San Bernardino Man Survives Disabling Osteoarthritis, Returns To Work
James Wright from San Bernardino nearly lost everything when he was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis. With help from Social Security’s Ticket to Work program and an employment network called Allsup, Wright got back on his feet and now works full-time.
In 2013, James Wright’s osteoarthritis got so bad that he had his right knee replaced.
Wright: “And then 2015 I had my left knee replaced, and then 2017 it was the hip, the hip went out on me and I was just to the point of hurting so bad and then the X-rays and the MRI's revealed I had bone-on-bone in my hip.”
So, that led to a total hip replacement. He then went on long-term disability through the insurance plan purchased through his employer.
Wright: “After a certain time period went by, a little over a year, actually it was closer to 2 years, they said I had to apply for social security disability and they referred me to the company Allsup.”
Allsup, an employment network, helped Wright navigate the complexities of applying for social security.
Wright: “They explained to me in good detail about as far as the paperwork that was going to be involved and they had sent me that and then I filled out the paperwork, signed it, and sent it back to them, and they were my go-between between social security, disability and me.”
After being awarded Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, Wright learned about Social Security’s Ticket to Work program, which helps people with disabilities return to work.
Wright: “It was explained to me that what they're doing is, for a certain amount of time, I believe it's 9 months to a year, I'm basically in the system still as on social security/disability, to where if for some reason my hip would actually keep me from working, then the paperwork would be initiated as far as just a note from the doctor I guess or justification that okay he can't make it, and the social security picks right up, there's no lapse, and I'll be right back in the system as far as being disabled and on social security disability.”
Wright is now back to full time work.
Wright: “My goal is my full retirement age of 66 in two months or a little bit past that, but that's my goal is to retire and that was what was hurting me when I'm out, when I'm out on disability there's nothing going into my pension or my 401k at work so it was like I got to get back to work, I got to get my money back in there so I can retire without worrying about financial situations.”
Wright says he’s grateful for the Ticket to Work program and Allsup’s help in applying for benefits and returning to work.
Wright: “I had never been exposed to anything like this before, and it was just nice to have, as far as having somebody, just trying to get back to work with the physical therapy and everything, but then to have somebody basically take care of me in a sense as far as we're going to take care of the paperwork, we're going to take care of the communications. Allsup just made the whole situation a lot easier than the anxiety and the frustration, just that I had to do my due diligence and get back to work and they really helped.”
You can learn more about the Ticket to Work program at choosework.ssa.gov, and you can learn more about Allsup at allsupemploymentservices.com.