Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by pastorwife, Jun 4, 2011.
Has anyone used the "Ticket to Work" program?
My first question was, "How much can I earn w/o losing my SSDI (in case I find I am unable to work)? It's my understanding that you can earn around $1,000/month indefinitely w/o any effect on your benefits. There are trial work periods; I think you are allowed 3.
I'm assuming you are on SSDI. Start with the SSA website. They instruct you on how to proceed. I was referred to an (independently contracted) agency counselor who met with me @ a local SSA office. You might get referred to Vocational Rehabilitation, or for FCA (functional capabilities assessment). They will tell you about seeking employment through local employment networks (in my area the UE rate is double digit, the jobs were few and far between, and not quite the type of employment I was seeking so that didn't work out for me). My counselor told me that with my background I should consider starting my own employment network.
What is an employment network? For example, Walgreen's are their own employment network. They hire and train unskilled workers, and as part of the program, they are reimbursed several dollars/hour per employee for providing job training. It's a win/win.
As I recall, you are also applying for MS programs in counseling. I too am in that process; I'd like to become a geriatric care manager. I'm still udecided about the cost:benefit of investing the time and energy in such an endeavor at this point in my life (I'm 50). After caring for my parents until their death, I know this is the field for me.
Please post and let us know how your experience with Ticket to Work goes for you. Hopefully you will have more conclusive results than I did. I felt like it didn't go full-circle; I got about 85% through the cycle, then left by the wayside. I wish you better luck than I had. Good luck.
The person running the program here was totally lacking in skills. He did a resume for me that was so horrible that I wouldn't hire me myself if I received it. He did a lot of running around and making phone calls but never really did any work and for all his efforts, nothing ever came of it.
I found my own part-time job at the supermarket. I only wanted a job, not something with big responsibilities and I told him that. Because of my education and experience, he kept trying to find executive jobs for me. He just didn't listen and he didn't "get it."
I hope this is an isolated situation and not the norm for the program.
Yes, I'm asking about the SSA Ticket To Work Program. Like ILoveGreen states, I lived in an area with double digit UE (and I"m 51). I moved to NJ for many reasons and the job opportunities are more plentiful. However, when I apply for jobs, those that call me for an interview cancel the interviews AFTER they thoroughly read my resume and see I haven't worked in "my field" for 10 years. They don't even care why. I show I was a full-time pastor's wife covering the gap. Plus I have volunteered as a patient advocate for 2 years thru the present. Just doesn't seem to matter.
I was told I can make $705 and still keep my SSDI without the TTW Program.
I have switched gears from an MA in Pastoral Counseling to an MS in Health Informatics. If I'm accepted, I don't start until Spring 2012 semester and it's all online. I can work on it when I feel up to it and nap if I need to, and no commute to school. I'm hoping the naps aren't necessary but this past 2 weeks I've had to nap every afternoon. I have difficulty with the stress of deadlines so plan on using the schooling as a measure of my ability to cope with that.
I had a phone conversation last year with a TTW counselor who advised me not to use the program as their goal is to keep you in the work force even if you find you can't do it. That's how they make their money. And, since the UE rate was so high, I wouldn't get a job worth losing SSDI/Medicare for. But, again, I've relocated and the job market/salaries is much more promising here.
I have gotten really forgetful this week too. I missed 2 routine appts (1 that's scheduled the same time each week) (1 that's scheduled every MWF, but at different times). Completely forgot even tho the first one I remembered in the morning. But come time for the appt, I was napping and had forgotten about it or I would have set an alarm.
pasorwife - Sorry, but I haven't posted in a while and I don't have time to search for a previous post where you had mentioned something about using a functional resume after not having been in the workforce after 10 years or so. I recently went to a seminar hosted by the director of the career center at the university I am getting my MSA at about getting a job in today's job market. I have been out of work for almost 2 years. There were some there who had been out as long or longer than you.
Anyway, he was adamantly against functional resumes, as are the vast majority of hr managers and etc. Add your volunteer work in as you would a paying job, you certainly have experience from it, or add a volunteer section.
If I can find my paperwork on this part of the seminar and some time, I will try to post more for you. I'm currently in over my head w/some stuff.
Good luck and soft hugs,
Thanks! I'll take up your suggestion, since the current resume isn't working. Didn't know that people hiring didn't like them. Probably because there is so much to read before you get to what you're truly looking for.
