Vinnie wanted to improve both his financial and emotional well-being and that’s when he began thinking about returning to work. He used the Ticket to Work program, which provides free employment support services for Social Security Disability beneficiaries, to find a unique career.
In 2018, Vinnie assigned his Ticket to Maine Vocational Solutions, a Member of the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN). Though Vinnie was already employed, increasing caregiving demands related to his wife’s declining health began to interfere. Supporting her would impact his job, leaving him torn between caring for his wife and returning to work. It was clear that she would require increased care for performing her daily life activities and the couple both desired to remain living at home for as long as possible.
With help from Susan Gaudet of Maine Vocational Solutions, they discussed the possibilities of attendant services. Due to Vinnie’s need to remain home to care for his wife, he was already performing all the essential duties of a home attendant. Getting paid was a natural progression. Susan knew this was an option, as she had worked with others in the past to coordinate pay for caring for a loved one. Susan discussed this option with Vinnie and provided him with the information on how to proceed.
As a paid attendant for his wife, Vinnie was able to combine his two priorities: caring for his wife and increasing his income. Vinnie reached his goal of financial self-sufficiency in 2019 when he stopped receiving his cash benefit from Social Security. Due to Susan’s expertise on Social Security’s work incentives, she was able to advise Vinnie on how working would impact his benefits. Benefits advisement allowed Vinnie peace of mind knowing which incentive would occur and, when his SSA check ended, it wasn’t a surprise.
More than achieving his financial goals, Vinnie’s emotional well-being also greatly improved. Before he went back to work, Vinnie said, “I had no self-esteem at all.” Now that he is working again and caring for his wife, Vinnie stated he “feels better about [himself].” Vinnie’s improved self-esteem and excitement for life led him back to his lifetime appreciation of music. Now he sings, plays his guitar and piano and is also working on a new album.
To others receiving disability benefits, and who are considering going back to work, Vinnie says “If you can do it, go for it!” We encourage you to “go for it” by finding an ADEN Member near you.