Section 503 and Social Security's Ticket to Work Virtual Job Fair

From SSA Ticket to Work, February 24, 2016

Ticket to Work Virtual Job Fair graphic in the shape fo a ticket.

If you receive Social Security disability benefits, you may have considered what it would be like to go back to work or to work for the first time. Going to work isn’t easy and may not be the right choice for everyone. But, if you decide that working is right for you, Social Security’s Ticket to Work program can connect you with services and supports to enable you to succeed!  There are many benefits to working.  The one that may come to mind first is the financial benefit: Working often allows you to earn more money than you would have by receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

That sounds great, of course, but you may worry about your chances of getting hired, especially if you’ve been out of workforce for an extended period of time, or haven’t worked at all. The good news is, updates to Section 503 of Rehabilitation Act may make getting hired easier than ever before! 

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal contractors and subcontractors (companies that do work for the government) to take deliberate steps to recruit, hire, and retain people with disabilities. The updated rules encourage employers to make efforts to ensure that 7% of their workforce is made up of individuals with disabilities.  As a result, these companies are now eagerly searching for skilled workers like you! 

Section 503 also allows you to voluntarily self-identify as a person with a disability.  Before being offered a job, federal contractors and subcontractors will give you a form that offers you the opportunity to disclose your disability, if you wish. The form is also designed to help them meet the updated Section 503 regulations.  If you have concerns about disclosing your disability, there’s no need to worry.  The updated Section 503 rules also protect you from being discriminated against when discussing your disability with a federal contractor or subcontractor.

If you’re ready to work and are interested in exploring the employment options that may be available to you as a result of Section 503, on March 16, 2016, Social Security will host its second Ticket to Work Virtual Job Fair. The job fair is open to individuals with disabilities whose Ticket is currently “assigned” to an Employment Network (EN) or state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency and who are ready to accept a job, should an offer be made. If you’re working with an EN or VR agency, be sure to tell your service provider or counselor that you want to participate in the Ticket to Work Virtual Job Fair; they’ll help you register and fill out a required consent form and may attend the fair with you.

Not sure if you have a Ticket? Want to know if your Ticket is currently “assigned” to an EN or a VR? Call the Ticket to Work helpline at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. E.T. We can also tell you more about the Ticket to Work program and other Social Security Work Incentives that can make working easier. Feel free to visit or e-mail We’ll be happy to help you figure how Section 503 may work for you!

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