Thumbnail of AngelMeet Angel, a Ticket to Work success story and Air Force veteran. Angel returned to work and regained financial independence with support from the Ticket Program. "In the Air Force, your wingman is by your side as you face uncertainty… In a way, the Ticket Program brings the wingman concept into the civilian workforce." Angel said.

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Ticket at 20: Spotlight on Angel

Aug 12, 2020

Poster of Angel smilingThis 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!

Meet Angel!

After 2 tours of duty and extensive damage to his neck and back, Angel found he couldn't keep up with the physical demands of military service. Discharged from the Air Force on medical retirement, transitioning back to civilian life as a Wounded Warrior came with its own set of challenges.

"I was in constant pain," Angel said. "I was just 30 and could no longer move or work as I had once done. I fell into a deep depression."

Angel returned home to Puerto Rico to help raise his growing family, and begin medical treatment. With the help of a counselor at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Angel began receiving his military retirement benefits and learned that he qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which he began receiving in 2012.

Angel focused on his recovery with great determination and from 2012 to 2016 he worked with orthopedic surgeons, occupational and physical therapists, a rheumatologist, pain management specialists and a neurosurgeon to overcome the mobility-restricting effects of his arthritis and musculoskeletal injuries.

In 2016, his health took a turn for the worse: he had thyroid cancer. "I thought that was the end," Angel said. "I was overwhelmed by the weight of disability and illness."

But he kept fighting and after another surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Angel recovered by the end of the year.

In 2017, firmly on the road to recovery, Angel started thinking about his future, including his plans to return to work. That's when he learned that his friend's employer, a Virginia-based federal contractor, was hiring for an Information Technology (IT) position that matched his experience. As a federal contractor, this employer takes affirmative action under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act to hire and retain qualified people with disabilities.

Angel's experience made him a good fit for the job, and his willingness to identify as an individual with a disability was an asset during the hiring process. Once he was offered the full-time position with the federal contractor supporting the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Angel had questions about what full-time work would mean for his benefits.

"I was a young man with a family to support," he said. "… and I was not ready to give up on the workforce. But my medical conditions are chronic. Flare-ups are unpredictable and could interfere with work."

Angel learned about Social Security's Ticket Program and called the Ticket to Work Help Line to find the answers he needed.

The Ticket Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, service providers, known as Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies, offer a range of support services to help people prepare for, find, or maintain employment.

Angel connected with an EN called The Choice Group and received free benefits counseling. His Benefits Counselor told him about other Social Security Work Incentives that can help adults with disabilities explore and transition to work as they continue to receive Medicare or Medicaid and some or all of their disability benefits.

Armed with knowledge about Work Incentives and supports and services from his EN, Angel had the confidence he needed to transition to the workplace and request reasonable accommodations to help him succeed.

"Being back at work has had a positive impact in so many areas of my life," Angel said. "I've been able to [show] my children the rewards that can go with perseverance and resilience. The job has helped me build confidence, maintain good mental health, and regain a sense of accomplishment… all vital for the next chapter in our lives."

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

Find your path to success!

The Ticket Program and other Work Incentives helped Angel 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.

Stay Informed by Subscribing to Texts from Ticket to Work!

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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