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Mentoring Matters: Career Development for the 21st Century

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Observed each October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) promotes career exploration for students and job seekers with disabilities. DMD offers hands-on career exploration, on-sight job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring that can lead to internship and employment opportunities.

The American Association of People with Disabilities started Disability Mentoring Day in 1999 with fewer than three-dozen participants. Today, DMD connects nearly 20,000 job-seekers with employers and mentors who help students and job-seekers each year.

Along with the benefits for people with disabilities, disability mentoring also helps employers gain an increased awareness of a unique talent pool. As the need for innovation continues to grow in today’s economy, savvy employers realize that people with disabilities can be assets and diversity can be good for business.

With the recent changes to Section 503 regulations, federal contractors and subcontractors now face a national goal to increase workforce participation of persons with disabilities. As these companies are taking to steps to seek-out and hire qualified individuals with disabilities and support those already in their workforce, mentoring programs for people with disabilities can be another way to make workplaces more open, accessible and productive. 

If you, someone you know, or the company you work for would like to get involved in disability mentoring, email to find out more and get connected to resources in your area.


Ticket Talk Podcast Series Highlights

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The Ticket Talk podcast series shares interviews with disability employment experts and service providers, “Where Are They Now” follow-ups with our success stories participants, information about Social Security Work Incentives and answers to frequently asked questions about working and disability benefits.

In case you missed these episodes, this month we are highlighting our most popular podcast episodes on self-employment, Section 503 regulations, protection and advocacy, and Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects. 

To learn more about Ticket Talk, you may want to listen to our first podcast episode titled, The Ticket to Work Program May be Right for You! featuring former Social Security Associate Commissioner Bob Williams.  

Download Ticket Talk to your smartphone or tablet and take it on the go or stream it from your home computer. If you do not use a smartphone or tablet, you can read the podcast transcript. Ticket Talk will soon be available on iTunes too! Be sure to sign up for email updates to be notified of this new option. You can find all Ticket Talk episodes on the Choose Work Blog in the category Ticket Talk Podcasts.

If you have an idea or a topic you would like to hear more about in an upcoming podcast, please share it in the comments below.


Webinar Spotlight: Nebraska Ticket to Work

Join us on October 22, 2014, for a national WISE webinar: Ticket to Work: Free Support Services for People who have a Disability and Are Ready to Work.

October 22 WISE webinar banner:woman sitting infront of a laptop

The national WISE webinar will present information about Social Security programs and rules that may apply to you, including details about information on Ticket to Work and Work Incentives, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Our presenters for this webinar are Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Employment Network (EN) representatives from Nebraska Ticket to Work.

Shauna Dahlgren is a certified Work Incentive Specialist with 14 years of experience assisting Social Security disability beneficiaries in using available state and Federal work incentives to find and keep jobs, and grow in their careers. In addition, Shauna has mentored a team of Easter Seals Nebraska professionals who provide work incentives and benefits counseling services and wraparound supports to Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR) consumers statewide.  Shauna also offers training and education to the public about Social Security benefit programs, work incentives and employment supports available to individuals with disabilities.

Raina Gulbrandson, MSW, is a Community Work Incentives Coordinator for Easter Seals Nebraska.  She serves individuals with disabilities across the state of Nebraska through a cooperative agreement with Social Security’s Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program.  This program provides individualized benefits and work incentives counseling services to Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients who have an interest in employment.  The goal of the WIPA program is to promote employment and enhance self-sufficiency. 

We invite you to join Shauna and Raina as they talk about Ticket to Work and answer your questions. Register online or call 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). If you would like more information on the webinar, please check out our blog, Register Now! National Work Incentives Seminar Event, Wednesday October 22.



For Employment Training and Assistance, Look to Your Local Library

By Susan H. Hildreth, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services

EveryInstitute of Museum and Library Services logo day, in communities across the county, libraries are helping people with the skills training, career information, and job searching they need to get working. Ninety-six percent of libraries offer online job and employment resources, and 78 percent offer programs to help people apply for jobs. Libraries receive federal funding and grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help their customers—including people with disabilities—find and keep a job.

Libraries offer Internet access, welcoming spaces, convenient hours and loImage of Susan Hildreth, Director at Institute of Museum and Library Servicescations, and most importantly librarians, to serve as information navigators to help job seekers. Some public libraries have "One-Stop Career Centers" that bring together a wide variety of community resources and provide many employment services.  Libraries also provide learning opportunities for adults who are no longer in school, including adults who face economic challenges or have disabilities. Services may include reading and literacy classes, computer labs, and self-paced tutorials.

