NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the holidays approach, it can be a difficult time financially for many people who are unemployed and looking for work, especially those with disabilities.
However, the number of success stories in Tennessee is growing, according to recent data.
Brad Henson, of Knoxville, will celebrate his five-year anniversary of working as a peer-support specialist next spring – a job he said he landed with the help of the Benefits to Work program.
“It gives me extreme self-confidence and higher levels of self-esteem,” Henson said. “It makes me feel like I’m part of society, and I’m not on the fringe of society because I have a diagnosed mental illness.”
The Benefits to Work program is a free service provided by the Tennessee Disability Coalition. For those who rely on regular health care, Henson said, the incentives for employment that have minimal impacts on benefits are key.
“If they went to work not knowing about this service when they went into their job, they could lose their disability income,” Henson said. “Then say, for example, they got sick again or had a relapse, then they would not have their disability to fall back onto, and it would be just a whole big mess.”
According to the Tennessee Disability Coalition, one million people who live in Tennessee are coping with disabilities and, on average, they are more likely to be unemployed and in poverty.
More information on the Benefits to Work program is available online at www.tndisability.org.