Ticket to Work Eases People Back into Workforce
29 May 2018
It’s estimated that Minnesota will have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020. Jobs are already going unfilled, which means creative solutions are needed to address this troubling workforce trend.
The Ticket to Work program is one such solution. This federal initiative of the Social Security Administration is a voluntary program. It helps get people who are disabled, but willing and able to work, back into the workforce.
“Just because someone has a disability doesn’t preclude them from working again. Many jobs are going unfilled while there’s a huge talent pool of people with disabilities who have had to step away from the workforce, but may find they can use their skills perhaps in a new way or with accommodations or modifications,” explains Nancy Stensgard, a disability resource coordinator with the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (RMCEP).
Ticket to Work helps people re-enter the workforce while ensuring they have a safety net in place in case they have a relapse in health or other interruption in their ability to work due to extenuating circumstances.
RMCEP is an affiliate Employment Network under the American Dream Employment Network approved by the Social Security Administration to provide Ticket to Work services throughout its 19-county service area in Minnesota.
Several million Americans who are disabled receive monthly payments from the Social Security administration, in the form of Supplemental Security Income payments or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Many beneficiaries could work at least part time, but they’re concerned about losing cash payments or health coverage if their ability to work changes.
Ticket to Work offers people with disabilities who are aged 18-64 free advising about benefits and work incentives as well as training, job referrals and employment support services. It helps people ease back into meaningful employment opportunities without the fear of being penalized for doing so.
RMCEP works to connect individuals, employers, community partners and service providers with information and resources in order to address barriers to education, training and employment. RMCEP staff help develop career plans that take into account the situation of each individual.
Participants in the Ticket to Work program commit to working with a job developer or coordinator regularly over the course of up to seven years. RMCEP staff provide ongoing support to help participants secure and retain a job as well as assess how their benefits might be affected by employment.
The ultimate goal of the program is full time employment and financial self-sufficiency. But Ticket to Work takes into account the reality that this goal may take longer for some to achieve.
“For someone to be receiving benefits, the disability is a significant enough impairment that they may not sail right back into work without some stops and starts,” says Stensgard, noting that if someone starts with Ticket to Work and is not successful for some reason, they can deactivate their Ticket from the program and try again at a later time.