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Your Questions Answered! March 26th Facebook Questions & Answers (Q&A) Transcript

Following our March 26th WISE Webinar, “You Ask, We Answer,” we took to our Facebook page to answer your disability employment-related questions. We addressed a variety of questions about the Ticket to Work program, Work Incentives and the path to financial independence. Thank you to all who participated, and we hope to see the rest of you next time! Follow us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/choosework) to receive announcements of future events! If you are interested in work and would like to discuss your situation now, speak with a Ticket to Work representative at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or find a service provider using our Find Help tool.

Check out the transcripts of the March 26th Facebook Q&A below:

Note: Questions are listed first in each section. Responses from the Ticket to Work experts are labeled “Expert Response.” Additional comments from fans are labeled “Fan Comment (or Fan Response).” Comments from the moderator are labeled “Moderator Comment.” This transcript was recorded from the chat itself and to preserve authenticity, only egregious spelling errors were corrected and some responses were rearranged to group by question. Please excuse any additional grammar or spelling errors.

Below are acronyms used throughout the chat:

EN: Employment Network

SSI: Supplemental Security Income

SSDI: Social Security Disability Insurance

TTW: Ticket to Work

VR: Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

WISE (webinar): Work Incentives Seminar Event

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Celebrating National Siblings Day

Today is National Siblings Day, an occasion where – like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day – we celebrate relationships with some of our closest family members: our siblings.

Siblings are often our first playmates, our friends, and our role models. A relationship with a brother or sister can be very influential in anyone’s life. For individuals with disabilities, the role of siblings can be even more significant. No matter how young or old you and your sibling are, today is an occasion to appreciate each other.

Everyone’s personal situation is unique, but siblings can support their siblings with disabilities by helping them to achieve their goals, including employment. If you are interested in the topic of siblings and disabilities, we encourage you to look into The Arc's National Sibling Council and the Sibling Leadership Network. Here are some of their resources:

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It's National Public Health Week!

National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 7-13, seeks to help people learn more about how the profession of public health encourages healthy communities through educational programs, policies, services, and research.

Public health takes a broader view of health, helping people throughout our society live lives that are longer and better. While your doctor takes care of your personal health, public health organizations aim to take care of the health of our entire community.

Public health focuses on the communities and environments in which we live and work, playing a major role in securing the quality of air and water, the availability of healthy food, and the safety of neighborhoods while encouraging healthy behaviors in everyone who lives in our society. Public health advocates are working to make sure public health services and programs are available to people with disabilities.

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Start Your Job Search Today at a Career Fair!

Throughout the month, in-person and virtual career fairs (when available) are taking place around the country. If you are looking for work, a career fair gives you an opportunity to get connected with employers who are currently hiring and talk directly with their recruiters. Additionally, virtual career fairs offer a unique opportunity for you to engage in real time from wherever you are with employers who are ready to hire!

Careers and the disABLED Magazine's Career Expo for People with Disabilities (In-person)

Careers and the disABLED Magazine will host career events specifically for people with disabilities. This is an opportunity to meet in-person with employers from across the country.

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How is Your Ticket to Work Employment Network Doing?

As part of its management of the Ticket to Work program, Social Security is surveying beneficiaries to determine their satisfaction with Employment Networks (ENs). If you are a beneficiary who received a survey, we are asking you to share your thoughts and experience.

What does the Survey Ask?

The EN Beneficiary Satisfaction Survey asks you to:

  • Rate how satisfied you are with your EN’s services and staff
  • Identify your EN’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate how well your EN meets your needs and expectations
  • Describe your job, if you are working
  • Tell us how we can improve the Ticket to Work program

How Do I Know If I’ve been Selected?

Social Security selected over 27,000 beneficiaries to participate. If you are selected, you will receive a postcard (enclosed in an envelope) with instructions for completing the survey online. If you are not able to complete the survey online because you do not have access to the Internet, you will receive a paper survey along with a postage-paid envelope for its return. If you received a survey and have questions or need assistance completing the survey, call EurekaFacts at 1-855-403-4800 or email ttw@eurekafacts.com. EurekaFacts will be conducting the survey on behalf of Social Security. TTY users, please contact your local Relay Center for assistance.

