of people with disabilities, civil rights workers and disability advocates in Washington, DC who, with the tremendous support of thousands of ordinary citizens across America, convinced the Congress to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.  One of the most powerful memories of that day was watching, from high in the galleries above the Senate floor, as the bill was signed into law, after years of hard work and debate.   I remember watching Senator Tom Harkin, the chief author of the law address his colleagues, the nation, and his brother Frank, not just in spoken words but in American Sign Language as well. 

The Senator described how his older brother Frank, who grew up deaf, had to live far away from his family in order to attend a boarding school specializing in education for people who are deaf. He described the discrimination Frank experienced in adulthood, while trying to find a job.  It’s an experience that many of us with disabilities in the chamber that day knew well.  Senator Harkin then turned the conversation to the future, by dedicating the passage of the ADA to the children born that day, regardless of their disability status.  It was then that tears of sorrow and hope flowed most freely. 

Over the last 22 years, the ADA has been sweeping in its impact in assuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for Americans with disabilities of all ages, races and regions.   Instead of weakening the country as some predicted it might, the ADA is continuing to strengthen America’s core value of individual freedom.  Today, due to the ADA and related laws, more students with disabilities are graduating from high school and college.  More Americans with significant disabilities are receiving the support they need to live in the community rather than languishing in institutions.  Stores, restaurants, businesses, courts, and transit systems are now readily accessible to people with a range of mobility, sensory and other disabilities.  The country’s telecommunications, 911 and other emergency preparedness systems are similarly accessible and usable by those with and without disabilities alike.  The Internet and other digital technologies are transforming barriers into opportunities in education, employment and many other facets of American life. 

President George H. W. Bush declared that the ‘shameful walls of exclusion’ must fall when he signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990. Tremendous progress has been made, however to make the promise of the ADA a reality for millions of Americans with disabilities, there is still much work to be done. Barriers to full equality of opportunity persist.  This is particularly true with regard to promoting the improved long-term employment, economic self-sufficiency and genuine financial well-being of working age Americans with disabilities and their families. 

In an effort to address these discrepancies in employment opportunity, Congress created the Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency Program. Like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Ticket program is a work in progress.  Since its inception, the program has equipped more than a quarter of 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.  The ADA and the Ticket are working to improve our country. 

To learn more about how Ticket to Work and Work Incentives can work for you or someone you know, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

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An Open Message to Social Security Disability Beneficiaries from Associate Commissioner Bob Williams

Every year, thousands of people with disabilities find jobs and leave behind Social Security disability benefits to support themselves and create better futures.  As you think about going to work, Social Security wants you to be confident in your choice and to understand what Ticket to Work is all about:

Bob Williams photo

  • The Ticket program offers you the help you need to work, earn more money, and support yourself as much as possible.
  • The Ticket program is voluntary. You decide if it’s right for you.
  • Ticket to Work gives you the choice to partner with an approved Employment Network (EN) or your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agency to get the career counseling, job placement, ongoing support, and other services you need to be able to become or stay employed or find a better job.
  • The goal of Ticket is for you to earn a better quality of life through work than you had on benefits and to give you a safety net while you work toward supporting yourself.
  • By participating in the Ticket program, you are agreeing to try your best to earn your way off cash benefits.
  • Social Security understands that going to work is a major change, and if you can’t completely eliminate your need for cash benefits, you won’t be blamed.
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The Ticket to Work Program May be Right For You!

Working can change your life! If you want to work, Social Security’s Ticket to Work program may be right for you. Listen to Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner for Social Security’s Office of Employment Support Programs message to learn about the Ticket to Work program.

Watch below or the video on our Choose Work YouTube channel.

To learn more about the Ticket program and take the first step toward financial independence, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work, e-mail us at  support@chooseworkttw.net or call our Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

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Williams Praises Employment Choices for People with Disabilities at 2011 TASH Conference

TASH conference photo As a former TASH Board member and officer, Bob Williams knows that TASH has always been a strong ally of children, adults, and older Americans with the most significant disabilities through the very best and worst of times. Born with cerebral palsy, Williams has had a long, public service career and is a recognized expert on issues affecting the health, independence, employment, and economic well-being of people with disabilities.

Since spring of 2011, Bob Williams has served as the Associate Commissioner for employment support at the Social Security Administration. His office leads Ticket to Work, a nationwide employment program  to assist individuals ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to become more financially secure, and fully self-sufficient.

Williams seized this year's 2011 TASH conference theme: "No Excuses: Creating Opportunities in Challenging Times,” to remind attendees that no child should have to wait to be educated alongside their neighborhood friends. Williams declared that no one should have to wait to live a real life or work in a real job for real wages until our nation’s economy gets better.

To access Bob Williams’ full message to the 2011 TASH conference attendees, watch below or the video on our Choose Work YouTube channel.

To learn more about the Ticket program and take the first step toward financial independence, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work, e-mail us at support@chooseworkttw.net, or call our Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

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Social Security's Ticket to Work Program Launches New Choose Work Blog

Bob Williams photo By Featured Blogger Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Employment Support Programs

Hello, I am Bob Williams, the Associate Commissioner for employment support at the Social Security Administration. We run the Ticket to Work program to assist individuals ages 18 through 64 who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who choose to do so to become employed and self-sufficient.

I know firsthand that people with significant disabilities face complex, multiple barriers to working, especially in today's tough economy. I also know however, that going to work, pursuing a career, and earning a decent living is a viable possibility for some people that receive SSDI or SSI benefits. This is where the Ticket to Work program comes in. The Ticket program is strictly voluntary. It offers someone on SSDI or SSI like you the choices, training, opportunities, and support you need to go to work and gain greater financial independence. Many who use the Ticket start off by working part time, attending college, or participating in other training before attempting to work full time. However, it is important to note that individuals who eventually earn their way off cash benefits by being employed can often retain their Medicare or Medicaid coverage as well as restart cash benefits quickly if they find that they can no longer work. The Ticket program is not right for everyone, but if you want to try to explore how work may work for you, I strongly urge you to find out more and call 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD) or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work. Do it today. Your life and future can be better!

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