Success Story: Alishia
Over the years, Alishia has worked primarily in physically demanding positions. She was a corrections officer in a prison for more than eight years and worked in a factory setting more than six years.
Alishia was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which causes symptoms such as joint pain and disfigurement, stiffness, fatigue and swelling. She also has inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis in both hands and wrists, which affect her mobility and range of motion. This also limits grip strength and causes swelling in the hands, knees, ankles and legs. Alishia has limitations with climbing or standing for long periods of time. She also has a history of mental health issues, which are effectively treated through the use of medications.
Alishia applied for services with the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and was found eligible. Through vocational counseling and guidance, she and her counselor explored her interests and goals. She expressed an interest in career fields with minimal amounts of physically strenuous activity, including the ability to sit/stand as needed. She was open to a broad range of career fields, which would provide her the opportunity to be successful in employment while not contributing to further limitations based on her disabilities.
DRS provided several services to Alishia while she worked on her Individualized Plan for Employment. She received job-placement services, employment/follow-along services, on-the-job training and benefit-specialist services. These services assisted her with applying for employment, working on her résumé and sharpening interview skills to increase employability.
Career Advantage, a community support provider, was utilized to coordinate services and provide the employment specialist to assist Alishia with the job placement to ensure she obtained and maintained successful community-based employment consistent with her interests and abilities.
Black Hills Special Services Cooperative was involved and met with Alishia to provide a benefits summary and analysis to assist her with learning about how her Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits would be impacted by earning wages.
Alishia was determined eligible for SSDI benefits in May 2012; she receives Title II Disability Benefits and Medicare Parts A, B and D.
Alishia found employment that was consistent with her interests, abilities and capabilities. She is employed with AAA Cab LLC as a taxi driver. She works about 25 hours a week and has been there since August 2014.
Alishia states that her employer, Gary Penney, is a great advocate for individuals with disabilities. Alishia appreciates his willingness to work with individuals, “giving them a second chance.” Gary is known in the community for hiring individuals with disabilities and providing flexible work schedules.
Alishia spends her free time sewing, crocheting and knitting. She also volunteers with her church and is involved with the “Harvest Table,” in which a warm meal is served every Monday night for anyone in the community looking for good food and good company.