I suffered from agoraphobia since the age of 13. Crowds and open spaces we very difficult for me to handle. Getting through high school was quite a challenge, but I succeeded and earned my diploma. After high school, I hit rock bottom in my life. I had to move into a group home due to the fact that my mom and I didn’t know how to deal with my agoraphobia. I was lucky to be able to receive SSDI and receive the treatments I needed to get myself healthy again. I always knew I wanted to work and feel productive in life. I wanted to help people in situations like my own. I was determined to start looking for work.
After being able to move back home, I looked into the Ticket to Work Program and received my list of Employment Networks from Maximus. I found Employment Options and reluctantly called Sheika, in Customer service/screening. I was quite nervous talking to her, but it was a piece of cake. I started to feel like – I can do this. I then spoke with Flora and gave her my work background. I told her that I had experience as a Vocational Counselor and also in Work from home. Paula then wanted to speak with me. By the grace of God, she hired me with Employment Options! Working again has given me such a new outlook on life. Working makes me feel productive- helping others with disabilities has been a dream of mine especially since I can put myself in my clients’ shoes. There is no bigger reward for me then to get my clients back to work. Working makes me feel empowered…
I do not suffer any longer from Agoraphobia. I actually travel to Florida for work meetings and look forward to the trips. Working makes me feel proud. Paula has helped me grow and become the Job Counselor that I am today. With the help of Employment Options, I live my life to the fullest. I am now married with two small children of my own, run a household while being able to work from home. I am so lucky to have found Employment Options and have the chance to give back to others. I would not have the wonderful life I have without having the courage to go back to work. Thanks to Employment Options and the Ticket to Work program for changing my life!
Watch Lisa’s video to learn more about her Ticket to Work success story:
For many years, Emma worked as a customer service associate to help provide for her family. Life was going well for some time, then suddenly her life fell apart. She lost her husband after 30 years and then became very ill. She was forced to apply for Social Security disability benefits but still needed to find work.
Emma did her own research about the Ticket to Work Program and found Employment Options. She applied online and was then assigned a job counselor, who helped with resume writing, interview practice, and everything needed to prepare Emma to return to the workforce…
At 52, Emma is a much healthier, happier, and independent woman working as a Customer Service Representative for a national Work at Home employer. She was able to use her previous work history to get hired. Emma is grateful for her job and new accomplishments. What a great example of perseverance and using the Ticket to Work Program to become more independent and self-sufficient … way to go Emma!
Emma’s personally written story
“If it wasn’t for the endless effort of my job counselor, Sandy Darnell, I don’t think I would have been able to take the steps needed to get back into the workforce. She worked with me nonstop and slowly rebuilt my self-esteem. She spoke with me over the phone often and sent me emails with exercises that I could practice, to ready myself for entry into the workforce. Finally, when she thought I was ready, she sent me jobs to apply for. I was terrified to face this process again, including applying for a job, doing the interview and selling myself to the prospective employer; but I did it – with her help.
I applied for the first job she sent me and three days later – I got the job! I was ecstatic! I called Sandy immediately and she was so proud of me. Now at the age of 52, I feel once again that I am a healthy functioning, working woman. Thanks Sandy and Employment Options for all of your help!”
Depression and Social Anxiety
Anna suffered from depression for many years in her life, as well as anxiety, including social anxiety, which made it hard to work and be around others. Eventually, she even lost the will to try to look for a job.
Anna had previous work experience in the medical and health care fields and had always liked working in those industries. She knew she wanted to return to work, or possibly ‘try’ again, but she was worried about many things – including how working again would affect her overall health, as well as what would happen to her Social Security cash benefits, which she depended on for herself and her daughter…
Anna did research and discovered the Ticket to Work program. She learned that this free program is specifically for people, like her, who receive SSDI or SSI disability benefits from Social Security. She was ecstatic to learn that the expert services in the program could help her return to the workforce, while protecting her cash benefits and healthcare. She researched employment networks in the program and found Employment Options. She then submitted an application for Work at Home jobs.