Thanks for the info. I'm thinking part-time is the best way to start, and to stay below the $700 maximum income level. Really scary if I have a relapse and can't work and have to fight to get the SSDI back.
Differences of opinion when it comes to resumes. There is a hybrid functional resume which combines the best of both. I used to be married to an HR exec. The most important thing with a resume is that it stand out and not be boring. Also, it shouldn't be long. There needs to be a lot of white space in the margins. It's better to use some bullets to highlight skills, as in a functional resume, at the top. You can fill in details below. Now, this is only my opinion but it is also the opinion of a lot of professionals. That said, however, there are a lot of professionals who disagree on how resumes out to be formatted. I say play around with several formats until you find one which does the best job of representing what you can do for an employer. Good luck.
My understanding of the TTW program is that as long as you keep your earnings under the limit (you said $700, I was told $1,000/mo) you can work indefinitely w/o risk of jeopardizing SSDI benefits. The TTW counselor said that's what most people do because they simply can't afford to live on their monthly benefit and can't earn enough without it. What a catch 22, eh?
After trying to take on a number of projects, planning and executing only to abort midstream due to lack of energy or flare, I have given myself permission to do nothing for awhile, hoping that with the right amount of self-nurturing I will know when I'm ready to take on a project I can see through to fruition. I'm thinking my first "project" might be a class, maybe an art class. a dance or scuba class, something to feed my mind, body, or soul.
I was told that if you stay below $720 per month, nothing is done. Once you go over $720, then they allow you 9 months of over $720 before you lose your SSDI & they don't have to be consecutive.
The other option is to go with the TTW program where you can make as much as you want, but since this proves you CAN work if you make more than $1000 per month, you'll end up losing your SSDI after the trial period. A trial period begins when you make over $720. The $1000 limit is where there is no impact on losing Medicare or getting a decrease in SSDI monthly payment.
There is a time period limit on the "make as much as you want" part. It is their primary goal (TTW counselor) to get you off of SSDI according to a TTW Counselor that I talked to (but 'I never heard it from him'...if you know what I mean). Basically, if you can make the $, you aren't disabled, and by working the TTW program, if you continue long enough on it, you just proved it for them - that you aren't really disabled. I can't imagine the hassle to try to disprove this once you've worked long enough at enough pay.
Thanks for clarifying the difference between making $700 and $1000/month. I've tried the trial work periods five times since I became disabled and have failed every time, no matter how underemployed I was nor how "easy" the job was. (I wound up getting fired for being sick too often, not being able to work overtime or be on call, etc.) My TTW counselor suggested I create my own employment network since I used to own/operate a business (as if I could be that reliable on a day-to-day basis anymore). I don't think the TTW counselor, nice as he was, has any idea how much time and energy it takes to be an independent thinker, business owner, overachiever. I have to say that he was very supportive and not at all condescending though. The most unfortunate result of my attempt at returning to work was that I was told I would probably be audited (for my SSDI) since I was overdue by almost 2 years, and by his accessing my file, it may have been red-flagged. It seems best to let sleeping dogs lie, in retrospect.
It was very confusing for me about the limitations but I got a very helpful woman from Soc Sec on the phone and kept asking questions until I understood it. I also had the problem of being "unreliable" due to absenteeism. In fact, the job I just started in Aug has been very patient with me. I only work 2 days a week (Mon/Thurs) but have yet to work more than 3 days in any 2 week period. I missed 4 days in a row (2 weeks) due to headaches (sinus infection and/or migraines). I've left most of my jobs because of the pressure they put on me to be at work when I shouldn't have even driven myself there. You just know when you're no longer wanted.
I had one boss tell me that they expected me to have fewer absences for the next year, during a yearly review. I told them, this is the body God gave me and I do the best I can. I have no control over my illnesses (at that time I was not diagnosed with FMS/CFS). I had doctor visits for every absence but that still didn't matter.
Then I thought I found the ideal job. As a benefit, there was unlimited sick time. My last annual review there my boss told me "well, it's not really unlimited". I got a 1% raise, while those I supervised got 3%. I knew it was time to find another job!
They don't understand that we get as fed up as they do over us being sick. We don't WANT to not be able to do things. They don't know what we would do or give up in order to function reliably day-to-day. It's like trying to tell a man what it's like to give birth. You just don't know until you've been there-done that.
You will lose your benefits. Usually health coverage also. It is a sham. Social Security does not even believe this program will work. Less than .5% ever use it. TTW is just a way for Social Security to remove your benefits. There are many on blogs that have had this experience.
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