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WISE Webinar 2016-08: Working with a Federal Contractor


>>Good afternoon everyone and welcome to
today’s Ticket to Work webinar, our Work Incentives Seminar Event. Today’s event is titled “Ticket to Work: Working
with a Federal Contractor”. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. There are a couple of different ways you can
access today’s webinar. Many of you are joining us online. You can also access audio online. You can manage your audio using the audio
option at the top of your screen, and that looks like a microphone or telephone icon. Everyone in the audience is muted today, and
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are plugged in. If you’re not able to listen in on the computer,
you can also dial in by phone. We do have a toll-free number today, and that
phone number is 1-800-832-0736. And the access code is 8458462. We do strive to make our webinars as accessible
as possible and we want to make sure that everyone is able to participate fully in our
webinars. So, if you have any tips or suggestions or
if you do have any issues with participating in the webinar, we would like– We want to
hear about those. So, please do let us know and we will review
a couple of our accessibility features over the next slides. Today’s webinar will be captioned in real-time. The captions can be found in the captioning
pod, which appears right below the slides. You will see it streaming as I speak right
now. You can also access the captioning online,
and I will read out this link. To access the captioning online, you can visit,
http://www.captionedtext.com/ client/event.aspx?CustomerID=846&– sorry that was &– EventID=3013934. And if anyone missed that link, feel free
to pop a question in the Q&A box and our team in the background will be able to help. We will have some questions and answers during
this webinar. We’ll be taking breaks throughout the meeting
to answer your questions. To ask a question, you can use the Q&A pod
which you– to the right of the presentation slide. And all you do is type in a question there
and our team in the background will provide an answer or we will address it vocally during
the webinar. If you’re only listening on the phone and
you’re not logged into the webinar, you can ask questions by emailing [email protected] One of our most frequently asked questions
is, will this webinar be archived? And, yes, it will be within two weeks. And you can view it on the Choose Work website
at www.choosework.net. Some of you may have some technical difficulties
during this webinar. If you do experience any technical problems,
please use the Q&A box to send a message or send an email to [email protected] and
we’ll do our best to get an answer to you. We have quite the agenda today. My name is Jayme Pendergraft, I’m with NDI
Consulting and I am providing the welcome and introduction. We are joined by Jennifer Tiller, and she
is from America Works of Washington, DC. And she’ll be talking with us today about
Section 503 with– of the Rehabilitation Act and working with a federal contractor. She’ll also tell us about self-identification
and the reasonable accommodation notification. After Jennifer is done, we’ll hear from Kendra
Berry about what changes to Section 503 mean to people who receive Social Security benefits. She will also talk with us about how your
employment team can help you navigate working with a federal contractor and how your employment
team can help you as they can get [inaudible] in general. We’ll then go over some additional resources
and hopefully have some time at the end for questions and answers. I do want to let everyone know that we have
a very packed agenda today and it’ll be like we will not be able to get to everyone’s questions. But we will provide you with resources throughout
the webinar that can help you get answers to your questions after this webinar. I would like to take a moment to introduce
Jennifer Tiller. Jennifer is the director of America Works
of Washington, DC. America Works DC is kind of the America Works
network of companies that provides employment readiness and [inaudible] and services to
individuals across the United States. Jennifer provides oversight and guidance for
the District of Columbia and federal programs aimed at serving those receiving TANF, [inaudible]
SNAP and other subsidies. Jennifer holds a graduate degree from Marist
College and Syracuse University and professional training from various institutes and government
entities. Her background also includes administration
of similar programs in New York, testimony before Congress and district officials and
advocacy for improved and sustainable social programs. So, Jennifer, thank you very much for joining
us and I will turn it over to you.>>Wonderful. Thanks so much, Jayme. Good afternoon to everyone on the call and
thank you especially to the Social Security Administration for hosting what I think is
a very important discussion. So, I want to start with what exactly is Section
503 of the Rehabilitation Act. And as you can see, for more than 40 years,
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has advanced employment opportunities for individuals with
disabilities, has offered extensive services and worked for development and beyond and
has promoted accessibility for people with disabilities around the country. So, the law works to provide that fair chance
for all to live the American dream and to break down barriers to equality. And to get a little bit more particular about
Section 503, it does require that federal contractors and subcontractors, e.g. companies
that do business with the federal government to take affirmative action steps to actively
recruit, hire, employ, promote and retain qualified individuals with disabilities. On March 24th 2014, provisions of the act
would help contractors recruit and hire qualified people with disabilities were strengthened. Some other highlights include the additional–
or the addition of utilization goals, data collection associated with contractors, invitations
to self-identify, which we’ll talk about shortly, incorporation of the equal opportunity clause
which ensures that our contractors and subcontractors are aware of responsibility and records access,
which we all know is very important in federal contracting and to make sure that we are actually
following through on this particular part of the Rehabilitation Act. So, what is a federal contractor? Federal contractor is a person or company
that contracts with the federal government to provide the services, supplies and/or other
work. And as you can see here, there are examples
of federal contractors include large companies like Coca-Cola, Raytheon, Home Depot. Locally, we have partnered with multiple companies
as well, AlliedBarton, Goodlake, Red Coats, Admiral Security, all of whom work with our
federal government partners to provide the services needed. Some of the updates to Section 503 include
the 7%, which a lot of people hear about. And that is where federal contractors must
strive to ensure that at least 7% of their job groups or workforce depending on the size
of that employer are employees with disability. And federal contractors must also invite job
applicants, new and current employees to voluntarily self-identify as having a disability, which
we are about to speak about. So next, we’ll talk about that self-identification
and reasonable accommodation notification. Self-identification means that you will be
asked to voluntarily identify. And this is both pre and post employment or
post-offer of employment as an individual with a disability to your employer or potential
employer. Federal contractors will provide a special
self-identification form to applicants and employees. And if you do utilize the link offered here
in the PowerPoint, you can see what that form looks like and all of the details within it. And you have the opportunity to self-identify,
as I said, before a job offer is made or after the job offer is made which is very important
to know. The form does reference disabilities including
blindness, deafness, diabetes, PTSD, et cetera. It’s also important to know that disabilities
do go beyond what’s listed in the form. And that is something that we’ll talk about
momentarily, but it should be noted multiple times, it’s not an all-inclusive list of disabilities. So, why would someone be asked to complete
that form? And it really helps to measure how well our
federal contractors are doing. The applicants and employees are asked to
complete the form, which asks if you have or have ever had a disability. Completing this form is voluntary, meaning
that whether or not you do it is your choice, no one can force you to do such, again, completely
voluntary. Also, if you are applying for a job or already
work for a contractor, any answer you give will be kept private and will not be used
against you in any way. The utmost confidentiality is associated with
the self-identification form. You may voluntarily self-identify as having
a disability on this form without fear of any punishment because you did not identify
as having a disability earlier, again, referencing that it can happen pre and post-offer of employment. No one from the hiring side of the company
will see this form. It is only used by the human resources department,
not the individual who necessarily is responsible for the interview, hire and offer. So, how do you know if you have a disability? And this is something that we deal with daily
when we’re working with our beneficiaries. If you have a physical, mental or medical
