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A New Ticket Talk Podcast Episode: A Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Projects Working for You!

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Do you need to better understand your Social Security disability benefits? Are you uncertain what will happen to those benefits if you start working again? On our newest Ticket Talk episode, we spoke with a Community Work Incentives Coordinator who can help you answer those questions!

This podcast features Angie Hoffman, who provides one-on-one counseling on disability benefits at the Brevard Achievement Center in Rockledge, Florida. Brevard Achievement Center is a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance, or WIPA, project. WIPA projects are community-based organizations that help disability beneficiaries make informed choices about work, and they help working beneficiaries make a successful transition to financial independence. Each WIPA project has a Community Work Incentives Coordinator like Angie, who advises beneficiaries one-on-one about benefits and the effect of work on those benefits. For example, Angie tells us how she helps beneficiaries create a plan that incorporates their current benefits and their work goals.

Angie explains how you can access a WIPA project near you. And she describes how WIPA projects work together with other service providers, such as Employment Networks to support the employment goals of disability beneficiaries who want to work.

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Anupa Iyer Discusses Mental Health and Youth In Transition

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On our newest Ticket Talk episode, we speak with Anupa Iyer, a young woman who experienced tremendous challenges associated with her mental illness during college and after transitioning to the workforce.

“Work and school helped me recreate my life. With each passing day, I shed my identity as a patient and rebuilt myself as a student, advocate and future attorney.”

Anupa Iyer

This podcast follows Anupa’s journey from school through employment and institutions to the front lines of advocacy for people with disabilities. Anupa discovered her disability as a college student, but her symptoms worsened over time. This resulted in her spending time in institutions and on medications that made it difficult for her to function.. Work helped Anupa rebuild her life and her confidence, and enabled her to reintegrate into the community. While it took eight years before she was ready to share her story, her challenges with mental illness have helped to shape her career.

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Technological Advancements: Empowering and Enabling People with Disabilities

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As you may know, this month was National Disability Employment Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”  In recognition of this campaign, our newest Ticket Talk episode explores the evolving landscape of technological innovations that are empowering and enabling people with disabilities by maximizing their independence, productivity, and participation.

This podcast episode highlights the expansive influence of the internet; how it has changed the way societies communicate, collaborate, advocate and educate.  For people with disabilities, this evolution has unique potential, as it reduces the health digital gap and addresses physical barriers, judgment or stigma. This episode also provides insight into smart phone applications that can act as assistive technology for communications and learning as well as resources for technology training and accommodations.

Check out the podcast or read the transcript.

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Armida Stokes' Story of Success

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Our most recent Ticket Talk podcast episode features an interview with Armida Stokes, a mother of four who encountered personal and professional setbacks, but has improved her health and financial well-being by using Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to help her through her recovery and Ticket to Work to find employment and achieve financial independence.  In this interview, Armida shares her story of losing her job after experiencing multiple back injuries. She describes how she was able to get back on her feet and replace her Social Security benefits with increased earnings from full-time work.

Armida StokesArmida had a strong desire to work again however she was concerned about what would happen if her disability continued to interfere with her ability to work.

With the help of her service provider, the White River Agency on Aging, Armida was able to understand how employment would affect her benefits and which Work Incentives she’d be eligible to use, to make the transition easier.

What most compelled me to take that leap of faith was learning I could keep my Medicare,” she explains. “Expedited Reinstatement also helped me make the decision [to try working full-time]. If for reasons related to my disabilities I was no longer able to do the job, I could go back on disability benefits! This rule made the difference for me.”

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Army Major Jeff Hall Overcomes PTSD

Closing out our recent focus on issues related to Veterans with disabilities, our latest Ticket Talk podcast episode focuses on PTSD. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after extreme emotional trauma.  It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or frightened after a traumatic event, but for people experiencing PTSD, the symptoms may be disruptive to daily life and persist for months or even years. The disorder has received increased attention in recent years, with up to 20% of returning combat warriors of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing symptoms.

We spoke with Army Major Jeff Hall. Major Hall, a combat veteran who served in Baghdad and is a spokesperson for the Department of Defense’s Real Warriors Campaign. Real Warriors is a public awareness campaign created to encourage service members, veterans and military families coping with invisible wounds to seek assistance. To learn more about the Real Warriors Campaign visit www.realwarriors.net.

Major Hall talked to us about how two deployments affected his mental health and career, and how he regained his wellness. “The best advice I can give is to not hide it. The best thing you can do is talk to your family, talk to friends and talk to people that might have like experiences and reach out to other Veterans from other wars. I have found it incredible reaching out to others. ”

Listen to this podcast or read the transcript here.

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Employment Support from Crossroads Diversified Services

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Our newest Ticket Talk podcast features an interview with Dee Gavaldon, Program Manager of Crossroads Diversified Services, an Employment Network, American Job Center (formally called One-Stop) and AbilityOne program participant. Crossroads was established in 1977 as a Sacramento County mental health program, but today it helps people and young adults with all disabilities.

As an expert on disability employment, Dee offers this advice for individuals who have a mental illness and are considering returning to work, or going to work for the first time:

Consider work as part of your recovery. Work in our society, to some extent, defines people. It gives them more power over their own lives, and it also becomes some of the social fabricMany of our friends and acquaintances are people that we work with, and [for] people with disabilities, especially [for] those with mental illness, one of the symptoms is isolation, and the work setting is a very healthy way of breaking that isolation.”

Dee provides insight on the full range of services that Crossroads offers such as interview preparation, resume writing, skills assessments, job training and placement, and on-site job coaching. 

Listen to our podcast to hear Dee’s expert advice on disability employment, or read the transcript here. 

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Reuniting with Megan Riggs!

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Megan Riggs, a Ticket to Work success story, successfully used the Ticket to find employment. We first featured Megan in October 2011, telling the story of how she worked with TransCen, an Employment Network, to find a job as a Document Control Specialist. We recently caught up with her to learn about her progress since then.

Despite some setbacks, Megan is still advancing in her employment journey with the help and support of Ticket to Work and Work Incentives. Watch or read her original success story, and then listen or read the transcript to the Ticket Talk podcast to see how she is doing now!

Megan is proof that the Ticket to Work program and Work Incentives provide continued support and protection even after one has worked enough to reduce or eliminate their cash benefit. Megan is currently using the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) Work Incentive, which provides 36 consecutive months of continued eligibility for Social Security benefits while you work.

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Ticket Talk Podcast: Catching up with Robert Statam

Picture of Ticket Talk Logo Ticket to Work’s success stories feature real people who have successfully used the Ticket to Work program to achieve gainful employment and financial independence. In our April podcast, we talked with Robert Statam, a veteran who used Ticket to Work to improve his quality of life through increased earnings and an improved sense of productivity and dignity. In his story, Robert describes how his service provider, Paralyzed Veterans of America, eased his concerns about making the transition from benefits to employment.

Image of Robert Statam working“I learned there are options which would allow me to prepare for work or make an attempt at work. During that transition period, I would continue to receive benefits. This took away some of the fear and doubt I felt. I knew that if my disability interfered with employment [within five years], I could go back on benefits without a new application.”

Learn more about Robert’s success by reading his story, watching the video or reading posts on Robert on the Choose Work Blog. After learning about his story, be sure to hear how Robert is doing now and listen to the Ticket Talk podcast or read the transcript here.

Ticket to Work helped Robert and it can help you too! Call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Subscribe to Ticket Talk Podcasts to tune in for interviews with program and disability experts, success stories from real beneficiaries, and program news and updates.

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