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New Rules Equal Greater Equal Employment Opportunities for You!

By David A. Weaver, Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support

I am pleased to share with you some exciting updates to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that may greatly benefit you on your journey to financial independence!

For more than 40 years, the Rehabilitation Act has advanced employment opportunities, offered extensive services, and promoted accessibility for people with disabilities around the country. The law works to provide a fair shot for all to live the American dream, and to break down barriers to equality. This week, changes to this law went into effect that will greatly enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal contractors – companies doing business with the federal government – take affirmative action to recruit, hire, employ, promote, train and retain employers with disabilities. Updates to the Section 503 rules that went into effect on March 24th include:

  • Setting a goal for federal contractors to strive to ensure at least 7% of their job groups, or workforce depending on the size of the employer, consist of employees with disabilities over coming years.
  • Requiring federal contractors to invite job applicants and new and current employers to voluntarily self-identify as having a disability so contractors can assess their outreach and recruitment efforts, and their progress toward the aspirational utilization goal.
  • Requiring federal contractors to provide individuals with disabilities with reasonable accommodations needed to perform a job.
  • Extending protections to individuals with disabilities that have long been required to promote workplace equality for women and minorities.
  • Issuing new regulations that establish similar workplace protections for veterans, including those with disabilities, also have taken effect.
  • These rules are important because, as a group, federal contractors employ more than one out of every five workers in the U.S., are located in every state, and offer career employment in most fields and professions.

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Money Mondays: More Tax Resources for People with Disabilities

Money Mondays logo

The deadline to file your taxes is Tuesday, April 15! Last month we listed a number of resources to help you or someone you know with a disability prepare and file their taxes. We know tax forms can seem daunting. You can use this information to help make filing taxes easier.

Did you know that many people with disabilities are eligible for special deductions? A deduction lowers your taxable income, meaning you pay less in taxes. Look at this list of tax credits and deductions for individuals with disabilities to see if there are any that apply to you!
 

  • Do you want help understanding what deductions you can make? Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects are community based organizations that provide advice to disability beneficiaries. Here are some  questions about taxes and benefits that WIPAs hear a lot.
  • If you find yourself unsure where to begin, the Interactive Tax Assistant  will walk you through a number of questions to help you determine how you can file, what you can deduct from your income, and whether you’re eligible for certain tax credits.
  • If you have a tax question that can’t be answered by phone or online, free Taxpayer Assistance Centers can provide you face-to-face assistance.
  • If you are looking for specific forms in text or braille formats, take a look at this list of all accessible IRS documents.
  • Finally, whether you prepare your taxes yourself, with a professional, or using an online service, make sure you deal only with people and organizations you trust. You can use these 10 tips to help protect your privacy while online.  If you decide to file online.

We hope you find this information helpful as the deadline to file your taxes approaches! If you need more in-depth counseling, you can always call the IRS directly.  

#Money MondaysRead more money savings tips and financial wellness at #MoneyMondays!

 

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Women's History Month: Overcoming Obstacles on the Road to Employment and Success

March is Women’s History Month. In recognition of this celebration, we are sharing the inspirational story of Ever Lee Hairston, a woman who calls herself “black, blind, and successful!”

Ever Lee grew up picking cotton in the segregated south where she told herself, “There has to be a better way of life for me.” College provided Ever Lee hope and a path forward. While a student, Ever Lee became involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, attending a sit-in with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to protest the refusal of companies to hire black workers. When she began to lose her sight in her early twenties, she found it hard to envision a successful future.

“I was devastated, felt sorry for myself,” Ever Lee said when she became fully blind. But after hearing about services that could help her, she decided to call a National Federation of the Blind resource center. The services she received there helped her learn braille, develop new skills, and gain confidence to become independent and achieve her goals. Overcoming stereotypes, Ever Lee found employment at the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services and worked her way up the ladder. She eventually became involved with the low vision and blindness community and created the Garden State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey. Today, Ever Lee is an influential leader in low vision and blindness, and advocates for disability rights around the country.

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