condition, that’s substantially one of you and considering major life activities, or
if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition. Important here on the slide is to make sure
that as a beneficiary and with all of us that we continue to maintain our own personal records
so that in cases where the record is needed, the records are available. And then also, talk a little bit about reasonable
accommodations associated with the self-identification form. So, in terms of employment, a reasonable accommodation
is any modification or adjustment to the job, the work environment, that enables a qualified
applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or
to perform essential job functions. Federal law does require employers to provide
reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities unless it causes undue hardship
to the employer. If you do need a reasonable accommodation
to apply for a job or to perform your job, ask to speak to the employer’s affirmative
action compliance officer. This could be anything like making a change
to the application process or overall work procedure. It could be providing documents in an alternate
format. Using a sign language interpreter or using
specialized equipment, that can include sit/stand desk, that could include IT equipment that
is amended to suit your needs. And now, I’m going to hand it over to Jayme
for a continuation of the discussion on what Section 503 means to people who receive Social
Security benefits.>>Thank you so much, Jennifer. We’re actually going to take a moment to pause
and ask you some questions. And I do want to remind everyone in the audience
that you can submit questions in the Q&A pod which is to the right side of the slide. You can also send questions to [email protected]
if you’re not logged on to the webinar console. So, Jennifer, we have a couple people wondering
how they can find out if someone is a federal contractor and how they can find federal contractors
in their area.>>So, my best piece of advice at this juncture
during this webinar is to talk to an employment network about what in that particular area
who are federal contractors because they do vary. I am in Washington, DC, so there’s a vast
amount of federal contractors. Other areas might not have as many. So, connect with your local employment network
for further information.>>And, Jennifer, that actually leads to my
next question. I know America Works DC is an employment network. So, you can tell us what that is?>>Absolutely. So, an employment network is an agency that
works with SSI, SSDI beneficiary to help reenter the workforce or pursue perhaps education
alternatives, advanced education, et cetera. America Works of Washington, DC specializes
in employment, particularly full-time employment. And so, we provide an array of employment
readiness training, that we do a variety of referrals and supportive services to mitigate
any barriers that are presenting that may not allow employment. And then, we help place people and guide them
back into full-time employment with the ultimate goal of either reducing or removing oneself
from receiving SSI or SSDI and really– and making sure that the person meets the potential
that they can.>>Great, thank you. And as an employment network, have you ever
helped anyone find a Section 503 position?>>Yeah. We have most definitely served them. We also partner closely with the Office of
Personnel Management to ensure that our individuals who are looking at federal-oriented jobs including
the contractors to understand the resume process. And we ensure that we’re constantly looking
at qualified contractors to make sure that all of our beneficiaries have access to those
open positions.>>That’s great. I’m going to switch gears a little bit and
ask you some questions about reasonable accommodation. You did reference a reasonable accommodation
form. How can people find out what reasonable accommodations
might work for them? Can the EN help with that? Can the employer help? How do they figure out what they might need?>>Actually, we found that both the employment
network as well as the employer. When an employment network does their intake
and orientation, we do an extensive review of what the person needs to return to the
workforce and the capacity that they are able and if they did [inaudible]. And a lot of times, those reasonable accommodations
come out in that conversation. So, I advise anybody on this call to make
sure that you really partner closely with your employment network and really tell them
what it is that you want, what it is that would make you achieve that goal, and what
it is that you need. Because then, we can also look to our employer
partners and ensure that those reasonable accommodation do not cause that employer undue
hardship as I mentioned, and that they can work for you.>>Thanks, Jennifer. I would also refer people to the job accommodation
network. Our live webinar last month was actually presented
by JAN as they are referred to. And the archives are available on our website
at choosework.net. They provided a lot of information on reasonable
accommodation. Jennifer, somewhat related, how can people
explain a gap in their employment if they stopped working because of their disability?>>Sure. We get this a lot with a variety of gaps in
employment. And what we do is we look at maybe some alternative
activities that the person participated in, many of our beneficiaries and volunteers. If not, if there has been really no activity
dealing with health and well-being, we really just sort of worry about it for the interview
process and ensure that we work with employer partners to understand that sometimes personal
circumstances prevent consistent work. But it’s all about the presentation. And, you know, some of our folks maybe have
gone to school. So, we really try to find some type of activity
that has been done. If not, we’d leave the gap. And I know that that goes against a lot of,
you know, common conversation about this topic. And then, we focus on the interview portion.>>Thank you. And again, somewhat related, we do have someone
out there wondering if an employer can ask about your specific disability.>>No, that is against the law, when interviewing,
I should say.>>Great, thank you. You also mentioned something about maintaining
records. Did you mean personal records or medical records?>>Well, really medical records. We find that particularly, if we partner with
some federal contractors or [inaudible] disability, one contractor, they will need documentation
of the disability upon hire for their human resources department. And we have been finding, especially recently,
that many people have not maintained personal health records or documentation from their
physician locating the disability, which ends up preventing folks from moving smoothly into
employment. There ends up being a lot of back and forth
with physician’s offices and making sure that we get that documentation that might be missing. So, I always advise everyone in any facet
of your life to make sure that you maintain proper records.>>Great. Thank you, Jennifer. I think we’re going to take a break from questions
here. And I will hand it over to Kendra Berry. Kendra has presented with us many times in
the past. So, welcome back and thank you for joining
us, Kendra. Kendra is the supervising community work incentives
coordinator with Indiana Works. She graduated from Purdue and began working
with developmentally disabled adults. Kendra has worked as a chief manager in a
community mental health center as well. Since 2007, Kendra has been providing benefits
counseling to individuals aged 14 to retirement, helping them understand how working will impact
their Social Security disability benefits and other state and federal benefits they
may receive. So, once Kendra is done, we’ll take some questions
for Kendra and probably leap back with Jennifer as well. So Kendra, take it away.>>Thanks, Jayme. As Jayme said, my name is Kendra and I work
for one of the WIPA projects. WIPA is Work Incentives Planning and Assistance. We help people who receive SSDI or SSI understand
how work will impact their benefit. So, let’s start with talking about Section
503 with defining what SSDI and SSI stands for. SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance. And this is for people who worked in the past,
they paid their taxes and they become insured under their own work records. Some of you, if your disability started before
the age of 22, you could be receiving against a parent’s record, and in this is also a type
of SSDI. The other main disability program is SSI or
Supplemental Security Income. Supplemental Security Income is for people
who haven’t worked a lot in the past or for people who didn’t work close to the time when
they became disabled. A lot of times, you’ll see this with women. Someone may have started working at the age
of 16 and worked 40 hours a week up until they were 23. And then they have children. And maybe their disability started when they
were 30. They would not qualify for SSDI because they
hadn’t worked within five years of the time that their disability started. So, they would qualify for SSI. It’s important to understand that there are
two programs because the work incentives associated with them are so very different. Some of you on the call may be receiving both
SSDI and SSI. And that’s what’s known as concurrent beneficiaries. You’ve taken the first step to join this call
to learn about how you can return to work and some of the provisions that are out there
to help you find a good job. Another step that you can take is to contact
