Monday, November 14, 2016

Ticket to Work Program, how to make it work for you



The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) assesses the disability-related limitations of Virginia residents with disabilities who apply for services and assigns them to one of several categories according to the severity of their limitations.  To maintain a balance between the number of applicants for services and the number of open cases they can serve effectively, DARS closes categories and establishes waiting lists as needed.  This process is called Order of Selection.  Currently, applicants in all categories are being placed on waiting lists.  This has happened before.  As they are able, DARS Counselors offer services to applicants to reduce and eliminate the waiting lists.  Individuals currently seeking services are encouraged to apply and will be served as soon as possible.  It is important to note that DARS continues to serve thousands of open cases across the Commonwealth.

The Ticket to Work program may offer another alternative to those who are on waiting lists for DARS services if they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  The Social Security Administration has developed the Ticket to Work program to offer support to disability beneficiaries whose goal is to transition off cash benefits to employment and self-sufficiency.  The Choice Group is a service provider (Employment Network) in the Ticket to Work program.  In an effort to offer services to SSI and SSDI beneficiaries across the state, we are promoting Ticket to Work services in a variety of ways:

1) DARS clients:
Under the Partnership Plus program, we are able to offer ongoing supports to SSI and SSDI beneficiaries whose cases are closed successfully by DARS if their goal is to work their way off cash benefits, while still having the option to keep their medical benefits.

2) Individuals who are not DARS clients:

  • We can help eligible individuals understand the effects of earned income on their benefits and their eligibility for any work incentives, determine a vocational goal, develop a resume, prepare for interviews, request accommodations, transition into jobs that are a good match for their skills/interests/abilities, and provide ongoing supports for a total of five to seven years (depending on the program).  If the individual is on a DARS waiting list, and DARS subsequently contacts them to offer services, we will collaborate with the client and DARS to “unassign” the Ticket and facilitate a transfer to DARS services.  
  • The Choice Group is also part of an exciting new Social Security initiative to reach out to beneficiaries in the Commonwealth to provide them information about the Ticket to Work program and offer them the opportunity to participate.  

3) Administrative Employment Networks:
The Choice Group welcomes the opportunity to work with other service providers who are not Employment Networks under the Ticket to Work Program.  The Tickets are assigned to us, we provide administrative support and mentoring to the service provider, and the service provider continues to support the beneficiary transitioning to employment and self-sufficiency.  This is an excellent way service providers can learn about the Ticket to Work program, and offer their clients the option to participate, without becoming an Employment Network.

4) Federal Contractors:
Under recent amendments to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, federal contractors have goals to recruit, hire and maintain employment of individuals with disabilities throughout their organizations.  The Choice Group can help by referring them qualified applicants, as well as supporting current employees with disabilities so they can successfully maintain their employment.

5) Referrals:
The Choice Group actively provides information about the Ticket to Work program to a variety of community partners so they can pass it on within their networks and to their clients as appropriate.

If you would like to get more information about The Choice Group’s Ticket to Work services, please visit our website or call our main office at (804) 278-9151 or toll-free at 1-877-374-5312.

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