In 2006, Luciano found out that he was eligible to receive disability benefits. He accepted those benefits for two years. However, he realized that the financial assistance was hampering his ability to move forward professionally, so he found work at a local coffee shop for 20 hours a week and reduced the amount of benefits he received.
Having concerns about how his part-time work would affect his disability benefits, Luciano turned to vocational rehabilitation (VR). Working with a VR counselor, Luciano determined what he wanted in a job, as well as his goals and aspirations.
And with voc rehab, what they did was they tried to find a job suited for whatever I wanted. I could go much further if I got off SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance], so the potential of making more became more important to me.
Through VR, Luciano found a new job with better pay. He is now a sales associate for a furniture store in Maryland. His love of helping people led to a career in retail, where he creates a better shopping experience for the people who come into his store.
Luciano decided not to disclose his disability at his new job. However, that didn’t prevent him from benefiting from VR. Luciano meets with his VR counselor in the community, and together they work behind the scenes. His VR job coach, Tim, describes it by saying:
We talk about what is going right at work, what is not going so great at work. I am able to provide feedback about what is going on, setting goals with him.
Luciano has excelled at his position and taken on some leadership roles. He works hard in hopes of getting a managerial position. His success allowed him to get off SSDI benefits and to excel at other activities: he plays basketball and is an avid painter.
Glad to be off benefits, Luciano knows he has the opportunity to go back on them if needed. He’s happy working full-time, and finds it rewarding:
Now that I am living a life without cash benefits, I’m happy.
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The SGA Project is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education Grant # H235L100004