your local WIPA and they’ll give benefits counseling for you for free. They’ll explain what work incentives are available
to you and how working will impact, not only your SSDI or SSI, but also Medicaid, Medicare,
food stamps, HUD, any benefits you may be receiving. For the purposes of this presentation, it’s
just important to understand that receiving one of these benefits does make you classified
as disabled. So, what do the changes to Section 503 mean
for you? Section 503 makes job opportunities available
to qualified people with disabilities, including those who receive Social Security disability
benefits. So, everyone on the call who’s receiving SSI
or SSDI, you are a perfect candidate for the jobs available through Section 503. The Ticket to Work program can help connect
you with these jobs, many of which are with businesses that do work with the government. I’m sure that you’ve heard of people who have
government jobs before and the great benefits that come with that including, you know, you
get state holidays off or you have great insurance opportunities. And that really is something to keep in mind. You are the perfect candidate for these jobs,
and you can get connected with either an employment network like Jennifer was talking about, or
with your vocational rehabilitation to learn more about the jobs available to you. So, what is the Ticket to Work program? I’m sure you have seen TTW and there’s a TTW
helpline. And you’ve heard about the Ticket to Work,
but what does it really mean? The Ticket to Work program is a free and voluntary
Social Security program. It offers career development for people aged
18 through 64 who receive Social Security benefits. And the big deal about it being free is that
you get to choose how it works for you. You get to choose the portions of the Ticket
to Work program that you want to utilize. Some examples of the free services through
the Ticket to Work program are the services that my agency offers through the WIPA. Free benefits counseling so that you know
what will happen to your benefits before you go to work. You can also get connected with an employment
network or your local vocational rehabilitation. And you can receive free job coaching, free
resume preparation, free assistance with interviewing. Some of you may not have worked for a few
years now, and maybe you’re nervous about getting back into the workforce. The purpose of the Ticket to Work program
is to allow you to get access to agencies that can help you with the process. It can be really scary to go look for a job
now. If you’ve been out of work for a few years,
a lot of things have changed. Everything is online now, so a lot of applications,
you’re going to be doing through the computer. Even interviews have switched to being through
programs like Skype or Hangouts. A perfect example is this presentation. I am sitting in my office in Indiana and Jennifer
is in Washington, DC, Jayme is in Virginia, I believe. So, we are all over the country and we have
all come together to give this presentation. The Ticket to Work offers you the chance to
renew your skills, get some help in getting ready to find a job and then get help keeping
that job. So, what– The businesses that work with the
federal government want to hire qualified people with disabilities. What does that mean? The businesses that do work with the federal
government are hiring for jobs with a variety of experience and education levels, meaning
you don’t have to have a master’s degree to be a good applicant for all of these jobs. They’re looking for people for different positions
at all levels of education and experience. The plus to utilizing the Ticket to Work program
in addition to it being free, which I’ll probably mention 10 more times, is that getting connected
with an agency, like an employment network or vocational rehabilitation, you could even
take some classes. If you need to maybe redo your skills on computer
programs or you want to learn how to use typical office equipment like telephones that have
a number of lines connected to them or fax machines. You can get that educational training and
be an even better candidate for some of these positions. Some of the positions may offer flexible options
for how and where employees work. I mentioned that I am sitting here in my office
in Indiana. My office is actually in my home. My position as a grant contracted employee
with the government, we happen to work at home. So, it’s been a great fit for me. It’s also a great fit for my employees. We are located throughout the state of Indiana. We meet together weekly via telephone conferences
and video chats, and we actually only get together in person every two to three months. So, it’s amazing to know that there really
are positions out there with flexible options. I’m sure you’ve heard everyone say they want
to work at home. And you’ve heard talk of these work at home
jobs, but people question, are they legit. Is this a shady job? Using the Ticket to Work in getting connected
with agencies, they can help you determine what is a real job and what’s something that
may not be the best fit for you. They are beginning to view job seekers with
disabilities as an untapped pool of qualified talent. Jennifer talked to you a lot about the regulations
in 503. And it’s important to realize that disclosing
about your disability can open some doors for you. It’s not going to cause you to be discriminated
against. And it’s totally up to you. I was a job coach before I did benefits counseling. And I know working at a mental health center,
we had a lot of discussions with our consumers about whether or not they should disclose
that they have a disability. With mental illness and with a lot of other
disabilities, you can’t necessarily see that someone is disabled. You don’t have to disclose. And sometimes, that’s a good thing, and sometimes
it’s a bad thing. It’s important to talk about your specific
situation with the agencies you’re working with. If you choose an employment network or vocational
rehabilitation, you will be working with someone one-on-one, with a job coach or a caseworker,
whatever their title is. But they will be able to help you make the
decisions. Do you disclose your disability, how do you
disclose your disability. If at any point through the job process, if
you go to an interview and you feel that you have been discriminated against because of
your disability, you also have other agencies available to help you. Disability Rights is what was previously known
as Protection and Advocacy. And they are located nationally. Every state has a Disability Rights. And what they do is they can assist you in
determining was there a discrimination and they will help you solve the situation. And that can mean talking to the employer
that you feel discriminated against you or it could mean bringing a lawsuit. It depends on the situation. But it’s important for you to know that if
at any point you ever feel that way, you have recourse, you have someone who’s there to
help you. That’s the main thing you should take away
from this presentation. The Ticket to Work program is free and voluntary
and there to help you. It’s also important to know that the Section
503 jobs were created to hire people with disabilities. So, there are jobs out there that would be
a good fit for every single person listed. As of right now, it looks like we have almost
500 people listening in on this call. There is a job out there for you. Is it going to take time to find it? Yes, totally is. I’m not going to minimize that at all. But the jobs are out there and the assistance
in finding them is out there as well. So, I’ve talked a lot now about your employment
team and you’ve heard us talk about employment networks and vocational rehabilitation. You can go online and you can look up all
of these different agencies, but everything is going to be with an acronym. So, you’re going to see this EN in this blue
triangle and this VR in this, I’m going to call the sideways triangle. And they are going to be the resources you
want to click on. Jennifer introduced you to the topic of employment
networks by explaining that the agency she’s with is one. Employment networks are organizations and
agencies that enter into an agreement with Social Security to provide free employment
services, vocational rehabilitation services and other types of support services to people
receiving Social Security disability benefits with disabilities under the Ticket to Work
program. Again, free. Have I mentioned that this is a free service? The best thing about employment networks is
that a lot of them are going to be local to you. An example here in Indiana is Goodwill is
an employment network. And they’re located across the state. If you choose a local employment network,
you’re going to be able to meet with someone in person and they’re going to be able to
assist you in person in going through the process of returning to work. And for some of you listening, maybe you’re
just at the first stages of thinking about returning to work. And that’s fine as well. Going back to what my agency does, with the
work incentive, planning and assistance, that can be a great place to start. The biggest fear a lot of people have is that
going to work will cause them to lose their benefits and they won’t be able to pay their
bills. Some of you probably took you years to get
your SSDI or SSI approved, and that can be really scary. So, if you’re just at that beginning stage,
maybe you would start with doing the benefits counseling first so that you could find out
if you went to work 30 hours a week, this is what would happen to your benefits and
