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Employment Helps A Veteran Find Renewed Confidence and Independence

Charles is a Veteran of the US Marine Corps who sought out employment support from AHEDD back in September of 2017. He has a condition which causes him to feel “seasick’ all the time and quick movements could cause him to be dizzy and lose his balance. In addition, he has PTSD which presents symptoms of anxiety.

Charles feared he may never be successful in finding employment. He shared that his biggest barriers to obtaining employment had included his difficulty with quick movements, uncertainty about how to explain the gap in his employment, his self-doubt and increased stress surrounding unsuccessful applications, and his failed attempts to find jobs that were best matched to his abilities.

Since Charles received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) due to his disability, he qualified for funding under SSA’s Ticket To Work program. This funding from SSA allows AHEDD and other ENs to provide longer term supports that ensure an individual’s success. AHEDD has been an approved Employment Network (EN) for SSA since 2001 and fully embraces the goals of the Ticket Program to offer beneficiaries with disabilities the following:

  • Expanded choices when seeking service and supports to enter, re-enter and/or maintain employment;
  • Increased financial independence and self-sufficiency; and
  • Reduced or eliminated reliance on disability benefits.

After signing his goal plan with AHEDD, Charles quickly found that he was able to do more than he initially thought. Within a few weeks of beginning services with AHEDD, Charles landed a part time job as a Food Service Supervisor within a Prison and was eager and ready to find a full-time job within two months. In April of 2018, Charles secured a full-time job at Tredegar Film Products as a Plastic Extrusion Operator and began earning about $9 more per hour. This change in job increased his gross monthly earnings from $433.00 to $2,944.44.

As of May 2019, Charles is still working for Tredegar at an even higher hourly rate and is no longer receiving SSDI benefits. His co-workers have found him to be a hard working individual who does more than asked. He is always willing to assist. His supervisors have found him easy to work with, quick learning and very dependable. He reports that even his previous supervisor was sorry to see him leave and is interested in still having him work a few shifts.

Charles can perform all the essential functions of his position. The majority of support provided by AHEDD involved encouragement, preparing for the interview, leveraging an employer relationship in the community, and understanding how work was going to impact his SSDI benefits.

Charles comments to us say it best. He said, “After nine years of being on SSDI, I finally felt more in control of my disability and wanted to get back to the workforce. I looked online for agencies that help people with disabilities obtain employment and found the agency AHEDD. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I made an appointment and boy was I surprised. From the very first day I met my Employment Specialist (Debra Sinkovich), she made me feel everything but disabled and that anything was possible. She explained that having a disability was not about what I can’t do, but what it is that I can do. She was very understanding and supportive of my situation. She was also very knowledgeable and helped me look for positions that were within my capabilities. She also helped me with all the paperwork pertaining to the Ticket to Work Program and my responsibility to report my earnings. This experience has changed my life. I got back the quality of life and self-worth I so desperately needed. I’ve been back in the workforce for over four months and couldn’t be happier. I’ve made new friends, laugh a lot more and am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved. Thank you AHEDD for helping me to get my life back!”

Founded in 1977, AHEDD is a private, non-profit organization which serves the community as a catalyst in the employment and development of people with disabilities. Our vision is to be the premiere agent for creating innovative pathways to employment and greater independence for people with disabilities. Based in Camp Hill, PA, AHEDD has a network of field offices which delivers its employment services to youth and adults across much of Pennsylvania. Connect with us for additional information at www.ahedd.org, 866-902-4333, inforequest@ahedd.org, http://twitter.com/AHEDDATWORK , or www.facebook.com/AHEDDATWORK/.

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