When an acquired disability left Michelle on benefits, she was unsure where her life was headed. She had been confident about her professional skills prior to her illness, but after leaving the workforce, it was unclear if she would need to develop new skills.

Michelle spent two years on benefits, focusing on her health and weighing the pros and cons of returning to the workforce. If she chose to return to work, she wasn’t sure if she would need to go back to school or train in a different field.

Michelle​Michelle was also worried about how a failed return to work could negatively affect her ability to receive Social Security benefits in the future. “I was concerned about losing benefits, but I was reassured by the VR counselors that when you are in Social Security disability, you can actually go back to work and you have a five-year period where, if it doesn’t work out, you can go right onto your benefits.

Her Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) team helped identify potential career choices, as well as the types of training those positions would require. They also created a back-up plan in case Michelle experienced a health flare-up that would require her to stop working and return to benefits.

One of her VR counselors connected with a local university and helped Michelle complete the registration process. As a student there, she was able to learn skills that positioned her to return to work.

Working with the VR counselor was amazing. It gave me direction, and I was able to manage what I needed to do every step of the way.

Michelle had always worked full-time up until acquiring her disability. She wanted a job with the flexibility to accommodate her unpredictable health issues, a job that built on her new job skills and past employment experience.

After VR provided benefits counseling and job placement and training services, Michelle was hired as a loan officer assistant at a mortgage company where she is a valued employee. As her supervisor said, “I found Michelle to be a very passionate person about helping people and putting forth that extra time and effort. She has a great appreciation just to be able to work and do what it is that she does.”

Michelle is happy to be working full-time once again. While her job is challenging at times, she enjoys the opportunity to meet and help people purchase their new homes.

I get up in the morning and I know that I have value…And when I go home at the end of the day, this gives me a sense of fulfillment.

Michelle is now able to enjoy a life that includes vacations, outings, and travel. Best of all, she has found new passions. “I did something that I hadn’t been able to do previously because of where I was at in my life…I was able to do a little bit of skydiving, which is now a newfound love and something I will continue to do.”


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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