these are the work incentives available to you. For those of you who maybe are ready to start
looking for a job and putting in applications in employment network, it’s going to be a
great place for you to start. Jayme is going to give you a list of additional
resources later, and I’m also going to go over some. And you’ll be able to choose from employment
networks that are local or national. I’ve explained how the local ones work and
how you’ll meet with them in person. The national employment networks are available
to you if you don’t maybe need as much assistance. The national employment network has some other
benefits of assigning your ticket to them. But the biggest benefit is that once you choose
an employment network to assign your Ticket to Work to, you won’t have any continuing
disability reviews. You know that paperwork that Social Security
sends you every one, three, five or seven plus years? It’s usually two pages, front and back. And they ask you what’s your disability, when
were you diagnosed, who is your doctor, when was the last time you saw your doctor, what
medications do you take. It’s called a continuing disability review,
and it’s sent to you to verify if you’re still disabled. While your ticket is assigned and in use with
an employment network or vocational rehabilitation, you won’t receive that paperwork, so it is
a huge benefit to you. It gives you the chance to look for a job
without worrying that Social Security is going to decide that you are not disabled anymore. Employment services or employment network
services may include career planning. They can help you do some interest testing
and to decide on what would be a good field for you if you’re not quite sure what you
would like to do for a job. They can provide job leads and job placements. The people who work in employment networks
many times are called job coaches or caseworkers. And what they do when they’re not working
with beneficiaries of Social Security disability benefits, they go out into the community and
they talk to employers. They explain to employers how their program
works and the job coaching assistance that they can provide to the people they work with,
and they try to create partnerships with employers. So, if you walk into a Goodwill and said,
you know, I’m really interested in secretarial work. They may flip through their files and saying,
you know what, we have a great contact that’s looking for a part-time secretary right now. Let’s go ahead and do that application. So, they can help you with job leads that
you may not find on your own. They also provide ongoing employment support,
and this can be in the form of job coaching once you’ve gotten the job. Say you’re doing great on your job, you had
been there a couple of weeks, things are going well, but something happens. Maybe you have a disagreement with a coworker
or you don’t understand how to use a program that they just asked you to use. You could call your job coach and you could
discuss with them what was going on and they can help you. Sometimes, they can help you in person. And other times, they can just talk through
things with you or they could meet with you at their office and show you how to use the
program. So, it’s a benefit to you to have someone
there that you can call if anything happens. They can also do benefits counseling for you. A lot of the employment networks can provide
the same services that my agency provides. Telling you exactly how work will impact your
benefits. And all of these services are free. That is the main benefit of utilizing them. If you want assistance and if you’re just
a little scared of going back to work, this is a great program to use. So, state vocational rehabilitation agencies,
and people I talk to usually feel one of two ways, either they’ve never heard of vocational
rehabilitation or they have heard of vocational rehabilitation and it was a horrible experience
and no, no, no. You should let go of those prejudices and
think about state vocational rehabilitation agencies as someone who’s there to help you. You can, if there’s not an employment network
near you. And this could apply for some of you in more
rural areas. If you live in the country and you just don’t
have a lot of agencies near you to contact to assign your ticket to, state vocational
rehabilitation agencies cover every county in the country. So, you can find one. You may have to drive to them, you may have
to figure out how it’s going to work, but they cover where you live. And vocational rehabilitation agencies can
provide sometimes a few more services than an employment network can provide. An employment network is an agency who provides
job coaching and job placement services. The state vocational rehabilitation agencies
are state and federally funded to help people with disabilities find employment. The benefit to this to going with VR is that
if you would like to pursue education or if you need assistance in purchasing things,
vocational rehabilitation is usually going to be a better choice for you. As you can see, some of the services may include
intensive training, education, rehabilitation, career counseling, job placement assistance
and benefits counseling. So, there’s a few more things listed. Choosing a state vocational rehabilitation
agency can be a great option if you need some additional services. If you want to go back to school, voc rehab
is going to be the way to go. They’re just able to offer more assistance
that way. Let me click ahead. It’s important to talk to your employment
network or your vocational rehabilitation about Section 503. You can ask your EN or VR about the job opportunities
with companies that do work for the federal government. Jennifer talked about the importance of talking
to your local agencies. Like she said, she’s in Washington, DC. She is going to know a lot more about opportunities
than maybe I am going to know in Indiana. So, it’s important to ask. And that’s another plus with the employment
networks. You have the option of choosing an employment
network that is right down the street from you or choosing an employment network that
is halfway across the country from you. So, keep that in mind when you are researching
who to work with. You can also talk with your EN or VR if you
have questions about telling your employer that you have a disability. It can be a big deal to report that you have
a disability. And I think that it’s even harder for those
of you whose disability isn’t noticeable. You have to decide how to tell a potential
employer and even an employer once you’ve been hired that you have a disability. I personally have a disability, and it’s impacted
my travel needs. So I, the first time I went to a conference
out of state, had to get with my employer and sit down with them and explain to them
what I would need. It required me submitting a doctor’s note
explaining what my disability was and then a written request for the accommodation. So, it’s not that difficult but it can still
be scary because it still– You have to tell them personal information. The Ticket to Work program will connect you
with agencies that can help make that process easier. A lot of times, if you can talk through it
with someone, it’s a lot easier to do. The website listed on here is also– or will
be listed in the resource box, and you can visit www.choosework.net/findhelp. And this will be the best way for you to find
an employment network or vocational rehabilitation near you. I hit the arrow and it didn’t work, fun times
with technology. When it comes to choosing an EN, there are
a few tips that I can give you. The first thing to do is think about what
help you would like from your employment network. Are you someone who would like help creating
a new resume, and doing some practice interviews, and having someone just maybe drive you to
and from interviews so that you can talk to them. Or are you someone who doesn’t want any of
that help, you just want someone to be able to call if there’s an issue with your job. Write down what services you would like. And then talk with multiple ENs. When you search, you’re going to be able to
search by state, by ZIP code, by county. You can search a lot of different ways. And it’s going to give you some local employment
networks and some national employment networks. And you have the right to call as many as
you want and find out what’s going to be the best fit for you, what services do they offer
that is going to be the right fit. Ask them questions. You can ask them things like have they worked
with someone with your disability before, or how many job placements did they have last
year, or do they focus on getting people full-time work, or do they know about Section 503. You can ask what other questions are important
to you to help you choose an employment network. The other big thing to remember is that say
you choose your local agency, you choose a Goodwill right down the street. And it’s been three months and you haven’t
had much luck meeting with someone and you don’t think they’ve met your need. It’s totally up to you. You can say that you don’t want to work with
them anymore and you can choose a new employment network. You can do that as often as you want. The point of the Ticket to Work program is
that these services are free and voluntary for you. So if you decide an agency wasn’t a good fit
for you, you do have the right to go to another agency and find a good fit for you. The biggest thing to keep in mind is all of
these should be tailored to you. That should be helping you to reach whatever
your employment goals are. The goal for all of us working with the Ticket