When Anna came to Employment Options, she had just completed a medical coding and billing course. Her schooling helped her to find an internship at a local hospital, which gave her hands-on experience and references – which is a requirement to work from home in the medical billing or coding field.
Employment Options went to work for Anna right away. She was assigned to her own job counselor who worked one-on-one with her. She received assistance on writing her resume and even practicing for interviews. She started to see her self-confidence increasing! An Employment Options’ Benefits Counselor explained the stages of Ticket to Work. Anna was feeling more at ease.
Anna is a very hard worker and though her journey has had its up and downs, she feels thankful to have found the program because it allowed her to achieve even higher goals than she originally set for herself!
Anna’s personally written story: “I suffered throughout my life with depression and major anxiety issues, which included social anxiety. It became hard to work around people and I lost the will to look for a job on my own. I knew I wanted to return to work in the medical field, but I had a lot of fears and concerns about my health and disability benefits.
The Ticket to Work program and Employment Options motivated me to get back out there and try. After I started working, sometimes I had anxiety and I had difficulty dealing with distractions. I also had problems relating to people and working with people due to my mental health disorders. Sarah Lind, my personal job counselor, was there to counsel me and help me with learning coping skills.
Before I found Employment Options, I didn’t understand how working would affect my benefits and I didn’t have any resources to turn to. I was totally in the dark. I’m grateful I found Employment Options and learned about work incentives. I would not have even tried to go back to work without the safety net of the Trial Work Period. Teresa Nier was great with benefits counseling and explaining what happens after the Trial Work Period. I really appreciated that she was able to provide me with an earnings sheet that I could take to Social Security.
Sarah also helped me with my resume, which helped increase my confidence to go out there and try. The staff helped me overcome my barriers. They really listened to me and counseled me when I needed it the most. When I had interviews scheduled, I was so nervous, but Sarah helped to calm me down and get through them.
I now work from home as an Outpatient Coder who prepares for the medical billing! Before I found my current position, I took jobs that I knew would not be long term. But, these jobs gave me work experience and were stepping stones in my career. When I needed a new job, Sarah helped me update my resume and practice interviewing.
Through the counseling I received from the staff at My Employment Options, as well as having found a job that pays well, I gained the confidence to become self-sufficient again! I am now working on a plan for further career advancement. I am really glad that this is also an important part of the Ticket to Work program. Ticket to Work has allowed me to become a great role model for my daughter!”
Ruth’s personal journey, which led her to the Ticket to Work Program, is one of great challenge, hard work and never giving up on herself — no matter what!
When Ruth was born in the 1950′s, they didn’t know then that she had cerebral palsy. She had other issues that she was born with and she attended various grammar schools to help her get the special education that she needed for her disability. The very day after graduating high school, Ruth began submitting applications. She was hired as a file clerk with Bankers Life and Causality Company, where she worked for over 33 1/2 years…
Sadly, Ruth’s company, like many modern companies, was downsized and she lost her job. She worked with various Chicago agencies to learn how to do things she had never done before – such as write a resume and interview.
Even after 300 applications, Ruth never gave up. She was able to attend an event hosted by the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. There, she learned about a on-line job fair hosted by Ability Links. She attended online and connected with Ray Morrison, a job counselor from Employment Options.
Ruth assigned her ‘ticket to work’ to Employment Options and worked very hard with Ray to find employment. She was able to also attend an event that Employment Options’ CEO, Paula Vieillet, held where she got to meet various managers and speak with Paula directly. After much persistence, Ruth learned a few weeks later, that Paula was hiring directly!
Ruth is a hard working, dedicated employee who truly enjoys and appreciates the opportunity to work again. She defines what a true Ticket to Work success story is all about — overcoming challenges and adversity and gaining greater independence! She loves working, learning new skills and helping her fellow co-workers — Congrats Ruth! We are very proud of you and all of your successes!
Ruth’s personally written story:
“I suffered severe brain damage at birth, and because of my disability, went to many doctors and different schools. About 5 years ago, I suffered a bad stroke, which gave me Bell’s palsy, but was healed with therapy. I went for a CT Scan which showed that I have Cerebral Palsy. I learned that I had it since birth, but we didn’t know, because back in 1951 there was no such thing as a CT Scan.
