Poster of RobRob, a former small business owner, started receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) after receiving a diagnosis of renal failure. With help from the Ticket to Work program, Rob traded his SSDI benefit for a larger paycheck. "I love my job," he says. "The [Ticket] program helped me transition back to stability, and it feels great to have choices again."

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Ticket at 20: Spotlight on Rob

May 21, 2020

This year, we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Ticket to Work (Ticket) program. Join us, as we recognize the achievements of people featured in our success stories in our blog series!

Poster of Rob smiling

Meet Rob!

Rob struggled with his weight since childhood. Eventually, he weighed 550 pounds, and was finding it increasingly difficult to do the things he wanted to do.

Rob, a small business owner, received a diagnosis of renal failure, and his company filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

"Things really started to fall apart," he recalls. "I went into a depression when I had to tell the employees we were going out of business. All these families depended on [me]. I felt terrible."

Rob and his doctors believed his best option would be gastric bypass surgery. The outcome was beyond what they imagined. "The doctors were astonished that the weight came off so quickly," he recalls. "I lost both kidneys, but I also lost 300 pounds, my high blood pressure, and sleep apnea!"

Rob started receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). He had to have dialysis several times a week and he decided to seize the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree. With help from Wisconsin's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), he purchased a laptop and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Classes were online, and he worked on a degree in interdisciplinary studies while waiting for a kidney. A dear friend gave Rob one of her kidneys and Rob's health continued to improve.

Rob's Ticket to Work

After Rob's health improved and he had earned a bachelor's degree, he felt ready to return to work. His VR counselor told him he was eligible to receive free employment support services through Social Security's Ticket to Work program. Social Security disability beneficiaries ages 18 through 64 qualify. A range of services that help people prepare for and find employment are available through VR agencies and authorized providers known as Employment Networks (EN). ENs also offer support services that can help people stay employed or advance in their career.

Rob continued to work with his state VR agency, but when VR closed his case, his counselor referred him to an EN called Employment Resources, Inc. (ERI). ERI would continue where VR left off, providing services to help him succeed in the workforce.

With help from his EN, Rob secured a job he enjoys with the Department of Motor Vehicles. "I process drivers' licenses..." he explains with enthusiasm. "My favorite part of the job is taking people out for their road tests. I meet a lot of interesting people this way, and also come across some welcome familiar faces!"

Rob traded his SSDI benefit for a larger paycheck, and he's not looking back. He says it feels like he has lived several lives and traveled 10,000 miles since the start of his health challenges. He's content, and appreciates having days that are once again fulfilling.

"I love my job," he says. "The people I work with are like family and I get to interact with the community again. When I was sick, I had to give up a lot. The [Ticket] program helped me transition back to stability, and it feels great to have choices again. Ticket to Work … helped me recover them!"

Read Rob's full story and find other success stories!

Find your path to success!

Ticket to Work and other Work Incentives helped Rob find his path to a better future. Find yours!

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (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.

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (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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