DISABILITY RIGHTS AND BENEFITS
- Do you need help accessing programs or services related to your disability?
- Are you trying to apply for veterans’ compensation or pension, social security disability (SSI or SSDI), or worker’s compensation?
- Do you need help advocating for your child or an adult with a disability to receive accommodations at school or a government entity?
- Are you someone who simply needs help trying to figure out where to start or what to do next because you or someone you know has a disability that needs help?
Trying to navigate everything that a person who experiences a visual impairment, including blindness, or a disability need is a challenging task that often leads to caregivers facing disciplinary action, losing their jobs or having to leave their jobs when a person close to them becomes severely disabled or they have a child who is born with a severe disability. Sometimes, it’s just too hard for the family to take on the challenge and the person with the severe disability is left to fend for themselves. Government programs and even non-profit organizations that are funded, in large part by government grants and supplemented by the generosity of others, often team up in processing the disability claims and then the “non-profits” also reap the benefits of anyone who is approved because of the other “services” that they provide. Now, many of these non-profit organizations do a good job and have advocates there to help with the claims and so forth, but they also have very high caseloads just like the government workers who are assigned to determine whether someone actually receives a positive disability rating decision. There is very little personal attention and that can lead to mistakes in the original decision-making and that extends the process, which results in more loss for the person with the disability.
THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE DISABILITY ARE DENIED DISABILITY BENEFITS AND ACCOMMODATIONS THE FIRST TIME
There are a number of different reasons why people who experience disabilities are denied benefits and accommodations the first time they make the request. But the laundry list of reasons isn’t important because we cannot fix them all, even if you as the person with a disability, your doctor, and I do everything with perfection. However, if you have a qualifying disability under the program or law that you are trying to receive an accommodation or modification, compensation, or disability income, your chances improve if you have someone to help you.
CONSULTATION FOR DISABILITY RIGHTS AND BENEFITS
One way that I assist people who experience disabilities, blindness, low-vision, deaf-blindness, deafness, and limited hearing to access their rights and benefits is through what is known as case management. Case management is a highly intensive, collaborative process between clients and when necessary, the person who has the ability to make decisions for him or her, and a qualified professional like me. The quality of case management can vary though, often because of problems with communication or the match between the person who needs case management and the person providing it isn’t the right fit. Some situations are also very complex and take longer to sort out, or some of the requests are simply not possible or realistic because of limitations under the law or some other reason that are beyond the person’s and the case manager’s control.
However, I have been very effective when I provide case management to clients who express that they have a desire to meet their goals because I use reflective listening skills to ensure that we understand each other and motivational interviewing to help them achieve their goals. My specialized expertise in areas related to disability, combined with other areas of expertise, also gives me an advantage that many case managers do not possess. So, I can also help you to understand what you can expect if you have a particular goal in mind without restricting your options. My approach to case management is to not just try to think “outside the box” when trying to solve a problem or find a solution for something that seems unworkable, rather I think of “a new box” entirely when needed.
An alternative service that may be more suitable for your needs is requesting my services as an expert witness or consultant, which is best suited if you intend to involve an attorney in your matter or if you already have an attorney involved. I cannot serve as an expert and as a case manager/counselor or psychotherapist, because that is unethical. However, if you already have an attorney involved, it does not mean that you cannot also have case management or psychotherapy services. I am just not able to act as an expert if you request my services in a different capacity.
ALTHOUGH YOU MAY SEE THE BENEFITS OF CASE MANAGEMENT, YOU MAY STILL HAVE SOME QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROCESS…
I don’t have a disability, but I need case management services for other things.
Generally speaking, I specialize in case management for people who experience vision impairments, including blindness, or disabilities. My approach to case management for people who do not experience disabilities is to also use it as needed in other services such as psychotherapy and alcohol/substance abuse counseling. For example, when I am providing psychotherapy as a licensed clinical social worker for adults who are in relationships where there is active domestic violence, case management comes up and includes topics such as safety planning, information and referral, and monitoring progress in these specific areas as well as the overall treatment plan as long as the person is in treatment. If a client who is receiving alcohol/substance abuse counseling mentions that they are having trouble with housing, I may refer them to a sober-living environment or social services programs, and they can continue treatment with me or find alternate services.
Case management is highly personalized because of the unique and specific needs of each person. My experience is vast, yet very specialized in areas that not very many people have had the kind of exposure or desire to work in all of these areas. My experience has helped me to develop a unique skill set to help you understand after an initial consultation what you’re up against, so that you can make an informed decision before you involve me further in whatever help you believe you need.
I am the parent or guardian of a child or adult with a disability. Do you work with children and adults with guardians or power of attorneys?
It depends. Generally speaking, I do not work with children or adults who are unable to make decisions on their own, such as by way of providing counseling or therapy services. In relationship to access to services and employment based on their disability, I may be able to help you and them, on your behalf, as the parent, legal guardian, or power of attorney or with your consent. You, as an adult parent who has a child with a disability or is the guardian or power of attorney of an adult with a disability, may contact me for a consultation per my office policies and fee schedule, but as to whether I will be involved in the same way that I would be for an adult with a disability who is able to make all of their own decisions and contacts me on their own, I determine that on a case-by-case basis. The same policy applies for ADA compliance.
I am a disabled veteran and need help getting my benefits.
I have more than twenty years of experience helping veterans navigate the VA and while I cannot make any guarantees and do not know your unique situation, I am willing to speak with you based upon my office polices and fee schedule for an initial consultation. Depending upon where you are at in the process and when/where you served, the type of discharge that you received, and other factors will make a difference in the advice that I provide you, particularly because the VA has recently announced some new extended presumptive eligibility rules. Read more about how I work with military and veterans.