I went to 3 different grammar schools growing up because I had to attend special education. I also had to go to a special high school (Schurz High School). I graduated from Schurz and the next day I went to several companies to fill out applications. I didn’t have to go for an interview back then and I filled out an application as a file clerk at Bankers Life & Casualty Company.
I received a phone call stating that I got the job! It was June 29, 1970 when I started at Bankers. I worked there for 33 ½ years and was able to advance my skills by taking typing and computer classes that the company offered to employees. I was promoted to work in Agent Licenses as a database specialist.
In 2004, I sadly got the word that I was going to be laid off because of downsizing. My manager Luann gave me a surprise farewell party. After I left Bankers Life, they gave me a company to go to for help in getting a job, but it was unsuccessful.
I went to the mayor’s office who directed me to the Hiawatha Department of Human Services office in Chicago. I worked with a company who helped me learn how to write a resume and how to interview (which I never had to do before). I worked extremely hard with the job leads including joining the DHS job club. I did my own research on resumes, interviews, and cover letters. I applied at over 300 companies & went to 20 different interviews. I also went to different job fairs, but still no job. I knew I had the skills and abilities that a company would be very glad to have.
During my years of looking for a job, I got invited to a special Ticket to Work program meeting at the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. I learned that the Ticket to Work program is free to help those who receive SSDI and/or SSI disability benefits return to the workforce and connect with employers nationwide. I also found a website called Ability Links, who had a Virtual job fair online. I was able to connect with a vocational counselor (Ray Morrison) from Employment Options (MyEmploymentOptions), who was part of the Ticket to Work program. I applied with Employment Options and assigned my personal ‘ticket to work’ to them. Ray was my job counselor and we worked endlessly together on job leads.
At one point, I was invited to a workshop that Paula Vieillet, CEO of Employment Options, was hosting in Chicago. I was able to meet her and give her my resume. Paula and Lori Adler, who also worked at Employment Options, went to a luncheon where there were managers from various companies that I could give my resume to. A few weeks later, Paula herself sent me an email to offer me a job as her assistant. I accepted! I was so excited and I promised that I would be the best employee she could ask for.
I’ve been at Employment Options now for 1 ½ years working out of my own home, as a Database Specialist. I really enjoy working again and learning many new job tasks!
Thank you to Paula for saving my life and having confidence in me to give me a job. Thank you also to the Ticket to Work program for letting Paula create Employment Options Inc!”
Susan’s story is about hardship, determination, and beating the odds. In the early 2000’s, Susan was a nurse and had been enjoying her career. However, her nursing job would also cause her back injury, which would change her life forever. The extreme pain made her pursue a new career at the State of North Carolina Department of Corrections.
Even though she had a new job, her back pain began bothering her more and more. The pain she dealt with was unbearable and many days she would lay on the floor at work in severe pain. Her pain grew so bad she had her first back surgery in 2002. This would be 1 of 16 different back surgeries that should would face…
Susan was in and out of hospitals over the next several years. She had to endure being told by doctors that she might not ever walk again, and for sure, would never work again.
Susan always had an inner drive inside her that made her fight even harder. Despite what the doctors told her, in a few months after being released home, she returned to work! However, the happiness was short lived. She was hurt at work again and had another surgery. The pain by now was so unbearable that she had no choice but to apply for social security disability benefits.
A year later, despite all the odds against her, she started water aerobics. In six months, she was swimming again and knew she had always wanted to work again. Several questions loomed in her mind? Should she return to the workforce again and what would happen to her Social security benefits?
Through research, she learned about a free return to work program for those like herself on SSDI/ or SSI benefits. She discovered that the Ticket to Work program could help her find employment for free and with the help of an expert agency. She found Employment Options, applied and was assigned to Lisa Seeley, her job counselor. They worked together on everything from job coaching, resumes, applications, understanding the program and meeting goals. She found work in as little as 2 months from home as a customer service representative. In October 2012, she was promoted to a non-phone position! She will be starting a brand new position in April of this year!
