Ticket to Work: The Road to Self-Sufficiency, fingers crossed.

Ben has a chance at a job. A real job. Minimum wage, yes, but for him to make it to a second interview, and then to a possible job offer for the summer…well, the tears I feel remind me that I hadn’t really even dared to dream this for him.  Ben hasn’t had a job in eight years, since he was twenty years old.

He is so excited – it’s the validation, the possibility he may be able to earn money, be useful, have something to say about his life other than “I live with roommates and do volunteer work” and – lately – “I go to school part-time”, a miracle in itself .  He is also facing, suddenly, questions like:

  • What will come up in a background check? Will the employer know about my hospitalizations and diagnosis?
  • Will I lose my SSDI? SSI? State help? Medicare? Medicaid?
  • What is a “Ticket to Work”, and do I have one?
  • Will I lose respect and the chance at this job if I reveal my diagnosis?

Practically, I was able to find answers by calling Ticket to Work, and by visiting the Social Security Work Website
The emotional questions are the ones that are more difficult to face
– but Ben is asking those questions, and setting his limits as to how much he wants to, or has to, reveal.  His dignity is so at stake; still, I’m amazed and proud at what he’s doing: calling his job coach himself, contacting other so-called “experts”, formulating exact answers to the questions that may come up.  He has more than risen to this occasion.  Again, the happy tears.

And the fears, which I am trying to ignore.

Will this be too much for Ben? Will he be able to get to work at 8:30 AM each day? Will the no-smoking rule cause problems for him, even though he says it is not an issue?  Will the stress cause a relapse? Shouldn’t he take a lesser, part-time position?

But these are Ben’s decisions, not mine,  All I can do is help with the research and share the information with him and his providers. Then let go. And have faith: faith that he can handle 32 hours of work each week, and still keep up with 6 college credits. And not break under the stress.

Nothing would make me – and Ben – happier.

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2 thoughts on “Ticket to Work: The Road to Self-Sufficiency, fingers crossed.

  1. I think it is awesome what you and Ben are doing to show the world that Ben has "A Beautiful Mind."

    As a Job Counselor and director of a Ticket to Work Employment Network, I have heard many similar questions and fears about going back to work and all the "what if's." My wife has a favorite say, "don't tell me what I can't do, tell what I can do", because people sometimes (most times) are so negative.

    Keep up the good work and tell Ben he or you can call me and pick my brain anytime. I am on the Ticket to Work website and my company is "Back to Work Services"

    Jeff Lilley
    Back to Work Services
    http://btwservices.com

  2. Jeff –
    Thanks so much for both your comment, and for the work you are doing to help families sort out the confusing maze of the world of benefits. Ben started work today, and it will be a shame if his paycheck is practically wiped out by the reduction in benefits. Social Security seems to have a gradual program in place, but as for SSI and State Housing supplements – well, the jury is out. Ben's work history when in crisis mode didn't add up to a lot of SSDI benefits, so the other sources are vital for his housing costs. Still – he seems more interested in the dignity of earning his own money – which I applaud. Of course, being able to afford to go to a movie once in a while would be nice too.
    thanks!
    Randye

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