How long have you worked at Abilitree?
I’ve been the Social Security Disability Representative at Abilitree for 3.5 years.
What drew you to working at Abilitree?
I had been a court reporter for disability hearings for a number of years before working at Abilitree. I observed the ins and outs of how the Social Security Disability process works and began to train my ear to the language of both the legal and medical players involved. I envisioned one day working as a disability representative in order to assist people who experience disabilities navigate the complex disability application process. When a job at Abilitree opened up, I jumped on it.
What continues to impact you about your job?
The variety. Every disability case is unique as it pertains to each individual. One is always and forever a novice at this job, no matter how studied and professional, new challenges are constantly popping up. I learn something new every single day. It’s immensely rewarding to know that I’ve helped someone and improved my skill set at the same time.
What impact do you think you have on making our community stronger?
I feel I’m able to outline the disability process in a way that’s easy to understand. It feels like a small success because the majority of applicants are not very well informed about the steps they need to take and it can be an extremely difficult and confusing process. As an advocate, I can assist each person on what avenues they might need to take and as a representative I assure them they have support throughout the process. Helping individuals understand the Social Security disability process is the most important aspect of my job.
How has covid-19 changed how you support people?
In a way it’s streamlined it a bit more. Since we’re not currently doing in-person screening and intake appointments, I’m able to schedule more people by phone. I can complete both the screening and intake in one swoop and get their disability application started in the same appointment, where it used to take three individual meetings. Those who live outside the Bend area do not have to make the drive to the office two or three times, everything can be taken care of over the phone and through the mail. The pandemic has forced us to think outside the box and come up with a more effective approach in a lot of ways.
Visit our staff information page click here. And for more information on applying for Social Security Disability with the support of an Abilitree advocate click here.