Susan is now thriving and is working and doing things that she was told she would never do again!
Congrats to you Susan for your hard work and never giving up on yourself or your dreams!
Susan’s personally written story:
Where do I begin? I was working as a nurse when I hurt my back in 2000. The injury was so bad I had to stop my nursing career and find another job. I began a career at the state of North Carolina Department of Corrections. When I started there, my back was still so bad I thought to myself I cannot do this. I would often lie down on the floor at work in severe pain. I was hurting so badly that in 2002 that I had my first of 16 back surgeries. In 2004, I had a double spinal fusion. That was my down fall. I got a staph infection that almost killed me.
I spent many days in the ICU. My doctors thought I would never make it through. They basically wrote me off. I was released home with IV medications running through my body- 24/7. On top of this , my hardware dislodged causing even more excruciating pain. They said I would never go back to work, let alone walk again.
Well four months later, I surprised everyone and returned back to work. Only to have my career come to a halt. In 2008, I was severely assaulted by an inmate that forced the doctors to put me out of work once again. I had back surgery # 15.
I was so depressed and so tired of living in pain. I thought to myself is this what my life is going to be? I had no choice but to apply for Social Security disability. In 2010, I had my last back surgery. I was using a walker to get around, then a cane.
In 2011, I walked into my local recreation center and started taking water Aerobics. Six months later, I started swimming again. I then decided to try and go back to work. But would I lose my disability check? Should I work out in the general workforce again? Would my back take it? This is when I started to research the Ticket to Work Program where I found Employment Options and Ms. Seeley.
I was back to work in as little as 2 months. The first job was not for me. But, I started a new job in July 2012. Later that year, I was promoted. I thought to myself wow this cannot be! Not so long ago I was thinking that I would never be able to have a normal life again.
Thanks to Employment Options I will be starting a new position from home soon where I might be able to be a trainer. My life has changed so much. I am now swimming over a mile in laps every day, lifting weights, starting new relationships and working from home. I am training for competition swim meets too! Wow, what a change. This goes to show even if the doctors have you down and out, never ever give up on yourself! You will be amazed at what you can do!
Survival Through Hardship
Julie’s story is one about challenges, determination and personal growth.
A journey with great accomplishments, but also hard times.
Julie’s childhood wasn’t easy and she was in the foster care system. This often created great stress, fears, and bad environments. She had trouble coping at times…
In her 20′s, Julie found her way to healthier environments and started to learn new coping methods and focused on how to better herself. She was grateful for her SSDI benefits, but knew, she didn’t want to depend on them the rest of her life. She wanted to provide for herself and start living again.
Julie received a pamphlet from Social Security about the Ticket to Work program which led her to Employment Options. Julie has worked closely with her assigned Community Vocational Consultant, Ray Morrison, for 3 years. Ray coached her one-on-one and helped her locate employment while attending college and also explained the program.
Julie has used the Ticket to Work program to the fullest to advance her education and find fulfilling work. She is now completely self sufficient and no longer needs to receive disability benefits.
Julie is one of our star clients! She has never let her challenges stop her and is a true Ticket to Work success story. She always takes the advice given to her and keeps moving forward. Congratulations Julie! We are very proud of your hard work and continue to be inspired by your story! Thank you for sharing!
Below you will find Julie’s personally written story.
“For me, my story continues as a journey………. a journey to become the best woman and friend and wife that I can be….
I’ll have to go back into history a bit to magnify just how far I have come.
As a child I grew up in the system. I was a foster child and to honestly describe myself, I was very self-destructive. I held onto the pain that brought me into states custody, and did not know how to deal with it. An accumulation of bad decisions on my part, led me to make one of the best and worst decisions when I was 16. I got married. I went from the frying pan, into the fire.
Needless to say, it was not a good marriage and lots of bad things happened along with some good. I was a childhood survivor of abuse and stepped into an adult world full of more abuse. My first 20 something years of life had its toll on my outlook and coping skills. I thought nothing of making a career, just mainly trying to survive.
