Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Thinking About Work

Explore a stage of Thinking About Work, or look below for our frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if people are telling me that I’m not ready to work?

Readiness is an interesting thing. Most people think of readiness as being “able” to work. And many people think that we can tell when another person is “ready.” However, readiness in many ways is about your willingness, hope, and motivation. Your ability to work is something you can develop as you go along: as you choose the job, work on getting the job, even on the job. And employment and vocational counselors may be able to help you learn the skills you need to be successful at the job (see Keeping).

If you feel ready, and your supporters don’t think you’re ready, consider how important those perspectives are to you. Consider why you are hearing those perspectives: is to protect you? Doubt you? Additionally, think about what kind of support you want from your supporters. Would they support you to try out a step toward work? Can they help you work with a vocational counselor who can work with you and them toward choosing the right job?

What happens to my benefits if I work?

Benefits are sometimes complicated to understand, but there is good news about benefits and work. According to the Social Security Administration’s Red Book, the Social Security Work Incentives are policies and services that act as employment supports for people with disabilities. The Red Book is one way to find rules the SSA uses when they make their decisions. People fear that their eligibility for benefits ends when they work. Yet, most people who work part-time are able to keep benefits for long periods of time.

Other websites and resources about benefits:

Can work improve my financial situation?

Yes! In most cases, working even part-time can improve your work situation, even if you’re on benefits. Money is not the only reason that people work, for example, some people work to be busy, to be around people and make friends, some people work to add something to their communities or “give back,” and some people see work as a spiritual practice.

Though there are many reasons to work, for most of us, the money is a good reason to get out and work. A salary or paycheck can help us to pay our bills, have more money to do the things we love, go out on dates or with friends, even get a treat now and then.

If you have benefits, you may want to look at the question above, “What happens to my benefits if I work?”

How can I try out work to see if work is right for me?

If we haven’t had any work experience, or a little, or if we haven’t worked in a long time, then we may start to wonder if work is the right thing for us. One of the best ways to decide if work is for you to try it out a few times.  Actually doing work, and trying it out a few times, may be the best way to learn if working is right for you.

Try out work by:

Getting Jobs: Getting actual jobs is one of the best ways to see if work is for you. You can get paid and it is the closest to the experience you’re trying to assess for yourself. Working is the best way to decide if you want to work.

Job Shadowing: “Shadowing” someone is observing, or watching, someone do work to see what they do on the job.  Some jobs may be easier to shadow than others, and vocational counselors may be able to help you set up a job shadow experience if you want to try it.

Volunteering: Though volunteering doesn’t pay you money, when you volunteer your time, energy, and skill to an organization, you get “paid” with experience. This is a chance to see if you like working and you may get a job reference for future job applications.

Transitional Employment: Some employment programs, such as ICCD Clubhouses, can offer short-term job experiences.

Internships and Apprenticeships: Some school programs offer internships as part of the training. Apprenticeships may be offered by vocational training programs. If you are in a training or educational program, talk to the instructors or career counselors about the possibilities of intern/externships and apprenticeships.