With the school year ending, you may be thinking about what your future holds. This post offers resources for young people with disabilities who will soon move from school to the workforce. If this describes you, you have come to the right place!

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Help for Young People Considering Their Future - Part 1

Jul 1, 2016

Planning Your Future Begins with Looking in the Mirror

With the school year ending, you may be thinking about what your future holds. This post is part one of our "News and Views" blog series Help for Young People Considering Their Future. It offers resources for young people with disabilities who will soon move from school to the workforce. If this describes you, you have come to the right place to get started! This series will help you make informed decisions about your future. This is a good time to start thinking about:

  • The types of activities you find fulfilling
  • How work may affect your Social Security disability benefits
  • The advantages of finding a mentor and planning a career with support
  • Getting involved in volunteer work, internships and work-based experiences

If you are 18 or older and get Social Security disability benefits, you can get free career guidance and other employment supports through Social Security's Ticket to Work program!

"So, what are you going to do next?"

There's a good chance you've heard this question! There's a lot to consider as you bring your future into focus, particularly if you have a disability. You may be one of the lucky people who knew from an early age what you wanted to do. For the rest of us, thinking about life after school and the "real world" is daunting.

With the right help and accommodations, millions of workers with disabilities have had successful careers. Here are some reasons they gave for why the benefits of pursuing work outweigh the risks:

  • "I felt a purpose, joy, and the confidence to learn new things."
  • "I am self-sufficient because I work. The money I make gives me the freedom to enjoy life."
  • "Work connects me to others..."

Planning your future begins with a look in the mirror

Making decisions about your future is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. It is best to approach career planning as a process rather than as a single decision. Think of it as a journey in which you will experience many influencing factors. The most satisfying journeys include others who offer encouragement and guidance along the way.

  • To engage a professional who can help you, begin with a Ticket to Work guidance counselor. A guidance counselor can help you identify what motivates you and help you explore your personal qualities, interests, skills and support needs.
  • When you're ready to look for work, Ticket to Work providers can also help. Transition planning prepares you to set goals, plan future activities, and identify relevant and fruitful training or work experiences.

What will work mean for my disability benefits?

Most people with disabilities find they benefit from the income and well-being that accompany paid employment. Some rely on a low, fixed income because they aren't aware of rules that can protect their Social Security disability benefits. These rules are called work incentives. It may have taken you and your family years to get the health care and services you rely on and it can be tempting to avoid working if you're afraid of losing these supports. These fears are understandable, but don’t let them discourage you from trying work.

You can work and still get Social Security disability benefits. Rules called Work Incentives can make it easier for people who get Social Security disability benefits to gain work experience by allowing them to:

  • Keep Medicare or Medicaid coverage while working
  • Work while getting cash benefits for a time during their transition to work
  • Get their benefits back if they can’t keep working
  • Keep more of their work income and build up their savings

Because everyone's situation differs, it's a good idea to consult a qualified professional known as a benefits counselor. A benefits counselor can help you understand how work will affect your benefits. To find one, use the Find Help tool on this site or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at the number below. You can learn about Work Incentives by registering for a free Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) online and by reading Social Security's Red Book.

Check back with News and Views for the next installment of Help for Young People Considering Their Future, which will cover the benefits of finding a mentor and career planning with support. If you have questions about Ticket to Work, please call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or visit our website at www.choosework.net.

Notes and Sources:

  • To learn about others who weighed the risks and rewards of job hunting and have useful stories to share, read or watch Ticket to Work Success Stories at www.choosework.net/success-stories.
  • This piece stems from the following sources (excerpts may be included):

Check out other News and Views installments of Help for Young People Considering their Future:

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