Finally, I got away from the bad and started working on ‘me.’ Through therapy and mainly trial and error, I had to learn how to be myself again. This also meant trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I did not want to live off of disability for the rest of my life, and to be honest, it really was not living, it was just surviving…..
I heard about the Ticket to Work program through one of the pamphlets that Social Security sends out. I called and they sent me a whole list of prospective agencies. Most of them were not in my area, and I talked to about 20 different people before I found Employment Options.
I decided to go with them and was set up with my counselor, Ray Morrison. I have been working with Ray now for 3 years. He helped me get back into the work force, for one, by helping me locate job openings that were within my job set and use skills that I already had. I started out part-time as a server at Cracker Barrel.
While working there, I also went back to college. I knew that in today’s world, it was going to take a lot more education than my GED, if I truly wanted to succeed in today’s job market. Going to school and working part time allowed me to see what I wanted to do with my future. It gave me more options. I completed a State program for Certified Nursing Assistants and have also completed all of the pre-requisites for the Advanced Degree in Nursing program. All that is left for me to do is become accepted into a Nursing Program!
I am currently a Relief Supervisor Med Tech/Certified Nursing Assistant with goals of one day becoming a hospice nurse. The road continues to be bumpy, but I strive to do my best each and every day. Never letting my disability to hold me back anymore…. Success is measured differently, everywhere. I had to take baby steps to get where I am. Success can be attained, if only you persevere through the hardest of times, and celebrate the good, no matter how small the good may be.”
Edna’s life had always been busy, but it was a routine she was thankful for. However, in November 2005, life threw her a curve ball and everything came to a screeching halt. She was diagnosed with cancer and she thought how could it be? She had to endure obstacle after obstacle including 6 weeks of chemo, radiation, and surgeries.
The continuing health issues and time off created strain at her current job and she was laid off. She searched and searched for work on her own, but to no avail. By this time, her health had deteriorated even more and she decided it was best to file for Social Security Disability benefits. She was grateful for the benefits, but during this time, also worked hard every day to get her strength back…
Edna began to feel stronger day by day and her desire to contribute to society really never left her mind. She researched the Ticket to Work program and how Social Security created it for citizens receiving SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits so that they can receive free assistance with finding a job. It allowed her to ‘try’ to return to work without fear of losing her benefits and health insurance immediately.
Edna found Employment Options from a list of agencies in the program. She simply applied on the website and and the screening staff informed her that she was a good match for Employment Options’ jobs. She was elated! With her health issues, she first wanted to try Work from home, but soon realized, as some job seekers do, that working outside the home would be better for her as a ‘people person.’
Edna’s work-at-home counselor simply referred her to a Community counselor within Employment Options who immediately worked one-on-one and role played the interview process and answered questions about Ticket to Work’s safety nets and incentives.
Edna began to apply for positions where her abilities would be most suited. She used what she learned from her counselor and was elated when she got a management position!
Edna is a true example of how hard work and a positive attitude can lead to personal success! Way to go Edna and keep up your hard work in the Ticket to Work program! You are a great example to all and thank you for sharing your story to help others!
Below you will find Edna’s personally written story.
“In November of 2005, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. I had 6 weeks of chemo and radiation. I then had surgery to remove my rectum and reconstruct my colon. I had to wear a temporary bag during the healing process. I let my body rest for two months and then had chemo for another 6 months. In 2007, I had a second surgery.
With the lack of muscle control and other declining health issues, I started having problems with my current job. I was laid off in 2009. After not being able to find a job on my own, I seemed to get worse and filed for Social Security Disability. During the time I was on disability, I was able to get myself in better shape and learned how to better deal with my illness.
I learned about the Ticket to Work program for Social Security beneficiaries on my own. I found a part time job and talked to someone at the Iowa Work Force center. I later got to the point to where I felt I wanted to try to go back to work full-time, but at the same time, was scared to lose my disability benefits and health insurance if I did.
I received a list of people who contracted with the Ticket to Work Program and I chose My Employment Options overall and researched them. I wanted to try working from home, but after a while, realized that did not work best for me. My dog was too noisy and my Internet and home phone service was not reliable. I am a people person too!