program is to help people work their way off of benefits. And I know that that sounds a little scary
to a lot of people, but it’s not. There are so many work incentives out there
to help you. For those of you on SSI and SSDI, the biggest
work incentive is called expedited reinstatement. And this work incentive says that if you’re
able to work your way off benefits within the five-year period after your benefits have
stopped, if you’re unable to work full-time anymore because of your disability, you can
get your SSI or SSDI started the next month without having to reapply for benefits. So, say you go to work today, end of August
2016, and you’re working full-time and your check stops sometime in 2017. If something happens in 2020, if your disability
gets worse and your doctor says it’s just not a good idea for you to work full-time
anymore, it’s within a five-year period of your benefit stopping. If it happens in June, you can go to the Social
Security office in June and tell them you need to request expedited reinstatement, and
your Social Security check will start up in July. And that’s honestly my favorite work incentive
and the biggest deal for most people. Because I’m sure, a lot of you have to fight
to get your Social Security in the first place. And that’s usually the biggest fear people
have is that it took them so long to get on benefits, they’re afraid to go off because
they don’t want to have to go through that process again. This work incentive covers that. And it says there, there’s nothing wrong with
taking a chance to go to work and see what’s going to be a good fit for you. Couple other resources for you, and these
are all at the chooseworkttw site. And there will be links in the resource box. I’m going to read this link to you though. So, bear with me. It’s https://www.chooseworkttw.net/ library/
choosing-the-right-employment-network-for-you. I was smiling as I say these because I’m sure
it’s very difficult to write them down as I say them. But it helps for the captioning and it helps
for the recordings being done with this presentation. If you’re looking to find an EN and assign
your ticket worksheet which will give you some questions to ask as you are interviewing
employment networks. You can visit http://www.chooseworkttw.net/
library/ finding-EN-assigning -your-ticket-worksheet. And these are just some resources for you to help you along with the process. Another big resource, and Jayme covered some
of these, but you can call the Ticket to Work helpline and they’ll be able to connect you
with employment network, your local vocational rehabilitation, your local WIPA project for
benefits counseling. That will be a one-stop shop if you would
like to talk to someone, you have them send you information. And then, the other option is to visit the
Choose Work website and you can look online and find everyone in one spot. I hope this has been helpful. I know that it’s a ton of information. The last thing I’m going to share with you
is the find help tool. And this is for visiting the Choose Work website. And this will allow you to search via ZIP
code, services offered, disability types, languages spoken and provider type. So, the
website is a little shorter so it shouldn’t be that bad. It is www.choosework.net/findhelp. That
will allow you to search for the right service provider for you. It’s still worth it to choose a few different
ENs and call them and find out what services they offer and if they can help you. And then you can get connected with everyone
else as well. Again, you took the right step joining us
on this presentation today to learn about returning to work and specifically to learn
about Section 503 and how government agencies and other agencies are looking to hire people
with disabilities. We’ve now given you a lot of tools to help
you get connected with specific agencies to help you understand how work will impact your
benefits as well as get assistance and actually finding a job and keeping a job. It’s totally up to you if you want to return
to work. Just know that the services are out there
to help you along the way, and they’re not going to leave you hanging. And with that, I’m going to turn it back over
to Jayme for some questions, I think.>>Thanks so much Kendra, and thank you for
all of that information. I know Kendra just shared quite a few links
and a lot of resources, and we’re going to continue to share some resources. I’d like to call everybody’s attention to
the resources pod. It’s in the bottom right hand side of your
screen. And that’s where you’ll find a copy of today’s
presentation and an accessible PDF and then the text-only document. So, all of those links and resources are listed
in those documents. And if you are not on the webinar console,
you should have received those links by e-mail when you registered as well or with your registration
confirmation that has gone out on Monday and today. If you did not get those materials, chat in
from the chat box or the Q&A box, I apologize, or send us an e-mail at [email protected] As Kendra mentioned, we’re going to take some
time for some questions. To remind everyone, the Q&A pod is to the
right of the slide. Just type your question in there and we will
do our best to get to them. So Kendra, we have a couple of questions about
what you mentioned regarding protection from continuing disability reviews. And I’m going to ask you to expand a little
bit on that. Someone would like to know if the protection
is just while you’re using the services of an EN until you get a job or is it also during
the time that you’re employed at the job you got?>>It depends. And this will probably be my answer for a
lot of questions that people have. So, let me expand on. It depends. The protection from continuing disability
reviews is for while your ticket is in use with an agency. So what that means is that once you assign
your ticket to either an employment network or a vocational rehabilitation, you will start
looking for a job at that point. After that, you have to meet certain milestones. And the milestones are based on earnings in
a month. So, depending on what type of employment you
look for, the Ticket to Work is there to assist people with working off benefits completely. So, you may have continuing disability review
protection for 12 months and then maybe 24 months if you go to work part-time. If you do not go to work full-time, the continuing
disability protection will stop after usually 12 to 24-month period. But it still does provide everyone with a
protection in the beginning to give them the chance to look for a job. You can learn more about the continuing disability
review protection at the Choose Work website and look at what the different milestones
are. The milestones will just be getting a job,
keeping a job and then they’ll be based on earnings after that point.>>Thanks Kendra. To ask a question in a different way, you
basically have to be making timely progress in the program to be protected from the medical
CDR, is this correct?>>It is, yes.>>OK. Thank you. Here’s another one for you. We have some folks out there who are unhappy
with their employment network. Can they find another one and are there national
employment networks?>>They sure can find another one. This program, the Ticket to Work program,
is completely free and completely voluntary. If you don’t like the employment network you
chose and you don’t think they’re helping you to meet your goals, you can go and call
the national Ticket to Work helpline number or visit the choosework.net website and you
can find other ENs that serve your area locally or that serve your area nationally. And you can choose to assign your ticket to
them. This is a process that you have to go through
to unassign your ticket from your current EN and to assign it to the new one. But it’s very easy and they will be able to
walk you through it. The purpose of the Ticket to Work program
is to help people find employment and keep employment. So if you feel that your employment network
is not helping you to reach that goal, you should definitely choose a different agency
to work with.>>Thank you Kendra. You have mentioned the work incentives a little
bit. Could you explain more about what those are?>>Oh my goodness, I could talk to you for
three hours on work incentives. But that’s not this presentation. You can learn more about the work incentives
by listening to some of the previous live presentations that have happened and by contacting
your local WIPA. Work incentives are things that Social Security
put into place as safety nets for people as they return to work. So all of those, I’m sure each of you has
heard a horror story that someone went to work and their benefits stopped the next month. And you may not be able to tell me who this
happened to because usually, it’s like a game of telephones. You heard it from your mother’s cousin’s sister’s
brother’s uncle’s friend’s dog. That’s how these things happen. The truth is, Social Security created these
work incentives to provide you with a safety net to see if you are able to handle working
because you’ve been found disabled by the government. It’s understood that you have a disability
and it is expected to last a period of more than one year. That’s totally understood. Some of you may have a disability that’s not
expected to last a lifetime. A current example of this would be if you
are awaiting a transplant. You would get on disability, you would be
waiting for your transplant, you’d be sick, you probably wouldn’t be able to work. Once you receive that transplant and/or go
