Keeping a Job
What if my family member is “stuck” in a job and not moving forward?
The most common plateau that people with disabilities reach is the intersection of wages and benefits.They look at how much they can earn “without losing benefits” from their point of view. This ends up limiting the type of work, the number of hours and/or the amount of money they can earn. This is a strategy that many disabled people choose and it works for some.
But for others, they feel like they have “settled for” a certain lifestyle because they have to. In reality many of the “plateau” people COULD move on, doing more challenging work, earning more money but they have not done the math that takes everything into account including work incentives. They also are unlikely to get any support for moving closer to full time work. This is an area where more research is needed and better information is needed for the family and the person in recovery.
Help your family member keep in mind the principle of maximizing income and ensuring health benefits, not just keeping benefits. Many people are capable of having a career, meaningful work and a healthy lifestyle but they do not always get this message. The role of family members in these situations is to help with the research if the family member in recovery wants that support. This includes research on maximizing income, getting the right information, and finding resources that might support moving to more meaningful or more lucrative work.
In some cases family members enrich their understanding of psychiatric disabilities and of the psychiatric rehabilitation community through direct participation as providers or educators such as family recovery workers in Iowa (Lange), family-supported FACT team in Maine (McFarlane), Family-aided vocational rehabilitation for youth in the Netherlands (Gaal), family education (NAMI Family to Family program nationally) and others.