Many people have used their local library to help them find information about the Social Security Ticket to Work program, which provides employment support services to persons, age 18 through 64, who receive Social Security disability benefits.


More Jobs for People with Disabilities: Section 503 and You!

A live Twitter Chat with @USDOL on Friday, October 24 at 12 PM EDT.

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You’re invited to join Ticket to Work for a live Twitter Chat with the Department of Labor (DOL) on Friday, October 24 at 12 PM EDT.

This month, we will be discussing Section 503, the new regulations that promise more job opportunities than ever for people with disabilities. Section 503 requires federal contractors to take deliberate steps to recruit, hire, and retain people with disabilities. The new rules also allow you to voluntarily self-identify as a person with a disability. Federal contractors offer a wide variety of jobs, ranging from food service to economic consulting, and everything in between.

Learn what these rules mean for you and how you can find out about these opportunities. We’ll also share information on how Ticket to Work can help you along the way. 

Join us on Friday, October 24 at 12 PM EDT using #DEchat.

New to Twitter Chats?


The Ticket to Work Team Raises Program Awareness

Social Security’s Ticket to Work team was busy this summer at conferences nationwide talking with current and potential beneficiaries, people interested in exploring their work options, parents and disability employment professionals about the Ticket to Work program.

In July, the team attended the 25th annual Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) National Conference in Long Beach, CA. APSE has advanced employment and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities through advocacy and education for 25 years, as it offers the only national conference focused solely on the advancement of integrated employment. The team presented, “Using Your Ticket to Work: Help on Your Journey to Financial Independence.” This covered TTW basics including eligibility and services available to Social security beneficiaries. Attendees also met “Ben,” the Beneficiary received a demo of our Find Help Tool, and heard an inspirational Success Story from Megan Riggs.

The team’s next stop was at the 8th Annual Project SEARCH conference in Omaha, NE. Since 1996, Project SEARCH has aimed to secure employment for people with disabilities, especially youth in transition. Joined by a Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project and Employment Network (EN) representative from Nebraska Easter Seals, they offered information on Ticket to Work program and Work Incentives. Many attendees expressed interest in getting to know more about the Work Incentive PASS (Plan to Achieve Self Support). PASS plans are for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and offer them an opportunity to set money aside for a work-related goal. Many beneficiaries, like Michele Boardman, have used PASS Plans to set aside money to purchase a car or pursue training or certifications. Learn more about the PASS plan, and talk to a service provider about the process for creating one.

In September, the team attended the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conference in Washington, DC. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by a mental illness. The team answered more than a hundred questions between the exhibit booth and presentation session. Many people asked questions including “how long can I work while keeping my benefits?” and “what will happen to my child’s healthcare?” If you or a family member have these same questions, learn about common Work Incentives, which are special Social Security rules that enable people to explore work while still receiving health care and cash benefits.


Today is World Mental Health Day

Did you know October 10th marks World Mental Health Day? Mental health issues are common, and without the right services, they can impact your ability to work. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

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  • One in four adults – approximately 61.5 million Americans – experience mental illness each year.
  • One in 17 – about 13.6 million – live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 60 percent of adults, and almost one-half of youth ages 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.

Sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health and observed by the World Health Organization, World Mental Health Day champions global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. Each October thousands of supporters and many mental health organizations celebrate this awareness day to bring attention to mental illness and its effects on peoples’ lives worldwide.

On this 22rd World Mental Health Day, talk about mental health and explore support services for you or someone you know. It could be the first step to a healthier life and a fulfilling career


Help Yourself, Help Others: Get Screened for National Depression Screening Day

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Image: Courtesy of Screening for Mental Health

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness. In addition to affecting your everyday life, depression can impair your abilities on the job search or at work. Unfortunately, stigma and lack of awareness make it hard for many people to seek help.

That’s why October 9th is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD). Organizations across the country will participate in NDSD, which is a part of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Talking about mental health issues like depression reduces stigma and increases awareness of help that is available for people who need it.

Thousands of organizations nationwide host a NDSD event each year. The organizations, from hospitals and community organizations to government organizations and military installations, provide information about mood and anxiety disorders and offer screenings—in-person or online—to their community. After completing a screening, those who receive a positive score are given referral information to local agencies that offer further evaluation and treatment if needed.

Raising awareness of depression symptoms and spreading access to free screenings can help at-risk individuals find the mental health help they may need. Locate a screening site near you, or take a free, anonymous screening online.

Get screened today and spread the word. Stay informed about your mental health to feel your best at home, and be your best at work.


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