• Quote of the Day
    "Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be,
    but to find out who we already are and become it."
    Steven Pressfield, posted by David Baxter

Daniel

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Rethinking Retraining

The most successful retraining programs, as measured by completion rates, incorporate “stackable” credentials. These are short-term, industry-recognized credentials offered by certificate or nondegree programs that allow workers to balance the demands of the training program with work or family responsibilities. This learning strategy focuses on building core capabilities and then layering on additional skills in steps. This can take the form of a series of short programs, each focused on a particular skill set, that can be taken sporadically over months or years. The beginning of the sequence is focused on an industry-recognized credential so students can find work quickly. Once they start working, they can return to school to pursue training at the next level. “I often compare what we do in community and technical colleges to a freeway,” explained Marshall “Sonny” White, the former president of Midlands Technical College, in Columbia, South Carolina. “You get on at a particular point, you’re on that freeway for a while, then you’re off, and then you’re back on again — because it’s all about lifelong learning.” ...

Older students in retraining programs often underestimate what they are capable of — a challenge that Rusty Justice encountered. He established Bit Source, a software development start-up, with the primary goal of retraining coal miners in his hometown of Pikeville, Kentucky, in the heart of Appalachia. He ran an ad to attract miners displaced by the industry’s contraction, and in less than two weeks, 950 applications had poured in. After narrowing the pool to 60 applicants, Rusty and his cofounder selected the final 11. On the first day of work, one of the new hires didn’t show up. When Rusty called him, the man explained, “I’m just a dumb old coal miner. I can’t do this. I can’t be a computer coder.”

“If he can’t believe he can do it, he certainly can’t do it,” Rusty said. “So the first takeaway is you’ve got to convince people to do it while you’re training them to do it. So we started what we call ‘reimagination training.’ And it was just thinking about how we think about ourselves.”
 

Larry

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My Ticket to Work provider called me today to touch base. With the Ticket to Work program, you can stay in the program for up to 5 years. And then you can renew enrollment if you wish.

Hi Daniel, did you leave the ticket to work program at the 5 year mark or sometimes after 5 years? I'm approaching my 5 year mark, so I'm curious about what to expect. Thanks!
 

Daniel

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When I emailed them last, they said the program is actually indefinite -- as long as I still have unclaimed/unused bonuses (and keep answering their calls/emails, I guess). I have them as a contact in my phone so I answer them when they call, which is just once or twice a year.
 
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Daniel

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No, as my "earned income" is not above SGA ($1350/month). The Ticket to Work program I am with (TakeCharge) doesn't care about anything below SGA. Neither does my local Social Security office. (Years ago, I used to fax the local Social Security office about every two or three months with every paystub since I reported last. Then one day they wrote me and said anything below SGA does not need to be reported.)

The bonuses now anyway from TakeCharge would be "Taco Bell" money ($200 a month) compared to the amazing "Red Lobster" money it was in the beginning (similar to the attached PDF), especially since the initial bonuses were in addition to SSDI for a while. Under the Ticket to Work program, I was able to keep my SSDI for like the first eight or nine months, in actuality, while working full time.

After three years of working full time (with overtime almost every week) at a group home company, I was burning out and cut back on my hours. Eventually, I got a different human services job. But I burned out there too -- within weeks -- as my OCD was back in full, "paralyzed" by fear of harming others, etc. So I used expedited reinstatement to go back on SSDI (which I am still on).

Since going back on SSDI after burning out / relapsing, I did work below SGA for at least a couple years, but I stopped working completely in January since the interpersonal stress wasn't worth it. I plan to work with computers more than people from now on. For well over the last year, I am still trying to finish a master's thesis, which has become more like a PhD disseration. So I am essentially a "professional student" still, and the financial aid does not affect SSDI.

On the extremely positive side, the Ticket to Work program gave me the motivation to keep working much more than I would have, and that experience will make it easier to go back to working full time (though preferably working at home). Also, having worked those few years at a decent salary (because of overtime) and even by earning below SGA after that, my current SSDI is now up to almost the average Social Security retirement amount, which is $1657/month. (So by the time I hit retirement age and get the "regular" retirement Social Security, I will receive an above-average retirement amount. Though Social Security amounts can barely pay for rent in some areas of the country, my generous, well-off parents bought all my housing until I got married, and my husband already owned his own home.)
 

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Larry

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No, as my "earned income" is not above SGA ($1350/month). The Ticket to Work program I am with (TakeCharge) doesn't care about anything below SGA. Neither does my local Social Security office. (Years ago, I used to fax the local Social Security office about every two or three months with every paystub since I reported last. Then one day they wrote me and said anything below SGA does not need to be reported.)

