Roy

When Roy finished college, he applied for several jobs andRoy's MA and Medicare continued along with his employer's health coverage. was offered a position working for a medical device manufacturer as a mechanical engineer. Roy accepted that he would lose his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment, but was concerned about losing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medical Assistance (MA). That's when he realized he needed to Chat with a Hub expert about how work would affect his benefits.

The health insurance Roy's employer offers does not cover all the services he needs due to his spinal cord injury, including daily Personal Care Assistance (PCA), medical supplies, and specialized equipment. "There would be absolutely no way I could survive financially, or physically for that matter, without MA."

The benefits expert Roy spoke with informed him about the SSI 1619(b) and MA-EPD options for keeping MA services that his employer's health plan doesn't cover. A Benefits Analysis also showed Roy how to use his SSDI Trial Work Period to test his ability to do the job before making the commitment to move off of SSDI.

Roy has worked as an engineer for 2 years and has given up all of his cash benefits. His employer's insurance pays for many of his health care expenses, which reduces the costs to MA and Medicare. Roy's job is going well and he recently purchased his own home in St. Paul.

Luke

"I look forward to coming to work every day."Luke is from Iasi, Romania and is deaf. He became deaf at the age of one when he was badly sunburned and received an injection as part of the treatment. He went home with his mother after the treatment. Doctors suspected Luke's hearing loss was caused by the injection.

After living in France for a while, Luke attended art school in London. Then he moved to the United States.

Luke got help finding a job from Vocational Rehabilitation (a division of Minnesota Rehabilitation Services) and the Minnesota Employment Center.

He called about a job opening at Home Depot and he was eventually hired as part of the Deaf2Work program. The Deaf2Work program helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing apply for jobs at Home Depot. Luke went through two days of training. An interpreter helped him with the computer training and he now works as a Receiving Associate. He tracks when products come in, the amount of each product received, and then puts the product in the correct area. He was relieved to get this job after being turned down several times. Luke has been at Home Depot since March 2006.

Luke likes his job, "The people are nice and there is variety in what I do. I look forward to coming to work every day."

Nicole

Nicole's internship prepared her for a rewarding job.Nicole participated in the Resource Room Internship program at the Duluth WorkForce Center from June 2007 to March 2008. The Resource Room Internship program is designed to give students work experience to prepare them for entering the workforce.

Nicole utilized the resources available to her while doing her internship. "I networked, took the job search classes, and tweaked my resume, trying different keywords on various job search sites to see which words gave me the most hits in the areas I was searching."

Nicole didn't finish her internship because she found employment at an intensive residential treatment service for dually diagnosed women with mental illness and chemical dependency. "It's where my heart is,” she says.

To people with disabilities who are looking for work Nicole says, "Don't give up! Go to the WorkForce Center and use the resources there. They have lots to offer and jobs may come your way if you know what's available to you."

Reflecting back on her time at the WorkForce Center, Nicole says, "I'm very grateful for having had the experience!"

Nicole says her activities at the WorkForce Center really paid off. Her Rehabilitation Services counselor helped her identify her strengths. "I developed a curriculum for www.minnesotaworks.net, an online website for job seekers and employers through the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and had a lot of room to grow while I was working at the WorkForce Center."

Yoonis

The Minnesota Employment Center (MEC) helped Yoonis find a job at Home Depot.Yoonis lived in Somalia until he was 16. He didn't have any formal education until he came to America. A teacher at Lakeville High School felt Yoonis could benefit from some job experience, and contacted staff from the Minnesota Employment Center (MEC) who helped him get a job at McDonald's, where he worked for almost three years.

Seeking better pay, Yoonis reconnected with staff from MEC, and through them, he found a job opportunity through the Deaf2Work program at Home Depot.

Based on a model program from Georgia, the Deaf2Work program facilitates the adaptation of hiring procedures to enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to apply for jobs at Home Depot.

Yoonis took the test for Home Depot and passed it. He was hired and began training there.

"Life is good. I have friends, I like working here. The manager and employees are wonderful; they have work incentives for good performance," reports Yoonis.

When asked what advice he would give other people with disabilities who are looking for work, Yoonis says, "I would tell them to visit a Rehabilitation Services office and be hooked up with MEC."

Allie

"Don't let SSI slow you down!"Allie has Cerebral Palsy. Even as a child she was very independent. She always knew she wanted to be on her own when she grew up. During high school Allie worked part-time at a fast food restaurant. After graduation she really wanted to find a better job and move out of her parents' house, but she didn’t know what would happen to her Social Security and her health coverage if she earned too much money.

She spoke to her vocational rehabilitation counselor who talked to her about health care programs like 1619(b) and Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) that would allow her to keep her Medical Assistance (MA), even if she earned more money. Together they also figured out how much money she would need to make to be able to afford her own place. Eventually, Allie found a full-time job as a reservation agent for a large airline.

After 10 months, Allie was able to afford an apartment of her own. Today, she has worked her way off of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and has started saving for her future. Allie is thrilled to be off public benefits and in her own home.

Allie says her goal in sharing her story is "to let others know they shouldn’t be discouraged from working. Don't let SSI slow you down!"

Crystal

Crystal used a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) to save for a modified van.When Crystal was working her way through school at the University of Minnesota, she used a Social Security work incentive called "Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)" to save for a modified van. Crystal has Muscular Dystrophy and is a wheelchair user.

When Crystal finished college, she gained work experience in the AmeriCorps program. Soon, she got a job offer.

After a few phone calls with benefits counselors and some research into her situation, Crystal figured out that her Trial Work Period had ended. But she still had a few months of her Extended Period of Eligibility remaining. Crystal had a safety net and time to make an informed decision about accepting the job.

Crystal was eligible for the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program and this covered her personal care assistance services and gave her health care coverage. She is now a full-time high school math teacher.