By participating in the Ticket to Work program, you will have access to a wide variety of free services provided to you by Ticket to Work service providers. These service providers can become your “Employment Team,” ready to support you on your journey to financial independence.
Here are the types of service providers that can assist you:
- Employment Networks (EN): are private or public organizations that can help with career counseling and assistance with job placement, including helping understand how benefits may be affected by work.
- Workforce ENs: are ENs that are also part of a state’s public workforce system. Workforce ENs provide access to a wide array of employment support services, including training programs and special programs for youth in transition and veterans.
- Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies: usually work with individuals who need more significant services. In some states, this includes intensive training, education and rehabilitation. They may also provide career counseling, job placement assistance and counseling on the effect that working may have on Social Security disability benefits.
- Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA) projects: are organizations within your community that are authorized by Social Security to provide free benefits counseling to Social Security disability beneficiaries to help you make informed choices about work.
- Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS): represent eligible beneficiaries to remove barriers to successful employment and will help you understand your rights regarding conditions of employment.
Employment Networks (EN)
An Employment Network (EN) is a public or private organization that contracts with Social Security to provide free employment support services to Social Security disability beneficiaries ages 18 through 64. EN services may include:
- Career Planning
- Job Leads and Job Placement
- Ongoing Employment Support
- Benefits Counseling
Some ENs only provide services to their local community, while others provide services across one or more states. There are also ENs that provide services nationwide. You will work with some ENs in person, some over the phone and some via email or a website.
Some ENs are also part of a state’s public workforce system. These workforce ENs provide access to additional employment support services including training programs and special programs for youth in transition and veterans. A Ticket to Work participant who assigns their ticket to a Workforce EN will either work with a Workforce EN directly or via other providers in the workforce system, including American Job Centers.
If you choose to work with an Employment Network, it’s important to choose one that will provide the services you need to support your work goals. Not all ENs provide the same services so it’s important to talk with as many ENs as possible to see what they have to offer before assigning your ticket. Our fact sheet, “Choosing the Right Employment Network for You,” will guide you through the decision making process. Once you have an understanding of what an EN can do for you, use the "Finding an EN and Assigning Your Ticket Worksheet," to keep track of the ENs you've contacted and to know what important questions to ask them.
Workforce (WF) Employment Networks
Workforce ENs are ENs that are also part of a state’s public workforce system. Workforce ENs provide access to a wide array of employment support services, including training programs and special programs for youth in transition and veterans. A Ticket to Work participant who assigns their ticket to a Workforce EN will either work with a Workforce EN directly or via other providers in the workforce system, including American Job Centers.
Workforce ENs can be operated at the state level, (by a state workforce agency or a state Workforce Investment Board, or WIB) or at the local level (by an American Job Center or a local WIB). It is also possible a group of local Workforce agencies join together and operate as a single regional EN, with one agency being the lead agency and serving as the primary point of contact. However they are organized, the Workforce ENs listed in the Find Help tool for your ZIP Code will help you assign your ticket and connect you to services.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies
You can also work with your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies furnish a wide variety of services to help people with disabilities return to work. These services are designed to provide the client with the training and other services that are needed to return to work, to enter a new line of work, or to enter the workforce for the first time.
VR services may include:
- Intensive Training
- Career Counseling
- Job Placement Assistance
- Benefits Counseling
Some states also have separate VR agencies that serve individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
VR can help you get ready to work, and, if necessary, you can then find an Employment Network or EN who can help you keep your job and make more money. This arrangement is called Partnership Plus.
Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA) Projects
WIPA projects are organizations within your community that provide free benefits counseling to Social Security disability beneficiaries to help them make informed choices about work. WIPA projects offer a range of services to help you understand your options if you choose to pursue work. WIPAs are staffed by Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) who provide in-depth counseling about working, earning more money, and how working may affect your benefits.
Working with a WIPA can help you:
- Understand the rules of specific Work Incentives and how they apply to you
- Decide whether the Ticket to Work program is right for you
- Understand the potential benefits of employment as a person who receives disability benefits from Social Security while dispelling the myths about working
- Analyze how work and earnings may impact your Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), health care, and other public benefits
- Understand the services provided by a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency or an Employment Network (EN), and how they might fit best with your needs
Once you begin working, WIPA projects can also provide information and support to help you make a successful transition to work and financial independence.
Working with a WIPA project is often a first step for beneficiaries who want to go to work.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)
The Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program helps people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and have a disability-related employment issue. PABSS advocates provide legal support, advocacy and information to assist beneficiaries to resolve employment-related concerns.
This may include:
- Navigating organizations and services to support your efforts to work and protect your rights such as appealing decisions of a vocational rehabilitation agency or Employment Network
- Requesting reasonable accommodations in your workplace, college classes, training courses, and licensing programs
- Other disability-based legal issues that are barriers to employment, such as transportation
PABSS services are located throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. They are free to everyone who receives Social Security disability benefits.