Some folks who receive Social Security disability benefits qualify for a free federal work program that can help them find a job.
Few eligible New Mexicans actually enrolled in the program last year, but participation is improving some.
Almost 7,000 people enrolled in the Ticket to Work program last year. That's a couple thousand more folks than the year before, but it’s still just 7 percent of everyone who qualifies.
Jill Beets is with the Adelante Development Center, a nonprofit in Albuquerque that provides resources for people with disabilities. She said there are a few reasons why that number is so low, including "the digital divide where people don’t have access to computers, for example."
Beets also said people don’t enroll in the program because they don’t want to lose their Social Security benefits.
"It can often take upwards of two years to get signed on to Social Security disability," she said. "A lot of people with disabilities don’t know that they can get fast-tracked back on if their job doesn’t work out."
No one is required to enroll, but if you’re curious, contact your local disability service group. You can also email Adelante at email@example.com.
Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation and from KUNM listeners like you.