Lisa in the Work-at-home department at Employment Options introduced me to her fellow staff member, Sarah, who is a job Counselor in the Community division. Sarah went over the workbook sent to with me written by the company President. I had the ‘client version’ and Sarah used the ‘counselor version’ to work with me step by step virtually. It helped me to build a profile and integrate it all into my resume. She discussed the interview process in the workbook and we roll played the interview process together.
Sarah allowed me to stop and make comments or ask questions. She really helped me to understand that what I said and how I said it was very important for the interview. I had always been afraid to sell myself to an employer and never really understood what my strengths and weaknesses were.
Sarah was very patient and caring during all of our work together. I applied for the Property Management position at the apartment complex where I live. Sarah gave me the confidence and education I needed for the interview. I am 60 years old and just knew that I would not find a full time job at my age.
You cannot imagine my joy and excitement when I was called at 8:30 in the morning with a job offer. In the call, the district manager said she felt that my ‘Maturity’ was what the office and property needed. I praised God all day long. I give God the praise for healing me of cancer, (6 1/2 years cancer free) and I give God the credit for bringing me to My Employment Options and ultimately to Sarah. I started my first day at work on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Praise God!”
Virginia worked many years in various customer service related positions in her state of Mississippi. She was a hard worker and worked outside the home for some time. Life was moving along, but then Virginia became sick and wasn’t able to continue working. This change was devastating.
After time passed, Virginia decided to return to the workforce again. This was a big mountain to face and she was scared. She had not even filled out an application in years and was concerned that no company would want to hire her…
Virginia researched the Ticket to Work program and discovered Employment Options. Her previous experience in customer service was evident and she was assigned a job counselor who immediately started to coach her, step by step, on applications, resumes and much more, preparing her for the workforce. She could feel her confidence returning.
Virginia was able to obtain a Work-at-Home Customer Service position within a month! She continues to be an excellent client because she is hard working, driven, and loyal. She loves working from home and is thriving! What a great story of facing challenges head on and succeeding! Ticket to Work is changing lives! Way to Go Virginia! We are very proud of you!
Below you will find Virginia’s personally written story
“I had been out of the work force for several years when I came to Employment Options. Having not filled out an application in years, and also feeling like I was a “disabled” human being, I wondered who would want me to work for them. Pam Barnette, my assigned job counselor, changed all of that for me. She helped me make a resume that highlighted my work skills, personality, and also my experience in several fields. She reminded me of just what I was capable of and also helped me feel my worth again. It was a service that was in valuable to me.
I cannot put into words how much this changed my life. Not only did I find work within a month, but I also regained confidence in myself that I never thought I would see again. I am so thankful to Pam and all the other employees at Employment Options. They were all so helpful. They have continued to make sure that I am succeeding in what I set out to do. I could not be happier!”
Chris worked a number of years in database management and business intelligence for Fortune 500 companies. He didn’t let a new illness define him. He entered the Ticket to Work Program determined and eager to contribute his skills again. Chris worked diligently with his job counselor at Employment Options and made the most of his experience.
Chris is now working for the U.S. Government’s General Services Administration as a Transportation Operations Specialist (Data Analytics). He was hired for this position through the government’s Schedule A hiring program for individuals with disabilities. Chris enjoys doing performance tracking and database management. What a great example of transferable skills and complete determination. Way to go Chris!…
Below you will find Chris’s personally written story.
“The entire staff at Employment Options treated my case with diligence and respect. My counselor – Sarah Lind – fed me job opportunities from quality sources and made sure that I had a follow up plan. Working with Paula, the two crafted a resume for me that garnered attention and got interviews. Now gainfully employed, Sarah continues to touch base from time to time as my Trial Work Period draws to a close”
Physical Disability and Depression
Pearl was born with a natural, athletic ability and an outgoing personality. When choosing a career path as an adult, she was attracted to military life due to its strict physical regime. Following her service to the United States Army, she chose working in the sales field because it provided consistent opportunities for her to work with the public.
