Employment Options

WEBINAR:  Free SSDI/SSI Employment Services–  June 20th – Reserve Your Spot! 

Verona Jacobs-Sams

Welcome and thank you for joining us today!

I promised to tell you more about how the Ticket to Work Program – My Employment Options (MEO) Style and my Employment Counselor changed my life. The Ticket to Work Program is an opportunity provided to test the waters for those who are receiving SSDI and/or SSI, after being diagnosed with a (dis)ability. SSDI and/or SSI are often the only source of income some can depend on, because of a life altering event.

For those who feel well enough, or maybe not so much, but are determined enough to try, the Ticket to Work Program provides a Trial Work Period for those on SSDI. It’s an opportunity to earn additional income that can make the difference between existing and living. It is a period of time that allows you to test the can I work again waters, before moving forward to the next phase of the program. Moving to the next phase of the program is a decision that you make, based on what works best for you. It’s a decision that I had to make…if I could or couldn’t work again; what that would look like for me…Part-time or Full-time…working from home or in the community…with or without accommodations. It was a lot, but you wouldn’t be reading this, if I hadn’t tried.

It wasn’t until I tried that I regained some self-confidence and started seeing my life differently. And to be very honest, I did not like my first job back after my disability. But I prayed for help to find something about it that would give me joy and so my focus changed from the back-to-back phone calls with seconds in between, to the fact that I was helping someone on the other end. I made a decision that I can now say, worked in my favor and I share it with my clients to this day. I decided to do what I had to do, until I could do what I wanted to do. I now do what I want to do, serving those who are walking a similar path that I walked before finding a job that makes space for me to fulfill my purpose; helping those we serve at MEO in a space that allows me to manage my (dis)ability so that I can continue to work.

Because I was also partnered with our Certified Benefits Specialist, as a client, I was equipped with what I needed to make an informed decision regarding how much or if I was able to work beyond the Trial Work Period. I was also surprised to find out about all the safety nets that have been put in place, as a part of the program, to protect some benefits and health insurance and restore others…I had no idea. It’s important enough to say it again…I was empowered to make an informed decision regarding working and my benefits, and what worked in my best interest.

There is so much misinformation floating around, which is why MEO provides information through our blog, website, social media and any straightforward or creative way we can imagine. We want you, or anyone connected to you, to have a reliable source for accurate information and answers to your questions. What I found here at MEO as a client, and what those we serve find, is support. Support through one, or even some, of the most difficult times of one’s life. It’s not just about finding a job that’s a good fit for your abilities, it’s about you, as a person, and how MEO can help!

Education is power and it can make a difference in how we live our lives. MEO educates us about possibility; the possibility of working again. It provides the tools needed to reimagine what life could look and feel like if you could just work again. It will allow you to make an informed decision, regarding whether the Ticket to Work Program is a good opportunity for you to test the ‘finding a job that’s a good fit for you’ waters. A job that’s a good fit is one that can be done while managing a (dis)ability and can also open a pathway to a better quality of life. I can speak to it…because I’m living it.

Can you imagine having worked as a Vocational Counselor and after some life happens, now you need one?! I have always had a heart for people who go through challenges in life, but I have to admit, as much empathy as I thought I had…as much as I thought I tried to understand what my clients were going through, prior to my (dis)ability…I was way off the mark. Some things you just can’t understand, at its core, unless you’ve walked that walk. We always appreciate when someone tries to understand, though. At least they are trying. They have a heart.

My previous experience as a Vocational Counselor taught me that things can happen in a heartbeat and alter the path we are on. The same empathy that I had given, I received when I needed an Employment Counselor (EC). My Employment Counselor was a part of what I called my 3-legged team.  My EC, myself and our Certified Benefits Specialist. They were there to help me every step of the way with preparing for re-entry into the workforce. My Employment Counselor helped me navigate my way through work life situations and the waters of requesting an accommodation. This was a game changer in my ability to work Full-time, with a split shift, on a previous job. She also made sure that I never gave up on my dream. She advocated for me for a year and a half, to do what I am doing right now, as an Employment Counselor. She is forever a part of my story because she saw my abilities and didn’t give up, even when I was tired. Lol I am doing work that I am very passionate about, and I will always be grateful to my EC for making sure I had the opportunity to become an EC again as well.

The MEO Employment Counselors get it, they know it’s not easy. But at the same time, they will be able to see something in you that may be a blind spot for you. They are encouragement, with some press or push on one side and complete and total understanding, on the other side. They meet you where you are and can encourage you beyond what you see. In blogs to come, we will go through the Scope and Continuum of Services you can expect from the MEO Employment Counselors  and we will also explore the responsibilities of our clients…it’s a partnership, we work together. 

Now, in order to understand all there is to understand about the Ticket to Work Program, you need a specialist and so, as a part of the MEO 3-legged team, I had my own Certified Benefits Specialist or The ‘Benefits Guru’, as I call her. She is an invaluable resource, available to answer your questions and help you navigate through all things associated with your SSA Benefits and how it all works with your efforts to work again. Her assistance is immeasurable. I am speaking from both sides of the table, as a client and a co-worker. She completes our tripod, a critical piece for a solid and informed foundation as you journey back into the working world.

Thanks for joining us, again! If this is your first visit to our blog site, please feel free to revisit previous blogs and we invite you to come back and visit as we continue our journey into overcoming the obstacles necessary to reenter the working world…until next time… 

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disability employment