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Jeanette's Story

Having a Vehicle Empowers Employment

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Many of us take for granted how access to a vehicle allows us to be more independent.  Imagine how difficult, and potentially impossible, it would be for any of us to keep a job or maintain our independence without personal transportation.  However, the system often forces people with disabilities to live in poverty in order to access life-sustaining health care and long-term care services or supports (ex: Medicaid, Social Security, etc.), to meet one’s own basic health needs.  When you are forced to live in poverty, its sometimes impossible to have the resources to pay reliable transportation.  Without a vehicle, people with disabilities are often cut off from society and prevented from obtaining employment.

Jeanette’s case shows the importance of having a vehicle to obtain employment.  Jeannette knew that she had the skills that would make her desirable to potential employers.  Jeannette developed a plan for employment with the help of Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR), but transportation to and from work continued to be the major hurdle to securing a job.  At the time, she was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and used a wheelchair.  Jeanette didn’t have the resources to purchase the vehicle she needed and access to alternative transportation just was not dependable.

The Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) Jeanette had in place through VR allowed the purchase of a vehicle, because it was needed to obtain employment.  Unfortunately, Jeanette had significant communication problems with VR resulting from a change in counselors.  She  simply wasn’t able to get through to the new VR staff. Jeanette wasn’t getting the services that had already been agreed to.  At this point, she was so concerned that she was in danger of losing a highly sought after job opportunity that she decided to obtain vehicle with a personal, low-interest loan through KATCO (Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative).

Jeanette contacted the Disability Rights Center (DRC) for assistance with this issue.  By working together she and DRC advocated that VR reconsider her case.  VR agreed and helped pay off her KATCO loan as an amended IPE because it was needed to maintain employment. Further, VR agreed to pay for the needed modifications to the vehicle.  Because of these changes to the IPE, she was able to successfully maintain her employment as an independent living caseworker.

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