Check out today’s blog post, You Asked, We Answer! Working with a Federal Contractor, to find answers to top questions from our April Wise Webinar. You’ll learn about what Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 can mean for you career path.

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You Asked, We Answer! Working with a Federal Contractor

May 22, 2017

How do I use

Federal contractors must register with SAM when they do business with the federal government. Many service providers use this site to find federal contractors with job opportunities that fall within Section 503. To search on your own, use these tips:

  • Use the "Search Records" tab on the main menu bar
  • Then use "Advanced Search – Entity" and check "Active Registrations"
  • Use "Entity Type" if you want to narrow your search to a certain type of business
  • Use the "Location" tab to identify organizations in a specific city, state, Congressional district or zip code
  • Use "Socio-Economic Status" if you want to limit your search to minority-, veteran- or women-owned businesses. 

During our April WISE webinar, Ticket to Work: Working with a Federal Contractor, we explored Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 503 defines guidelines for federal contractors to recruit, hire, promote and retain qualified employees with disabilities. Through voluntary self-identification, Section 503 helps job seekers with disabilities find opportunities, get interview requests and get hired.

More than 350 webinar attendees learned what Section 503 could mean for their job searches, and many asked important questions. We've selected the top questions to answer. Read on to learn more, then check out the WISE webinar archives to catch up on all the information presented in April.

Where can I find federal contractors who fall under Section 503?

There are many ways to find federal contractors. One way is to ask a Ticket to Work (Ticket) program service provider to help you find companies and job openings with federal contractors. Service providers include:

  • American Job Centers (AJC): Many AJCs have resources to electronically match job seekers with employers. Find your local AJC.
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and Employment Networks (EN): Many State VR agencies and ENs can help you locate employers. To find an EN or State VR agency that can help, use our Find Help tool.

You may want to ask service providers if they have experience or knowledge helping people with disabilities find jobs with federal contractors.

If you'd like to search on your own, the System for Award Management (SAM) can help you identify companies that work with the federal government and operate under Section 503.

Once you find employers, simply visit their websites to locate job openings.

How do I apply for a job with a federal contractor? Do I have to disclose my disability?

Applying for a job with an employer who falls under Section 503 is like applying for any other job. However, you may choose to self-identify as a person with a disability when applying for these positions. These employers strive to have a diverse and inclusive workforce, which consists of at least 7% of employees with disabilities.

Disclosure is always your personal choice. Voluntary self-identification helps employers meet their recruitment, hiring and career advancement goals. This may open doors to more job opportunities for you.

If you decide to disclose your disability, all information will be kept confidential and separate from other personnel records. It cannot be used in employment decisions.

You won't be penalized if you do not self-identify, but you may not benefit from employers who are motivated to meet or exceed their goal to employ people with disabilities.

I disclosed my disability during the job application process, and now I think I'm being discriminated against because of it. What should I do?

Each state, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, has Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) organizations. These organizations serve Social Security disability beneficiaries who want to work. They can help remove employment barriers and help you understand and protect your employment rights. If you believe you're being discriminated against because you've self-identified as a person with a disability, a PABSS organization can provide services to stop the discrimination and protect you in the future. Visit Choose Work's Find Help tool to find a PABSS organization in your state.

How can I learn more about the Ticket to Work program and my employment options?

Our monthly WISE webinars feature a variety of topics related to the Ticket program. We explore the Social Security Work Incentives, government programs and employment supports available to people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits and want to work. These free webinars are designed to help you learn more about these resources and help you plan for financial independence.

Register now to join us on May 24, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., for the WISE webinar Ticket to Work for People with a Mental Illness.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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