By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. At Social Security, we recognize and appreciate the roles people with disabilities play in the workforce. That’s why we’re celebrating and sharing Matt’s story.
As a job seeker who is deaf and needs accommodations, Matt was reluctant to tell prospective employers about his disability. He worried that employers would not hire him if they knew about his disability.
That’s when Matt connected with our Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program at choosework.ssa.gov. This program supports career development for people ages 18 to 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, approved service providers offer supports and services as participants move toward financial independence through work. Matt found the service providers at choosework.ssa.gov/about/meet-your-employment-team.
Matt’s service provider told him about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it guarantees equal opportunities for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination in the workplace. It accomplishes these goals through:
- Anti-discrimination rulesthat prevent private employers from discriminating against qualified people with disabilities when they apply for jobs. See ssa.gov/blog/2018-07-26-the-eeoc-and-discrimination.
- Regulationsthat require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities.
Matt and his service provider identified accommodations that would allow him to demonstrate his capabilities both during the application process and on the job. They created a plan for him to disclose his disability and request accommodations.
Since Matt also wanted to know how his employment might affect his benefits, his Benefits Counselor told him about our Work Incentives at choosework.ssa.gov/about/work-incentives. These rules and programs make it easier for adults with disabilities to enhance their job skills while maintaining access to benefits. Matt reviewed the process at choosework.ssa.gov/library/fact-sheet-benefits-counseling-and-the-path-to-employment.
Matt also learned about our Medicare-Related Work Incentive at choosework.ssa.gov/library/fact-sheet-medicare-and-medicaid-employment-supports. This allows him to pursue a career without worrying about health care coverage. Matt’s Medicare coverage will continue for more than seven years after he begins full-time work, even if his income exceeds the amount to qualify for disability benefits.
And if Matt’s disability interferes with work, he can return to receiving benefits, without having to file a new application, by using our Expedited Reinstatement Work Incentive process at www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/exr.htm.
Matt now works full-time as a human resource analyst. Thanks to the ADA, he received accommodations for the interview process and time spent on the job. He also found that the Ticket Program helped him find a path to a better future.
The Ticket Program is here to help no matter where you are on your career journey. You can read Matt’s full story at choosework.ssa.gov/library/matt-success-story. Please share Matt’s experience with your friends and family.
Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org