“No one expects to become disabled,” the military veteran relates. “I was working in the remodeling industry selling cabinets when it happened to me. In 2010, I was moving sample cabinet doors and broke a little bone in my thumb. The surgery for my thumb shocked my body, and everything froze up. I couldn’t move my neck, hands, or arms. I had 20 surgeries thereafter to help my joints move.”…
Pearl picked up a flyer about My Employment Options (MEO) and the free federal Ticket to Work Program at the Veterans Administration and followed up with an application. She accepted her first job following her disability through MEO but didn’t care for it. To her delight, when she shared her feelings about the job with her MEO job counselor (Ethel), her counselor explained that she would help her find a different job that was a better fit. Ethel said, “If you are unhappy, this job is not for you.”
Now working outside the public, Pearl notes, “I was never one to sit in front of a computer. In my past jobs, I worked daily with the public in outside sales. I cannot do that any longer. Surprisingly, I like my current Work at Home job handling travel for executives. It is kind of fun.” Pearl’s current Work at Home employer has been very accommodating about letting her come back to work after surgery and went the extra mile by purchasing a stand-up desk which helps take the physical strain off her body.
During her tenure with this company, Pearl was rear-ended in a car accident and re-injured her back. “My company has been really good to me and very kind,” she relates. “They sent me a computer and set it up so my work would not be interrupted during my healing process and I could continue to work my 15 hours per week.”
My Employment Options’ employees, Teresa and Ethel, have both been supportive to Pearl who reports, “They ask about my needs and desires. They tell me if there is something I can’t handle, that is okay. It takes a while to fully realize and accept that you can’t do many of the things you used to do before you became disabled. Disability is not my fault. It just happened.” Pearl is discovering her abilities and focusing on what she can do rather than lamenting about her limitations.
Before her disability, Pearl would run in the morning and then physically work the rest of the day. Even though she cannot run today, she can do something! Regular exercise helps her move and stay in shape, which is now possible with her street strider.
Pearl has also struggled with depression since her disability. She has found her MEO job counselor to be a good listener and a great encouragement during those times. “I am so glad we clicked!” she exclaims. “I am very happy with My Employment Options. Their service and my job have made a huge impact on my quality of life!”
Sonya understands how transforming a disability can be. She relates, “When you work all your life and then something happens where you can’t work, it’s hard.”
The Social Security Administration disability ‘return to work’ program was able to help her during the most difficult times. Several years ago, Sonya googled whether or not someone could work and get Social Security disability benefits. Her search yielded a story about Lisa Seeley and the Ticket to Work Program…
Proactive in her work effort, Sonya contacted Lisa who put her in touch with Employment Options who explained the Ticket To Work Program and the free job placement services they offer. She also offered an application to fill out online to see if Employment Options could help. They could help! She became a client and a job counselor was assigned to help her with her goals and also help guide her through the program.
“Initially, I was offered a stay-at-home phone sales position, but I wanted to work ‘outside’ the home as an accountant,” Sonya reports. She was able to find an accounting position outside the home which was a better fit for her situation.
Sonya says, “The Ticket to Work Program is a great program! It is good to know I won’t lose my disability benefits if something happens to me while I am a participant.”
Sonya views her participation in Ticket to Work as a safety net while thriving in life despite her disability. Routinely, she submits her pay stubs so that Employment Options can help track her benefits and stays in touch with her personal job counselor at Employment Options, Ethel, with whom she has a wonderful rapport.
Shortly after returning to work, Sonya and her mother both received a devastating cancer diagnosis. Her mother died within three months. Sonya is in remission now but still has a lot of doctor appointments. She relates, “My employer supported me through my cancer. I couldn’t ask for better support than what I have found through my employer and co-workers.”
Sonya continues to be appreciative of the free SSA Ticket To Work Program. She said, “I believe if more people were educated about the Ticket to Work Program, more people would take advantage of it. My job counselor Ethel has my back. It gives me confidence to know that I have support!”
Sonya shows how strength from within and courage can help someone overcome challenges and work toward achieving their goals. Her journey is a true example of how work can be more than just a paycheck!