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D.C.'s Unemployed Have Another Option In 'Ticket To Work'

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America Works just launched its Ticket to Work program in D.C. to help Social Security benefits recipients, many of whom have been out of work for some time, find jobs.
Courtney Collins
America Works just launched its Ticket to Work program in D.C. to help Social Security benefits recipients, many of whom have been out of work for some time, find jobs.

Paula Stevenson hasn't worked since 2009 and is currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI); but she'd like to be employed again.

"Well I've always been an active person and I've always had a job," she says.

America Works, a private workforce development firm that specializes in hard-to-place employees, recently launched its Ticket to Work program in D.C. and is trying to help Stevenson and others get hired again. She's found she's intimidated by the job search process. "It would be too hard to do it for myself," she says.

Stevenson worked with staff at an open house this week and signed on with Ticket to Work, hoping to gain employment as a housekeeper.

The program is funded through the Social Security Administration. Project Analyst Matthew Silverstein says the group will work with anyone under 65 who's receiving SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance.

"Sometimes they've been out of work for many years and America Works comes in and we act as the network that they don't have," says Silverstein.

In essence, the program gives hard to place candidates a leg up. America Works builds relationships in the business community and helps set up interviews for job seekers. It also provides job readiness training.

"We help them make a resume, we do mock interviewing, we do clothing referrals; sometimes we give them transportation fees to go to and from the interviews," says Silverstein.

Many people who come to the Ticket to Work program have a financial need to rejoin the workforce. Silverstein estimates about 10,000 people in the D.C. area are eligible for the program.

"There are some in this bad economy who just can't afford to live just on their benefits anymore," he adds.

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