8 to 12 months out, your health is completely back to normal. So your disability would become questionable
at that point, depending on how the transplant went. For those of you in that situation and for
people who just want to return to work, the work incentive or safety net. An example to some would be for people on
SSDI. And this is only for people on Social Security
Disability Insurance. The first nine months that you worked, you
can earn any amount of money at all and continue to receive your full SSDI check. And it’s called the trial work period. And it is, again, just a safety net that allows
you to see, can you handle working and is it something that you’re going to be able
to handle long-term? It’s important to know that these exist because
you can visit the Choose Work website or call the Ticket to Work helpline and get connected
with your local WIPA, the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance. What my agency does is if you call the Ticket
to Work helpline today, I would get a message stating that we have a new referral. And I would assign that referral to one of
my employees and they would call you within two days to talk to you about what benefits
you received and what your work goal is, you know. If you’ve thought about it, how much would
you like to try working, 20 hours a week or 40? And what position would you like to doing? We’ll help you determine what you would be
making every month and then we would send you a consent to sign for us that would allow
us to verify your Social Security, your Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, HUD, everything. Once we verify everything, we create a report
for you, call the benefit summary and analysis and it explains exactly what benefits you
receive now because we verify it and then it explains what work incentives are available
to you. So we will explain how many different safety
nets you have in place. And there are work incentives related to insurance
that I think are a huge deal to people. Because even those of you who– you’re ready
to go to work, your doctor has said he/she can handle it, a lot of people are concerned
about insurance because medications are expensive. And if you have any additional care, that’s
expensive. For Medicaid purposes, there’s a federal work
incentive called 1619(b) that says, until your earnings are above a certain level, you
keep your Medicaid. In the state of Indiana, that level is $36,000
a year. You keep your Medicaid. And Indiana has one of the lower levels. So, it’s a big deal. Going to work won’t cause you to lose everything,
and that’s why knowing about the work incentive is important. So I would encourage everyone on this call
to contact the Ticket to Work helpline, visit the Choose Work website and look up their
local WIPA so that you can get in touch to hear how working will impact all of your benefits. And that was the shortest answer I could give,
Jayme.>>Thanks Kendra. I have a couple more questions about what
the work incentives can do specifically. Are there any work incentives or does Ticket
to Work help with training?>>They’re not work incentives for that. Work incentives are really the term that’s
going to be used for your earnings and how it impacts your Social Security checks. But, there are programs that can assist you. The Ticket to Work program does cover training. So, vocational rehabilitation is usually going
to be your best option if you need to further your education in any way. And this could be getting your bachelor’s
degree at a university or attending a beauty school or apprenticing as a welder. All of those would be types of training and
education. And vocational rehabilitation has the funding
to help cover that. Some employment networks will also be able
to cover training and education. But 90% of the time, vocational rehabilitation
has more funds available to assist with that. So, if you’re interested in furthering your
education or training, vocational rehabilitation would be my first suggestion for you to contact.>>Thanks Kendra. Here’s a bit of the [inaudible]. Can we use your Ticket to Work to work at
home or to become self-employed?>>You sure can. The Ticket to Work program, the way it is
setup is you that can choose agencies to help you as you find a job. Self-employment is considered a job. It’s still employment. You can use it. Once you have started working, to use your
Ticket to Work and for it to be considered in use and for you to be making timely progress,
they’re going to be looking at your earnings. For self-employment, what Social Security
is looking for is I like to call it NESE because I like acronyms. It’s N-E-S-E and it’s net earnings from self-employment. So, there’s a little calculation that you
do that you– will help you to figure out what your net earnings from self-employment
are. Working at home, we’ve talked about, it can
be two different ways. You could work at home either as self-employed
and as a contractor or you could work at home like a wage employee which is what I do. The way I work at home is that the agency
I work for holds the client that covers my program, and the grant pays for myself and
my employees to do our services and to do the benefits counseling. And we just happened to work at home. So, work at home jobs do exist, but it really
is important that you talk to someone about work at home jobs. Because for every good valid work at home
job that you find, you’ll probably find five that are a scam and just are not legit work
at home jobs. And so, it’s important to talk to someone
about that. And employment network and vocational rehabilitation
can help you with that. And for those of you considering self-employment,
I would strongly encourage you to contact your WIPA immediately so that you understand
the different work incentives that Social Security offers for self-employment. They’re still there. They’re just different than work incentives
for wage employment. Does that answer it Jayme?>>It does. And that leads into my next question. Are there work– any work incentives available
if I were to become self-employed to help me buy a computer equipment or say, help install
a phone line or something like that?>>There are. There are two awesome work incentives. So, I gave you a great work incentive for
SSDI people. Let’s get people on SSI a good work incentive. Have you ever heard of the PASS? It’s a plan to achieve self-support or the
acronym is P-A-S-S, PASS. A PASS is for beneficiaries on SSI or beneficiaries
who can become eligible for SSI. And what that means is that you have to show
that you can live on $733 a month because that’s the federal benefit rate for SSI. The PASS allows you to set aside money for
a work-related goal and continue to receive a full amount of SSI. So an example of this would be a– when you
go to work on SSI, Social Security counts a little less than half of your earnings. The federal benefit rate is 733. If you want to work part-time, 30 hours a
week, minimum wage, you would earn around $885 a month. Social Security doesn’t count the first 85. And after that, they count half. So, of 885 that you earned, Social Security
is going to count 400. They subtract that 400 from the max benefit
rate of 733 and your new SSI check is 333. And that scares people and they think, oh
my God, you’re cutting my check more than in half, how do I pay my bills? If you earned 885 and then you’re getting
333, you have over $1,200 for your bills. Before working, you only had 733. You end up having more money, even though
your SSI check is lowered. With the PASS, you can set aside your work
earnings in an account and save your work-related goal and continue to get this low SSI. So let’s use the same example. If you earn 885, you could set aside that
885 in an account and save it and still get the full amount of SSI of 733. So it’s a great way to save up if you need
to pay for training or for self-employment purposes, if you need to buy a scanner or
art supplies. Or, if you completed beauty school and now
you need to buy a makeup kit and a hair kit. If you’re going to go work at a factory, you
may need to buy not only specific clothing, but also steel-toed boots and eyewear and
a helmet and it can get expensive. The PASS allows you to save for work-related
goals, whether that’s education or items needed for employment. Another great program that’s available to
both SSDI and SSI recipients and actually is not disability-related, it’s called an
individual development account or an IDA. And this is specifically for people who are
low income. And the sad truth of the matter is, most people
on SSI and SSDI qualify as low income. An individual development account is a matched
savings program that allows you to save for one of four things. Buying or rehabbing a house, furthering your
or dependence, post-secondary education and starting or expanding a small business, so
self-employment. The way it works here in Indiana is it’s a
3 to 1 ratio. Over a four-year period, you put in $400 a
year and the state matches that at a 3 to 1 rate. So over four years, you put in 1,600. The state gives you $4,800. So after four years, you’ve put in 1,600,
but your account has 6,400 in it. It’s an awesome way to save for one of those
four things. And this is not disability-related. It’s just income-related. I know here in Indiana, it is– if you are
175% of the poverty level which honestly is not that low. So it’s a way to build assets and to help
people not live in poverty. So, there are some great programs out there. I am just giving you a brief, brief, brief
explanation of them. If you’ve heard something that you are interested
