Celebrating 50 Years of the Rehabilitation ActReading Time: 3 Minutes
Last Updated: September 27, 2023
This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This law prohibits disability-related discrimination in programs that are run by federal agencies or receive federal funding. It also protects federal employees and contractors from discrimination.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action to recruit, hire, employ, promote, and retain qualified people with disabilities.
Some highlights of Section 503 include:
- Federal contractors must strive to ensure that at least 7% of their job groups or workforce – depending on the size of the employer – are employees with disabilities.
- Federal contractors must invite job applicants and new and current employees to voluntarily self-identify as having a disability.
- Federal contractors and subcontractors must have a written plan outlining specific steps they will take to recruit, hire, train, promote and retain people with disabilities.
Section 503 and Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program
Section 503 provides job opportunities for qualified people with disabilities. Our Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program can help connect you with jobs.
The Ticket Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, participants can work with service providers to receive the supports and services they need to find and maintain employment. This allows them to move toward financial independence through work.
Organizations that provide employment-related services, like State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and American Job Centers (AJCs) can help you find federal contractors and subcontractors. If you’re eligible for the Ticket Program, an Employment Network (EN) may also help.
Many federal contractors and subcontractors look to State VR agencies, AJCs, and ENs to find qualified candidates with disabilities to fill open positions. Search and learn more about these service providers using the Find Help Tool on our Ticket Program website.
Angel: Success on the Job with Ticket to Work and Section 503
When Angel was issued a medical retirement from the U.S. military, he started receiving Social Security disability benefits that allowed him to focus on recovering his health. When he was ready to work, Angel worried that having a disability would make it difficult for him to find employment. Then he learned about Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and discovered that federal contractors were looking for qualified job seekers with disabilities just like him.
Connecting with an EN helped him find the answers to his questions. It also provided supports and services he needed to transition smoothly to work for a federal contractor servicing the U.S. Department of Defense. Learn more in Angel’s Ticket to Work success story, “Wingman.”
Start Your Path to Financial Independence with Ticket to Work and Section 503
Would you like to work for a federal contractor? If so, we encourage you to check out our fact sheet, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, developed for Social Security disability beneficiaries.
To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit our website or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask for a list of service providers or find providers on your own using the Ticket Program Find Help Tool.
You can also learn more by registering for a free, online Work Incentives Seminar Event webinar. Or, text TICKET to 474747 to receive Ticket Program texts. Standard messaging rates may apply, and you can opt out at any time.
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