Image of MartyWe recently caught up with Marty, who was featured in a Ticket to Work success story, to find out his advice on returning to an industry with a disability. Discover tips on how to adapt your skills to new responsibilities as your return to work.

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Success Story Follow-Up: Returning to Work with Marty

Oct 31, 2017

Picture of Marty standingWe recently caught up with Marty, who was featured in a Ticket to Work (Ticket) program success story. Marty was a self-employed contractor and carpenter. Specializing in building new homes, he enjoyed helping people turn their dream homes into a reality. Marty holds a degree in construction management, but always preferred the physical, hands-on aspect of his home-building business.

But in December 2006, he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. Even with treatment, the cancer traveled through his muscles and bones, and in 2007, doctors had to amputate Marty's arm. Marty began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and as he regained his health, he started thinking about his path back to work.

With the help of the Ticket program, Marty found a job working with a large building restoration company and no longer receives SSDI. Marty's been with the same company for more than 4 years. You can read more about Marty's path to financial independence in his Ticket to Work success story.

When we chatted with Marty about his path to financial independence, he offered insight on how you can use your work experience to return to work in a new role.

Marty's Advice

Highlight what you know: "I was in a more hands-on role before. I went back into the same industry, but a different part of it. Now I'm a project manager and estimator for a bigger company. I give the orders and let someone else do the hands-on stuff." Because of Marty's experience running his own construction business, he found that it didn't take him long to retrain for his new job. "It was basically what I had done my whole working life, just in management."  

Consider your experience or education: Before finding his current job, he had considered taking design classes to learn more about computer-aided drafting (CAD) drawings used in designing buildings. "It would have taken another 2 years to get the degree that I needed," Marty recalls. "So I thought, why not get my toes back in the water, but in management." If you're considering additional education before returning to work, an Employment Network (EN) may be able to help you find training programs or help you find a different path that doesn't require the time or cost of more classes.

Learn on the job: Once Marty started working again, he realized how important using new technology was to his role. He became more comfortable using text and email for communications and using a computer to calculate estimates and keep projects organized. "I also had training courses through work, paid for by my employer."

The Ticket program can help: Marty says the counselor he worked with at his EN, Certified Rehabilitation Services, still checks in with him to see how he's doing. But in the beginning, she was able to show him how to put himself back into the job market. "Everything is online now. The last time I had to put together a resume, you wrote it on the typewriter and sent it out. So she taught me how to properly put my resume together and get it to employers."

And Marty has one more piece of advice for jobseekers:

"Don't be discouraged, and don't let anyone tell you or convince you that you can't do it. You may just need to figure out a new way to achieve your goal."

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 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

You can 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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