in learning more about, please call the Ticket to Work helpline and they will get you connected
with your local WIPA. And you– they’ll send you a list of employment
networks in your area or you can go online to the choosework.net website and look up
all this information.>>Thanks so much Kendra. We’re going to switch gears a little bit and
talk with Jennifer [inaudible]. And as I haven’t forgotten about you, we do
have a bunch of questions for you. So one I’d like to start with is could you
explain again what exactly the self-identification form is and why people have to complete it
or do they have to complete it?>>So again, firstly, the self-identification
form is voluntary. And it can be done at both pre and post-offer
of employment. And if I may, I will read the link where everyone
can see the forms. They’re available in English, Spanish, Chinese,
French, German, Japanese, Korean and Russian. And that link is https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/ compliance/
sec503/self_ID_forms/selfIDforms, all one word, .htm. And apologies for that long link. But as you can see, once you take a look at
the form or work with your employment network or state your agency to review the form, again,
it’s voluntary self-identification. And the form is processed by stating that
because we do business with the government, we must reach out to hire and provide equal
opportunity to qualified people with disabilities. To help us measure how well we are doing,
we are asking you to tell us if you have a disability or if you have ever had a disability. So again, the premise is for records management
and to ensure that federal contractors are meeting the goals set forth in the Rehabilitation
Act.>>Thank you, Jennifer. And I did also go back to the slide on self-identification. So there’s a bit of things posted. But it is available to folks to take a look
at that form. And Jennifer, can you again tell us, what’s
the purpose of this form, why should people fill it out?>>So again, to ensure that we are compliant
with Section 503. Again, it’s a voluntary self-identification
of disability form. This is a form that can help to, again, identify
whether or not we are fulfilling the statutes within Section 503 and getting the most qualified
people for these positions which include individuals with disability. And again, the disability is listed on the
form reference both in the PowerPoint and the link I mentioned. It’s not an all-inclusive list, so it’s important
to remember that perhaps one has a disability that’s not in this list of about 20. But again, you still could qualify if you
do voluntarily self identify. And as has been said a few times throughout
this call, again, sometimes identifying and self-identifying that you do have a disability
can be advantageous and allow you some different opportunities within federal contractors.>>We have a question about documenting your
disability. How is it defined and is there a form available
which we had just talked about, the form. And what are the specifics to satisfy this
requirement?>>Well, so it depends on the contractor. We’ve had contractors who require explicit
documentation from the physician. Whereas it cannot be signed by anyone who
was not a physician providing direct care to the individual we are helping to place
into employment. There are other individuals and employers
who will accept paperwork from vocational rehabilitation agencies. So it’s really dependent on the federal contractor
and what we have found– and again, this is based on personal experience, my response
here. We have found that as an employment network,
we can help the individual to identify what is acceptable in terms of supporting documentation.>>Thanks Jennifer. OK, I’m just taking a look at some of the
questions. And to remind us, the Q&A box is to the right
of the slides. You can also e-mail the questions to [email protected] I’m going to switch gears again a little bit
and move on to talking about reasonable accommodation. Jennifer, can you tell us again what a reasonable
accommodation is.>>So, a reasonable accommodation allows the
individual to complete the specific duties of the job without presenting undue hardship
to the employer and allowing the task at hand to be completed. Some different examples that I gave included
IT modifications, for instance, we’ve worked with individuals who perhaps have a different
type of monitor if there’s vision impairment. We have individuals who have larger keyboards
due to physical disability or vision impairments. We have had individuals who due to a physical
disability may have what we call a sit-stand desk where the person can sit for a brief
moment of time, then they can rest and sit, stand et cetera, going back and forth. So anyway, a reasonable accommodation helps
the individual with a disability to still be able to accomplish the task that the employer
had set out.>>OK, thank you. And when you talked about this earlier, you
mentioned the term undue hardship. Can you explain what that mean?>>Absolutely. So undue hardship for the employer is that
as long as within reasonable expectations, the employer can meet the needs of the person
with a disability without causing undue hardship which can include financial hardship, hardship
to the actual facility without major modifications, the employer will do everything in their power
to ensure that they accommodate the person with the disability.>>Thank you so much Jennifer. We have a lot of questions out there about
how to find out if someone is a federal contractor and we do have a website to refer you to. That site is www.usaspending.gov. So that’s a great resource for how to find
federal contractors. And it is a national website. Jennifer, someone is interested in this Section
503 position, but they haven’t found one yet and we need their EN, is this necessarily
aware of some of the available conditions, what should their first step be?>>Well I guess, my suggestion would be to
ensure that the EN is familiar with Section 503, the website that you just advertised
and federal contractors in their specific area. I know that also you can choose work.net. It has been helpful to us in the past. But you know, it was mentioned earlier, there
are a variety of employment networks and state VRs available in every region. So, if you’re not satisfied with the responses
that perhaps you are getting from your current partner, always feel free to reach out to
others so that you can indeed get the information that you’re looking for.>>Thank you. I’m just taking a look at some of these questions
that are coming in. So when someone fills out the self-identification
form, who sees that and what do they do with it?>>The only person or persons that review
that form are individuals within human resources role. The person who is responsible for the hiring,
potential supervisors, individuals who are conducting the interviews, they will not see
that form. And what’s done with it is, it is used to
maintain records and to ensure that compliance is being had. So again, it’s a human resources function
and it remains as such. And the report from the federal contractor
or subcontractor will be reported to the United States Department of Labor. It is an anonymous report. And it’s just based on the statistics offered
in the voluntary self-identification form.>>Thank you. And what should someone do if they feel like
they’ve been discriminated against for filling out that form or for disclosing their interviews
during– or disclosing their disability during an interview?>>That’s– So, if that does happen, firstly,
I would ensure that there is discrimination. And I would follow up with a legal partner. That should base on personal experience with
some of the beneficiaries that we’ve worked with. And then also, there is equal opportunity
employment commission, which has a variety of information available to everyone about
discrimination in the workplace, both preemployment and post– during employment and postemployment.>>Thanks. And Kendra, could you tell us a little bit
about how you might be able to help?>>I am sorry, what was the– what did you
say?>>If someone felt like they were being discriminated
against during a job interview or because they filled out that self-identification form,
how might protection advocacy or beneficiaries of Social Security be able to help them?>>Protection advocacy is an amazing group,
and every state has a protection advocacy group. Ours in Indiana just changed their name to
disability rights. And I believe, a lot of states are going this
way. What they are is they are both state and federally
funded, but they’re complete entities of their own. So, if you feel like you’ve been discriminated
against, whether it is via an employer, an employment network or even vocational rehabilitation,
they’re there to help you through the process. They can either help you to advocate on your
own, or they can step in and help you if it needs to be brought further, like with a lawsuit
or something else. They can help you to understand all the laws
regarding disability and employment and how those should be met. So, the protection is out there for you. And it is available to anyone who has a disability
and runs into a problem along the way.>>Thanks Kendra. And Jennifer, we have lots of questions coming
in about that website I mentioned. You can find out if an organization is a federal
contractor online at www.usaspending.gov. That’s, www.u-s-a-s-p-e-n-d-i-n-g.gov. And Jennifer and Kendra, Jennifer, I’ll start
with you with this question and then Kendra asked you to add online. We have someone out there, who says employers
