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Becky's Story
Becky dreamed of a real job for a long time; so long that a person with less determination would have given up. But, not Becky. She wanted a job that paid real wages and where she would be with all types of people rather than just those with disabilities.

She began working in a sheltered workshop after high school hoping that it would help her gain work skills so that she could get her dream job. But after 23 years, she knew that she wasn't on the right path. She quit the sheltered workshop and began volunteering at a local nursing home. She increased her work with People First, a self-advocacy organization and found that she was a good leader and able to help others. She never missed an opportunity to participate in conferences or training programs that would not only help her build skills but also let others know that she really wanted to work. When the early version of the ticket-to-work program known as Medical Assistance for the Working Disabled or MAWD was initiated, she began a more earnest search and was allowed to work a few hours assisting her husband with janitorial duties at a church where he worked. When the MAWD program was terminated, Becky had to quit this very limited work as it was having a negative impact on her benefits. She continued to look for work where she could use the Social Security Ticket to Work program.

Becky's determination finally paid off. The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council desperately needed someone a few hours a month to assist them in answering the telephone and keeping the office open and running when all of their staff was out of the office. The Executive Director approached Becky tentatively knowing that the hours were limited and irregular and that Becky would have to do some major investigation into how this would affect her other benefits.

Of course, Becky jumped at the opportunity. She and her husband agreed that they would figure out the benefits piece no matter what the affect because it was Becky's first real chance to recognize her lifelong ambition. Becky worked with staff from the Council and Missouri HealthNet, her Case Manager and others to assess the financial impact on her benefits. They also investigated whether some of the Social Security work incentives would be beneficial for her.

The Council's experience in working with Becky helped inspire them to support the development of an online Disability Benefits Calculator (DB101) system that would assist people with disabilities calculate the affect of work on their Social Security benefits and learn about available programs that could help them protect benefits that they needed to live in the community. This is now a free on-line resource that is available at http://mo.db101.org/

Becky worked closely with the Council staff assigned to train her to master a very complex telephone system as well as the Council's computer system and copy machine. The Council made some minor adaptations to the office building and brought in some low-tech devices to assist Becky in accessing the building and office door lock. The Council staff adapted their safety plans for possible disasters such as tornadoes, fire and personnel threat and reviewed these with Becky and those who would be the best option for assisting her should the need arise.

The first day of work was a very proud day for Becky but it was also a really special day for all of those who were determined to figure it out and help Becky reach her employment goals. She has been courageous in getting over the challenges that come up in any job, but now, with the right supports in place, Becky's hopes have finally been recognized. She has been so successful that the Council increased her hours and the Division of Developmental Disabilities asked her to work for them some additional hours so she is now working a total of 32 hours a month. Dreams can come true.