Disability Services

Employment and Job Support

Two woman and a man looking at a laptop.

 

Our comprehensive disability employment services help adults and youth explore strengths, interests and get ready for work.  Learn how employment may impact your public benefits, participate in paid transitional work experience at real work sites or find a job with a variety of employers and get support in your new role.

 ​​

Employment and Job Support

Personalized, flexible job placement services are the heart of GESMN’s mission; we work closely with job seekers and employers to connect people to a career.

  • Explore goals, strengths, and interests and plan for a career.

  • Prepare for interviews and build personal skills in employment & career readiness trainings.
  • Shadow a professionals or try-out job.
  • Receive ongoing job support from experienced staff to ensure success.

For information, contact: 

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext. 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar - Shelly Bormann 320-214-9238

Twin Cities - Kyle Van Acker 651-379-5957

Individualized Placement and Support (IPS)

IPS services provide tailored job placement, job support and career navigation to Olmsted County residents seeking treatment at Zumbro Valley Health Center in partnership with GESMN. Career navigators’ partner with mental health practitioners to offer individualized support.

Retail Skills Training

Retail Skills Training is an eight-week course designed to provide job skills for the retail industry. Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota provides individuals with an average of 10 hours of paid training per week. This is a referral based program only and not open to the general public.

What to expect

  • 160-hour course
  • Hands-on work experience at local retail businesses
  • Instructions in retail terminology, customer service, safety, cashiering, stocking, time management, communication skills, problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Guest speakers from within the retail industry
  • Financial literacy training
  • Employment readiness training - resume development, application preparation, interview skills, job search and retention skills training
  • Assistance with job placement and follow-up services for graduates
  • Support to achieve long-term career goals

Due to COVID-19, most classes have moved to an online format.

For information, contact:

St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext. 108

Twin Cities -  Andrea West 651-379-5634

Disability Benefits Support

Photo of a woman in a wheelchair smiling.

Work Incentives Connection (WIC)

WIC just received $1.3 million for five years in a new cooperative agreement award from social security to operate the only Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s only Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program

Get disability benefits planning help from experts about Social Security work incentives designed to help you succeed if you are working or want to work. 

  • Understand the options and possibilities to help you make informed choices about increasing work earnings or going to work.
  • Work incentives make it possible to keep some or all of your benefits while exploring work, during a transition period or while working.
  • A variety of services are available ranging from information and referral, in-depth problem solving, to a customized benefit analysis with long-term follow up available.

To be eligible, you must be a Social Security beneficiary with a disability from 14 to full retirement age, this includes transition to work aged youth and veterans.

Knowledgeable staff called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) certified by Virginia Commonwealth University can show how you are ahead by working in most cases.  Services are provided in partnership with Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA)project of the Social Security Administration. No person served will be charged a fee for services.

Getting Started

Anyone with questions about work and disability benefits planning can call the hotline. This includes beneficiaries who are working, have a job offer pending or previously received WIPA services.

Call the hotline at 1-800-976-6728 (toll-free) or 651-632-5113 (MN Relay – 711). Or email workincentivesconnection@gesmn.org

For Vocational Rehabilitation Services referrals only, contact rkschuette@gesmn.org.

For general information about the Ticket to Work and work incentives, contact the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 TTY, or visit Choose Work!


Helpful resources

2021 Medicare Handbook

2020 Red Book

 

WIPA is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Social Security Administration (Social Security) at taxpayer expense. While Social Security has reviewed this material for technical accuracy, it is not an official Social Security publication.

Transitional Employment

Photo of a man and woman sitting and talking at a desk in an office.

Transitional Employment

People with disabilities can get exposure to work through hands-on, paid experience at employer partner sites.

  • Identify employment strengths and barriers, set goals and start a career
  • Build fundamental work and interviewing skills, develop career goals and get assistance with job searching
  • Explore employment interests through informational interviews and by shadowing people in specific occupations
  • Research employers and job fit, understand resumes, the application process and interview skills
  • Transition aged youth get on-the-job learning, receive ongoing performance feedback and support to manage workplace expectations

For more information, complete this form or contact: 

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud - Julie Danda 320-654-9527 ext 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar - Shelly Bormann 320-214-9238

Twin Cities - Andrea West 651-379-5634

On-the-Job Evaluation

Our evaluation helps people with disabilities identify challenges to employment and better understand the skills, strengths and accommodations that will help them succeed at their jobs.

  • Take an evaluation in a real work environment.
  • Build essential skills like communication, safety, work quality and more.
  • Receive employment recommendations that match individual skills and abilities.

For more information, complete this form or call 651-379-5603.

Student Career Services

Woman with glasses standing outside holding a binder and some notebooks.

Student Career Services

The transition from youth to adulthood is critical for every young person and extra support is available for students with disabilities. GESMN helps students ages 14-21 with disabilities gain experience to inform career decisions.

Workplace Readiness Training: Prepare for careers, build common employment skills and positive work habits and understand the impact of work on public benefits.

  • Benefits information services
  • Independent Living Services or Soft Skills Training
  • Job-seeking Skills Training
  • Public Transportation Training

Job Exploration Transition Counseling: Explore industries and individual jobs to make informed career decisions.

Postsecondary Educational Counseling: Get help making the next steps to college.

Introduction to Self-advocacy: Understand and confidently communicate strengths, needs and interests.

Work-based Learning: Receive hands on-the-job support and coaching while gaining experience and skills.

Introductory Work Activities: Use real work examples to share knowledge and skills that help students connect academic learning to real-life work activities.

  • Career mentoring
  • Informational interviews
  • Job shadowing
  • Workplace tours and field trips

Contact us

Elk River, Monticello & St. Cloud

Julie Danda

320-654-9527 ext 108

Hutchinson, Mankato & Willmar

Shelly Bormann

320-214-9238

Twin Cities

Andrea West

651-379-5634