are not required to accommodate your disability, though are they? If you can’t actually do the job as described
don’t they have the option to find someone who can do the job better than provide accommodation?>>Thank you to whoever asked that question. I think that’s a very good point of discussion. I don’t agree because, I have met so many
people who are worth reasonably accommodating over someone who maybe I wouldn’t have to
provide an extra accommodation to. Really, jobs are about the most qualified
person, with or without reasonable accommodation. So, I encourage people to not get discouraged
and to really think about what you can offer an employer. Many people, regardless of disability, have
done wonderful things. For instance, in my industry which is human
services, we have helped people gain infotech jobs who are doing extraordinarily well. We have people in security positions, people
in positions of management. So, to all those out there who might think
that perhaps it might be behoove an employer to hire someone without a disability, I ask
you to reconsider that position and really put your efforts towards the jobs in which
you are qualified and which you desire because it does happen, we see it everyday. And we’re so pleased that when we see someone
succeed in a position that they probably thought at some point might have been impossible.>>And Kendra, do you have anything to add?>>I do. And I’m going to throw in my personal story
here. I do have a disability. And it started when I was 17, right now 34
and I’m a supervisor of a program. You can find work with a disability, and it
doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it does. I’ve not had to go on Social Security yet. But it is not a question in my mind. I will and up on SSDI before I hit retirement
age. It’s just it is what it is. I have a degenerative condition, and it gets
harder every day to work. Going to work with a disability isn’t bad. It really isn’t. It is a benefit to employers because there
are legal statutes out there about not discriminating. You can find a job that’s a good fit for you. In my position now, I work with people on
SSI and SSDI with all sorts of disabilities. We work with people with a TVI, people who
are visually impaired, hearing impaired, amputations, all sorts of different disabilities. Don’t let that hold you back. You can find a position and the positions
are out there. Yes, an employer is looking for someone who
can do the job. If you’re able to do the job with reasonable
accommodations, you’re a great candidate for it. I know I told you guys I’m currently working
at home because that’s what works for me. I can’t imagine going back to an office job. So, this grant, the WIPA grant, went away
for a short period of time. It was during that time that Congress was
not acting on anything and our grant was up to be renewed and they just weren’t voting
on anything. This position went away for an eight-month
period, and I was able to apply for another work at home position and get picked up for
that. So you really can find a job out there that’s
going to be a great fit for you, whether that means work at home, where that means a Section
503 job, whether that means something just part-time in an office. The benefits of going to work, being able
to interact with people, having more money, feeling like you’re contributing to your family,
to yourself, all of those things are really important. So, you can. You can find a job that’s a good fit and using
the Ticket to Work program, connecting with an EN, using voc rehab, getting benefits counseling,
all of that can help make it even easier and help to give you the assistance that you need
to find a job. So don’t get discouraged and use all these
services because they’re free and find something that’s going to be a great fit for you.>>Jennifer and Kendra, that was a wonderful
way to transition towards the end of our webinar. Jennifer, thank you for the inspiration and
encouragement. And Kendra, thank you so much for sharing
your story and also to the inspiration and encouragement. At this point, I am gong to move on to talk
about some of our additional resources and review some of the information that we have
given out this afternoon. I did add a link to the website where you
can find out if someone is a federal contractor to their resources pod on your screen. So, in the bottom right hand corner under–
right next to the captioning pod, you can see the resources box and that link, again,
for those of you who are on the phone only, it’s www.usaspending.gov. And on that site, you can find out if someone
is a federal contractor. Our first additional resource today is called
the Workforce Recruitment Program which is a program of the Department of Labor and the
acronym is WRP. WRP is a recruitment or referral program that
connects federal employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent
graduates with disabilities who are eager to improve their abilities in the workplace
through summer or permanent jobs. The WRP is a really great starting point for
getting into the federal world. To be eligible for the WRP, candidates must
be current, full-time, undergraduate or graduate students with a disability or have graduated
within one year of the release of the WRP database in December. They have a great website at www.wrp.gov and
it goes into much more detail than I am able to do during this webinar. We referred– Our next resource is a little
earlier in the webinar. This is the job accommodation network, also
known as JAN. And JAN provides free expert and confidential
guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Some of you may have joined us last month
for our webinar that highlighted JAN and the services they offer. They have a wealth of resources online. They’re also available to chat with you one-on-one. They can meet with you and your employer if
you would like to do that. They also provide some assistance to employers. So if you are– have remaining questions about
reasonable accommodations or maybe unsure about what you might need, JAN is a fantastic
resource. That webinar is archived on our website at
www.choosework.net/wise. I would encourage you to go back and listen
to that if you have any questions about reasonable accommodation. You can also visit their website online at
www.askjan.org. Some of you may have heard of our virtual
job fair. Our last virtual job fair was on August 24th. And if you are able to participate, thank
you for joining us. We do hope Social– Social Security does host
virtual job fairs for current Ticket to Work program participants. And this is an opportunity to meet and engage
with employers and federal contractors looking to hire individuals with disabilities. As I mentioned, the last fair was on August
24th. The next one is not yet scheduled. But if you watch– keep an eye on our social
media or you can visit– excuse me, visit us online at www.choosework.net/find-a-job
/virtual-job-fairs. And again, watch social media. If you are subscribed to our e-mail, you’ll
get announcements about that. And you’ll find out as soon as we schedule
the next one. All of us had made reference to the Ticket
to Work help line during this webinar. We got lots and lots of questions today. And even if it was such a long Q&A period,
we were unable to get to all of them and I do apologize for that. If you do still have questions, you can call
the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842 for voice or 1-866-833-2967 for TTY. We’ve also referenced the Choose Work website
which is www.choosework.net. And you can also access the site by using
the link on your screen which is www.socialsecurity.gov/work. We have social media and we have pretty much
everything. You can like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/choosework. You can follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chooseworkssa. You can hear success stories and watch videos
online at YouTube from people who’ve participated in the Ticket to Work program online at www.youtube.com/choosework. You can also follow us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/
company/ticket-to-work. We would like to invite you to our next webinar,
which is called Ticket to Work, Preventing and Managing Overpayments. The webinar will be on September 28th from
3 through 4:30. And we’ll have some information about what
Social Security overpayments are how you can prevent them or manage one of these used help
line. You can register online at www.choosework.net/wise
or you can call 1-866-968-7852 for voice or 1-866-833-2967 for TTY. Once I close this webinar, a survey will pop
up on your screen. We would appreciate your feedback on today’s
webinar. If the link do not pop up or you’d like to
do it later, you can download the survey– or you can navigate the survey at www.choosework.net/surveys/wise. I’d like to take the moment to say thank you
to the team in the background, who have been diligently answering your questions. I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to
Jennifer and Kendra for their very inspirational words and the information they provided us
today. And finally, I’d like to thank you in the
audience for taking this first step to learning more about work and how the world is working
to help you and impact your life. And we do encourage you to continue to take
steps by calling the Ticket to Work helpline or going on the website or even coming back
and joining us for our next webinar. So thank you for joining us today and we will
talk to you in some forum soon. Have a wonderful afternoon.

Stephen Childs

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