Employment Networks

If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and are 18 – 64 years old, you automatically qualify for the Ticket to Work program. So when you are ready to think about employment and want to figure out the best way to proceed, you can choose to participate in the Ticket program by contacting an Employment Network (EN). ENs are organizations that can give you the various employment services that the Ticket to Work program offers.

Here are some examples of the types of organizations that may serve as Employment Networks:

You can only get services from one Employment Network at a time. That means you have to choose which EN you want to serve you — that’s called “assigning your Ticket” to an EN. After you assign your Ticket, you can get services from the EN.

Do I need a paper ticket to participate in this program?

Social Security doesn’t actually mail out a paper ticket; it is all electronic. When you contact an EN, they will be able to verify through their computers whether or not you are eligible for the Ticket program. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). The operators at the call center can verify whether or not you “have a Ticket.”

Choosing an Employment Network and Assigning Your Ticket

You can find ENs in your area by searching the Employment Network Directory. If you need additional help choosing an EN, you can:

Once you’ve found an EN that interests you, contact it to see if the services and supports it offers are right for you. ENs offer different services based on their specialties. Make sure to talk to a few ENs, because it’s important to find one that will be a good match for you.

Here are some things to think about and ask the ENs you are considering:

  • Tell the EN about your concerns related to working and ask for their advice.
  • Ask if they have any specialties, such as working with specific disabilities, job referrals, job placement help, skills training, or anything else.
  • Tell them about your goals, education, and experience. How would they approach helping you get and keep a job based on that information?
  • How will they help you keep your job once you start working? For how long will they offer services?
  • What do they require you to do as a partner in the process?
  • If an EN says that they cannot work with you, ask them to recommend a different EN or other resources to help you meet your work goals.

When you talk to an EN, try using this worksheet offered by the Ticket to Work program. The worksheet will help you remember what questions to ask and what the EN's answers were.

You are free to talk with as many ENs as you like, and you don’t have to work with an EN simply because you have talked with them. If you find one you like, you can ask them to be your Ticket to Work Employment Network. They have the option to say no if they want to, in which case you’ll have to find a different EN.

When you and an EN have agreed to work together, you will create an Individual Work Plan (IWP) with your EN. IWPs are explained later in this article.

Self-Employment

You can use the Ticket to Work program to help you become self-employed or to start your own business. If your goal is to be self-employed, you need to tell potential ENs about your goal, because not all ENs will have experience with helping people who want to become self-employed. It is important to find an EN that has the resources to help you meet your goal.

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) is a Ticket to Work Employment Network. You may consider the services the agency offers and compare them to those offered by other ENs. If you assign your Ticket to Vocational Rehabilitation Services, you generally can’t get services from any other EN, because you can only get services from 1 Employment Network at a time.

If you have a disability and don’t qualify for the Ticket to Work program, because you don’t get SSI or SSDI benefits, you may still qualify to get employment services through Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Those services are explained in more detail in the DB101 article on Programs That Support Work.

Partnership Plus

Vocational Rehabilitation is a short-term program designed to help people with disabilities prepare for and find employment. Generally, 3 months after you begin working Vocational Rehabilitation will close your case and their services will end. What most people don't realize is that when your VR services end, you may be able to assign your Ticket to another Employment Network to get additional employment services. If you know you'll need some support to keep your job, this can be extremely helpful. This combination of VR services followed by EN services is called Partnership Plus. To learn more about Partnership Plus, click here.

Changing Employment Networks

If at any point you are not happy with the services you get from your EN, you can find a different EN. To change ENs, ask your EN to have your Ticket “unassigned.”

For more detailed information about unassigning your Ticket:

  • Call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY)
  • Email the Ticket to Work customer service office at support@choosework.ssa.gov

After you unassign your Ticket, you will have the option to assign it to another EN. If you are concerned about keeping the medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) protection, you have 3 months to find another EN and create a new work plan that better meets your needs. If you don’t find an EN within 3 months, Social Security may have you do medical CDRs again.

Learn more about Ticket to Work online

The Ticket to Work website has a lot of great information, including answers to frequently asked questions and webinars that are offered monthly and can help you better understand the Ticket program and SSI and SSDI work incentives. Recordings of past webinars are available in audio form, as captioned videos, or with transcripts.