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November 11 is one of our most important holidays. Politics aside, all our veterans deserve respect for the sacrifices they have made. At Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we want to thank all of you, especially if you are disabled. But we want to go a step further. Instead of pausing one day a year, we want to give the gift that keeps on giving.

Financially, disability benefits are an effective substitute for employment income. Emotionally, that’s not always the case. Regular employment fulfils some emotional benefits that a disability check cannot meet. For example, only about a quarter of mentally ill people are employed. So, there’s a correlation between economic activity and mental health. This means that there are a lot of folks with a mental impairment (like PTSD) who are left out of the workforce on a disability simply because they are not able to effectively carry out the job description. This connection is especially vital for disabled veterans who often deal with feelings of hopelessness or uselessness. 

To help disabled veterans tap into the emotional benefits of employment as a part of their recovery, the Social Security Administration has rolled out the Ticket to Work program for America’s Veterans. This assistance is available even during the coronavirus pandemic, which right now looks like it might go on for at least several more months to another year. A Heermans Law Firm, your SSI disability lawyer in Memphis and the greater Mid-South area, does more than just obtain financial benefits for disabled veterans. Their attorneys give disabled individuals the tools they need to improve their lives. Frequently, that means returning to work at some point in their steps to recovery and being more independent.

Step One: Ticket to Work

All journeys, from a trip to the refrigerator to a trip to the Moon, begin with curiosity about what’s on the other side. Many disabled veterans are curious about returning to work, but they are understandably cautious, afraid, and confused. After all, returning to work is a very big step. The Ticket to Work for America’s Veterans program takes away some of that fear and confusion. The rest is up to you.

Social Security disability benefits recipients between 18 and 64 are eligible for this free, optional program. The specific rules are a bit complex, and the Heermans SSA law firm will help you understand them better.

Normally, the SSA does not review program participants’ benefits awards. So, as you work toward independence, disability payments keep coming, no questions asked. It’s a bit like starting your own business while your old boss is still paying you. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are similarly unaffected. Finally, the Ticket to Work is not a one-way street. If people complete the program and find they are unable to work, disability payments resume. The resumption process is usually seamless.

As for medical care, once disabled individuals earn enough to halt their SSD benefits, Medicaid eligibility continues for at least ninety-three months (seven years). That’s a very large safety net. Furthermore, additional options might be available. For example, some states allow individuals to buy Medicaid plans. These options are usually much less expensive than private health insurance plans.

Participation in the Ticket to Work for America’s Veterans program usually suspends CDR (continuing disability review) evaluations. The SSA usually schedules CDRs about once every twelve months to determine the recipient’s current physical condition. Unless a CDR evaluation was already scheduled, the Ticket to Work program halts these reviews.

Finally, as for benefits renewal, people who start work are eligible for expedited reinstatement for up to five years. That means no reapplication. Additionally, as soon as you request reinstatement, the SSA pays temporary benefits for up to six months. These benefits do not have to be repaid if the SSA denies your reapplication.

Step Two: Ready to Work

Once disabled individuals decide the Ready to Work program is for them, it’s not quite time to start work quite yet. First, there’s some additional preparation to do.

Part of the goal setting process is self-reflective. What type of work do you like? Where do you want to work? What are your long-term employment goals? There’s also a practical element. Many times, these goals involve job training. Other people need to send their resume to potential employers. A few people might even have jobs waiting for them.

Choosing a provider is important as well. Most people need help landing jobs. The Ticket to Work for America’s Veterans program has partnered with employment networks and vocational rehabilitation agencies. ENs (employment networks) are a little more than information clearinghouses, but not much more. In addition to connecting people with potential employers, ENs offer support services and benefits advice services. VR (vocational rehabilitation) services are much more extensive. These agencies operate job training programs and help individuals with accommodations, like motorized scooters and prosthetic devices.

The SSA’s website’s Find Help tool connects disabled individuals with the EN or VR closest to them. Keep in mind that many of these providers have unlisted branch offices. Furthermore, especially in the coronavirus age, many of these providers offer remote assistance.

Location is not the only consideration. Not all providers are created equally. By design, some of them cater to certain individuals with certain needs. This fact sheet is a good place to start your search for a provider. After you find the right match, the provider and recipient create an individual work plan. Once the IWP (individual work plan)  is in place, the agency contacts the SSA and says you are ready to take the next step.

Step Three: Getting a Job

Many people probably were ready to skip Steps One and Two and go straight here. But that’s not the way it works.

Getting a job requires soft skills and hard skills. Job-seekers must know how to use LinkedIn and other social media sites to network with the right people. Basic social skills are important as well. If it’s been awhile since you have done these things, the Ticket to Work program provides ongoing support. Hard skills usually include how to act during an interview and some good ways to answer common questions. Community service projects are an excellent way to brush up on soft and hard skills. And, such service often looks good on your resume, which is the next step.

Your EN or VR provider usually offers resume writing assistance. In general, limit your resume to one page, highlight skills and experience which are relevant to the job, use lots of verbs and impeccable grammar. Best to take advantage of any available assistance in at least having your resume reviewed before you submit it to potential employers. As they say, two sets of eyes are better than one!

Also, be aware of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding workplace accommodations. In general, if you meet the minimum requirements, employers must furnish any tools you need to do the job, such as a certain kind of office chair. Of course, you don’t want to make demands during an interview. Just keep these things in mind when you are offered the job.

Above all, be patient. Most job-seekers can use their rejection letters as wallpaper. It doesn’t matter if you are a recent college graduate or returning to the workforce after a long absence. Just set realistic goals and keep working, good things will eventually happen.

The Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm is the SSI lawyer near you that will always support each and every veteran in their journey to recovery from a disability. To schedule a free disability evaluation consultation click here. We can be reached at (901) 244-0057

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