Disability Program Navigators and Return-to-Work

    • Anonymous
      May 25, 2008 at 11:57 pm

      As a Disability Program Navigator in California who assists people with congenital and acquired disease or disabilities that are transitioning onto various disability benefit programs: SSA Work incentive programs (i.e., Ticket-to-Work and PASS programs) that allow us to return to work part-time and retain SSA benefits, bring INHSS into the home and workplace to assist, or retain health insurance benefits while earning up to about $52,000.00 a year (for those who qualify). Many of us can return to work full-time eventually but may need to ease back into the workplace with accommodations, at least for a while. There are many programs that together provide a solid pathway back to employment, and several strong resources for these, follow.

      Additionally, I deal with the job protections assisting those who go off work for several months in understanding how benefits and job protections can help you retain employment, or if necessary, to be reassigned or retrained for re-entry around any residuals, especially during the first few months/years after recovery. Understanding how to navigate the benefits you purchase through employment insurance programs is very important.

      To find a Disability Program Navigator who can help you map out a pathway to employment: http://www.doleta.gov/disability/new_dpn_grants.cfm

      Map out your benefits on SSA and other programs while returning to work, seeking retraining, or other assistance: http://www.disabilitybenefits101.org/

      Reasonable Job Accommodations in the workplace per the Department of Labor’s expert recommendations: http://www.jan.wvu.edu/links/

      One-Stops around the country where you can receive services: http://www.servicelocator.org/

      For retraining and funding for work related assistive technology, or adaptive driving equipment, contact your local Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

      There are so many additional resources and these programs and pathways are so individually crafted for each of us. I just hope this raises awareness that there are people like us out here to assist with this employment transition, and with experience as a survivor of GBS/CDIP.

      Linda Schaedle, DPN

    • Anonymous
      May 28, 2008 at 10:05 pm

      My husband has been dignosed with diabetes, CIDP, high blood pressure, and other neuropathys. He has applied for disability and has been denied several times. He is in the hearing stage now. It has been 18 months now waiting on a hearing. His doctors don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten his disability, they state all the evidence is there. We have lost our home. We have an attorney, he state we have to wait on the hearing. What else could we do, and why would they not approve him with all the evidence.

    • Anonymous
      May 30, 2008 at 3:20 am

      Please reference Protection and Advocacy’s explanation of the four stages a review must pass through to meet the standard on disability: [url]http://www.napas.org/[/url] If your husband’s diagnosis isn’t on the list for automatic approval, then it does take time. Though having copies of all tests and documents, particularly if a hearing is in the works, can unravel the problem, it helps to quantify the activities of daily living, such as how many steps you can take before your rest, how long the rest must be before moving again, and how many times in a day you can do this, etc. All of your husband’s skills, knowledge and abilities might or might not allow him to work in some type of gainful activity, even if it isn’t the work he has been doing, according to the perspective of the reviewers.

      There are subsidized housing programs through HUD and local city programs that you might be qualified to apply for. Additionally, local discount utility programs through your service provider.

      Best wishes!


      Additionally, I’d encourage you to explore advocacy and other support options through your local Independent Living Center at [url]http://members.aol.com/graphking/natcil.htm[/url]

    • Anonymous
      October 2, 2008 at 7:40 pm

      I have a hard decision to go back to school and learn the office assistant.I believe I’m not the office type guy. since all my jobs were all physical and outdoors. I still can’t see myself behind a desk. And thats what I had explain to my vocational counselor. what should I do that I only can do so much now and I’m not very happy going as an office assistant certification but would like to earn a degree.

      gbs/survivor 2004

    • Anonymous
      October 3, 2008 at 1:26 am

      One approach to a vocational realignment is to conduct interest and skill assessments and then to superimpose this with the doctor’s short and long-term restrictions, and weigh-in on alternate ways for you to perform specific tasks using technology, reassigning tasks to other employees, and negotiating accommodations to work schedules, parking, travel schedules, and other dimensions (where reasonable).