The bonuses now anyway from TakeCharge would be "Taco Bell" money ($200 a month) compared to the amazing "Red Lobster" money it was in the beginning (similar to the attached PDF), especially since the initial bonuses were in addition to SSDI for a while. Under the Ticket to Work program, I was able to keep my SSDI for like the first eight or nine months, in actuality, while working full time.

After three years of working full time (with overtime almost every week) at a group home company, I was burning out and cut back on my hours. Eventually, I got a different human services job. But I burned out there too -- within weeks -- as my OCD was back in full, "paralyzed" by fear of harming others, etc. So I used expedited reinstatement to go back on SSDI (which I am still on).

Since going back on SSDI after burning out / relapsing, I did work below SGA for at least a couple years, but I stopped working completely in January since the interpersonal stress wasn't worth it. I plan to work with computers more than people from now on. For well over the last year, I am still trying to finish a master's thesis, which has become more like a PhD disseration. So I am essentially a "professional student" still, and the financial aid does not affect SSDI.

On the extremely positive side, the Ticket to Work program gave me the motivation to keep working much more than I would have, and that experience will make it easier to go back to working full time (though preferably working at home). Also, having worked those few years at a decent salary (because of overtime) and even by earning below SGA after that, my current SSDI is now up to almost the average Social Security retirement amount, which is $1657/month. (So by the time I hit retirement age and get the "regular" retirement Social Security, I will receive an above-average retirement amount. Though Social Security amounts can barely pay for rent in some areas of the country, my generous, well-off parents bought all my housing until I got married, and my husband already owned his own home.)

Did you have to go through a medical review when you applied for the expedited reinstatement?

Thanks so much. Your information is really helpful.
 

Daniel

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Did you have to go through a medical review when you applied for the expedited reinstatement?
Yes. I called SSA for the reinstatement. And then they said I would get my SSDI reinstated on a certain date (in a month or so rather than immediately because of some rule they have). So I got at least one or two SSDI payments before they completed their medical review.

The review was just on paper, and it seems everyone is given the benefit of the doubt. In other words, the review may be just a formality in most cases. From what I remember, they did want medical releases. But I had been seeing a psychologist more and more often as I was having more problems at work.

Of course, I had to fill out some paperwork for the review. But there were no forms for any medical professionals to fill out. They did not require me to be evaluated by one of their psychologists.
 
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Daniel

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Employment networks like Allsup Employment Services can help people with disabilities identify self-employment opportunities and get back to work on their own terms by reviewing prior work experiences for applicable skills in other industries, evaluating someone’s motivation and training, and coordinating their self-employment effort with the benefits and incentives of the Ticket to Work program.
 

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With the people I help return to work, I find those with anxiety disorders may struggle to be around people in the work environment all day. They might need to limit their face-to-face interactions to avoid a triggering or upsetting situation. In these cases, I guide them toward a more independent job or coach them on how to request a remote work setup.

I direct those I counsel toward the Social Security Administration’s free Ticket to Work program. It’s designed to help individuals who reach medical recovery to begin their return to work while protecting their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

I also guide job candidates on how to showcase their unique talents and skillsets to employers. It’s vital to show how hiring people with disabilities creates a more inclusive work environment, filled with different perspectives and strong work records, usually with many years of experience. In fact, SSDI recipients have on average 22 years of prior work experience.

I have worked with people who have all sorts of disabilities, physical and mental, including people who need treatments on a daily basis. Many individuals with mental illness thrive at work...
 

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The Medicaid buy-in program for working people with disabilities is an option authorized under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act that allows working individuals with disabilities whose income and/or assets exceed the limits for other eligibility pathways to "buy-in" to Medicaid coverage. This option provides people with disabilities the opportunity to work and access the health care services and supports they need, without having to choose between working and qualifying for Medicaid.
 

Daniel

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Without the Ticket to Work program:


I can work because I’ve found some solutions to limit my countable income, and I have a safety net in the form of a supportive family. Getting to this point involved a combination of emotional trauma and hard work. It’s been worth it, but I can see the lines on my face getting deeper as I go through each day with worry always at the back of my mind. I dread checking my mailbox and my stomach churns every time I receive something from Social Security or Medicaid. Will this be the day it all goes wrong? Will I have to live with this fear for the rest of my working life? I encourage every person with a disability who can work to go for it, but I also know it’s so much harder than it should be.
 
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