Chris had done exceptionally well for himself by the time he was 30 years old. He worked in Silicon Valley, making six figures and was educated, holding both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. His family was proud that he was making good money. In many ways, Chris was living the dream. Soon, however, his behavior began to change, so much so that even his co-workers and customers noticed. Out of fear of losing business, Chris’s employer let him go. Strange as it was, Chris didn’t see that he had a problem. Chris moved back to his hometown in the Midwest, convinced there was nothing wrong.
He couldn’t explain why, but he simply didn’t feel right. After seeking medical attention, Chris was quickly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He began interviewing again, but the job offers weren’t coming. Until one day, he got a call from a Silicon Valley company with a salary offer of $200,000 a year. Chris accepted the offer and moved back to California.
He was back in his element until, three weeks later, Chris was terminated again due to his behavior. While Chris had been diagnosed and provided with medication, he didn’t see the benefit of taking it. With this recent termination, however, plus his savings all but gone, the reality of his situation began to kick in. During one of his many stays at the hospital, he realized he must participate in his own recovery in order to rebuild his life. Chris took small jobs, at first, to boost his confidence, but things didn’t change overnight. His father suggested that Chris get on disability benefits, which he was able to do because of his bipolar disorder. While there were more hospitalizations and medication changes, the Social Security disability benefits allowed him to pay his bills and reset.
Chris began telling potential employers about his disability and his situation and asked for a second chance. In September 2016, that chance came. He was offered a position in Manhattan in cybersecurity, which is his area of expertise. This was also the same month Chris decided to assign his Ticket to Work to the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN). Chris worked at this position until 2019. When his employment suddenly ended, he immediately contacted his ADEN representative, Susan, with Maine Vocational Solutions. Though headquartered in Maine, many ADEN Members serve Participants virtually. Through frequent communication and in-depth knowledge of Social Security benefits, Susan coached Chris on how to get his benefits back while unemployed. Susan was also there to help Chris refocus on getting a new job. Two months later, he was hired by Microsoft and making more money than ever before. In addition, he also started teaching cybersecurity as an adjunct professor.
Eventually, Chris worked his way off of benefits, no longer depending on the monthly check. He recently completed the Ticket Program, becoming the 15th Participant to graduate with ADEN. Graduating the Ticket program means Chris worked his way off of Social Security benefits and maintained independence for three years.
The American Dream Employment Network is available to support other individuals, like Chris, who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Beneficiaries experience all different kinds of disabilities, barriers to work and job histories. The American Dream Employment Network works with each Participant individually to learn their needs and desires, while providing expertise about the job market, employment services and disability benefits. ADEN consists of 60+ service providers across the country. These professionals provide effective virtual services or in-person service. For more information on how you can assign your Ticket to Work to ADEN, please call 844-687-2336 or visit www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/ADEN. Employment service providers across the country are invited to discuss the possibility of serving individuals like Chris and becoming a Member of ADEN.
Maine Vocational Solutions is located in Portland, ME and specializes in serving individuals with physical disabilities and mental health diagnoses. They help individuals identify, develop and succeed in growth that provides the best job match for their skills, interests, abilities, etc. Maine Vocational Solutions has been an ADEN Member since 2018.