By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Social Security Disability benefits don’t necessarily end when a person goes back to work.
That’s one message in an upcoming beneficiary outreach event that will explain the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program, which assists people who receive Social Security Disability benefits as they try to return to the workforce.
Locally, the OneWorkSource office is an employment network that works with the Social Security Administration to provide free Ticket to Work support. There are three local disability resource coordinators at OneWorkSource centers — Chelsea Scheefer in Plattsburgh, Melissa Barcomb in Malone and Thomas Pooler in Elizabethtown.
“I like to help people think about their ability, to think about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do,” Scheefer said.
She said the process starts with a Benefit Planning Query, which is an in-depth look at an individual’s story.
It can be scary for people to start back to work for fear it will put their benefits at risk, Scheefer said.
In part, that can be because the process of getting those benefits is long and difficult, and a person who wants to return to work may fear what might happen should his or her effort not prove successful.
By meeting with a disability resource coordinator, a person can determine if it is possible to become financially independent or how a return to work would affect benefit payments.
In some instances, they can continue to receive benefits even as they work. Each person’s story can be very complex, with many layers, so the intensive support the disability resource coordinator can provide can be crucial.
Barcomb said part of their mandate is to continue to provide support for participants for at least five years.
“The bottom line is to find success for that person,” she said.
The disability resource coordinators can also provide assistance such as career counseling, job search assistance, help with resume writing and interview skills, referral to community resources and Social Security Disability Insurance advisement. The coordinators can even interact with employers to help them work with employees who participate in the program.
Barcomb said that individuals with disabilities who are willing to help themselves will find there are plenty of people willing to help them.
Scheefer said she thinks the region is open and accepting of those with disabilities.
“The first step is to represent yourself,” she said.
Anyone between 18 and 64 who receives Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income because of a disability is eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program.
It is also available through Behavioral Health Services North and Access VR (formerly VESID). Scheefer said they can refer people to one of the other agencies if that seems a better fit.
Email Dan Heath: firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
The Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work program will be explained at a free beneficiary outreach event set for 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 28, at OneWorkSource, 194 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh.
For more information, call Chelsea Scheefer at 561-0430, Ext. 3032. Additional information is also available at http://tinyurl.com/aw447mu.