Working at Home in the Ticket to Work Program
Working at Home in the Ticket to Work Program

Categories: Benefits & Assistance Programs, Employment

A photo of Lisa Seeley.

By Guest Blogger Lisa Seeley, a Ticket to Work Program Participant

As I started down my own personal journey with the Ticket to Work program, I was very nervous and felt all alone. I had not worked in quite some time and was afraid to take that first step. Navigating the waters of which Employment Network (EN) to assign my ‘Ticket to Work’ to was overwhelming enough, but to even think about actually working again was quite terrifying.

I had been receiving Social Security disability benefits since 1997 and had not worked in 12 years. I felt “rusty” to say the least. Yes, I did do some babysitting for friends and family, but that was not the same as a “real job.” I was so ashamed to answer people when they asked me what I did for a living. I was tired of saying I was on disability and felt I wanted more in my life and more for my family. Relying on my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and my husband’s income for our family of four was tough. I had to cut a lot of corners and was not getting any extras for myself or my family. Even with couponing and stretching every penny, it was just not enough. I was tired of the constant financial worry.

In 2009, I finally took a deep breath and made the leap to return to work. I did a lot of research on the Internet and tried to figure out the best way to go about it. I researched work from home companies but ran into scam after scam. I looked into working out in the community, but with my social anxiety disorder that proved to be too much for me. Finally, after just about giving up on my dream, I found out about the free Ticket to Work program provided by the Social Security Administration. I researched what would happen to my disability and health benefits before deciding to go ahead and find an Employment Network who would help me locate suitable work. I was so thrilled to learn the program was free because I receive Social Security disability benefits!

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Individuals Living with HIV/AIDS Fight Back against Housing Discrimination
Individuals Living with HIV/AIDS Fight Back against Housing Discrimination

Categories: Housing

Photo of Bryan Greene

By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“Suddenly, there were no more one-bedroom apartments available,” says Keith, describing his experience searching for rental housing in New York City with a voucher for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Although brokers initially told Keith that apartments were available in his price range, they refused to rent to him once they found out that he received a subsidy from the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration.

Having a safe, stable place to call home is especially critical to persons with HIV/AIDS, for whom housing affects their access to healthcare and their ability to receive treatment. Yet Keith found that, after encountering refusal after refusal, his housing options were limited to substandard apartments, often unfinished and in no condition for a person to live.

Enough was enough. With the assistance of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit organization whose operations are partly funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Keith brought a lawsuit against one of New York City’s largest real estate rental brokers and a second company   ̶  and he won. In 2012, a judge ruled in favor of Keith and ordered the companies to pay damages and change their practices under a local law prohibiting discrimination based on source of income. By asserting his rights, Keith made a difference not only for himself, but for others who might have experienced similar discrimination.

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Consumer-Directed Personal Care as a Human Right
Consumer-Directed Personal Care as a Human Right

Categories: Benefits & Assistance Programs

A photo of Alice Wong.

By Guest Blogger Alice Wong, a Member of the National Council on Disability

I consider myself an Angry Asian American Disabled Woman, working hard every day, playing and enjoying life in San Francisco. Why so ‘angry,’ you ask? I guess part of it is the juxtaposition of the way I view myself and the way I seem on paper to society. My anger is a justified and constructive response to low expectations and stereotypes that I experienced from adults around me at an early age.

I have spinal muscular atrophy. This means I use a wheelchair and require almost total care for my activities of daily living. Recently, I turned 40, and my parents and I had a good laugh because the doctors told them I wouldn’t live past 18 when I was first diagnosed. While my disability is progressive and I rely on a Bi-Pap ventilator to help me breathe and a hospital bed to prevent bedsores, I am not an object of pity or an inspiration because I happen to have an active and full life.

One of the main reasons why I have a pretty, pretty, pretty amazing life as a person with a disability is my usage of consumer-directed personal care services. I use a program in California called In Home Supportive Services (IHSS).

IHSS is the largest program in the U.S. that provides consumer-directed personal care. About 453,417 low-income older adults and people with disabilities use IHSS to remain safe in their homes and participate in their communities. All IHSS consumers received an 8 percent reduction in their hours last year and are projected to lose another 7 percent starting in July 2014. Future cuts in hours and other proposed measures would hurt IHSS consumers, many who already struggle to meet their needs with their recently-reduced hours. The state’s proposed changes and cuts would also impact the 385,425 underpaid and undervalued home care providers who are inextricably linked to our well-being.

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