      Assessments are available through college and university Disabled Student Services departments, Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation services, psychologists, OneStop Worksource Development Centers, and online through a Dept. of Labor Onet Online tool you can access free at online.onetcenter.org/ where you can conduct an assessment by self-identifying statements that are true of you, then search for occupations that match your experience, training, and interests.

      A large component of success is that you enjoy the type of work, the setting, the culture, pace, and tools or technology used to execute your role. Once you self identify the things about you that are true of you, you can then generate a list of matching occupations that you are suited for, sifting through them to eliminate the most physical positions, and identify whether any additional training is required to position you as a competitive candidate for that job. Focus on the In Demand jobs with green logos next to the list, as DOL data projects significant market growth and job opportunities over the next 10 years for that role and within that sector. By comparing these sectors, you will notice you will do almost the exact same thing in one sector and earn dollars and dollars an hour more doing it. Also, the technology, amount of desk or office time could vary considerably. By scrolling down to the bottom of the occupation you clicked on, you will see a drop-down menu where you can select the state you live and work in. By selecting your state for this profile, you will see what your skills are worth, and in many cases can watch a video of a worker performing the job, and these requirements are described in good detail. Can you imagine yourself performing these tasks and enjoying it? What are the things you might find difficult?

      Be aware that there is a lot of technology that can augment our endurance issues. This technology can be explored by contacting your local Dept. of Rehabilitation office to inquire about the nearest show room, or expert in your area to discuss your options with you. A physiatrist, occupational therapist, and/or a physical therapist will be helpful in helping you adapt the job to your physical needs.

      Another important component is the job accommodation options. For this information, check out the Dept. of Labor’s Job Accommodation website, which you can access online or via toll-free phone number, email an expert or speak live to get ideas on how to adapt your existing job successfully and reasonably, [url]http://www.dol.gov/odep/programs/job.htm[/url] .

      Also on this site is information about job protections, and how to play a game of chess to retain the job once you have it, especially if you must miss time from work to regenerate, or to attend medical appointments. Job sharing, flex schedules, working from home on occasion, work from home by creating your own business, returning part-time and then adding hours gradually as you settle back into employment again, are other options. You can look up the type of barrier by medical condition, and then read about how others solved this challenge in different settings and jobs. From this you can gain ideas on how to do the job differently but still get the job done. Are there physical tasks in the present chosen field that you can do differently with a tool or strategy, or if it’s not a core functional requirement, could this physical task be reassigned to another employee in the department?

      Generally, recovery from this group of disorders in the GBS family is slow so the limitations you might have the day you first return to work many not be limitations six months, a year, or two years following your return date. If you are an out-of-doors person, there are many alternatives to a desk job, and a portable stool or chair can be negotiated so you can sit down periodically. Through negotiation of accommodations a lot of us can return to work and then increase the hours slowly, thereby bridging our way back into successful employment.

      The use of a scooter, rearranging equipment you use at work and home at better reaching heights and distances, eliminating distances or excessive walking, getting assistance with dressing, bathing, grooming needs, simplifying this routine so you don’t wear yourself out before you get to work, helps. Clothes laid out at night, showering at night in coolish water, then awakening to dress in one location at a dressing station. Good nutrition, small meals stretched through the day (5) designed for simplicity, and balanced in nutrition helps, too. Taking a rest in a quiet place during the workday, negotiated onsite or executed in the back of your automobile, are other options.

      Best wishes with your new adventure. I hope this is useful information.

    • Anonymous
      October 3, 2008 at 6:55 pm

      This information will guide me to search a career that I will enjoy and to get adapted for accommodation on a job. 🙂

    • Anonymous
      June 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm

      The way this country has been run the past 8 years, and now, these little SS checks won’t be for long. Now, things really will get bad…no jobs, no unemployment checks, no SS, no SSI, no veterans checks and ect. With 40 million illegal Allians in this country and having babies and they are getting all the SS money, and the SSI. We should come here from Mexico illegal and then we would not have to wait 18 months and some 5 years to get SS. Linda, what will you do when you lose your job at SS ?
      Have a good day…or what is left of it. 🙁

      Drummer Dude