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Sep16

Don't let HIV keep you from pursuing a career or your passion

Friday, 16 September 2016 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Aging, Social Media, Mental Health, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

From TheBody.com Matt Ebert reports on how many are finding their way out of the disability insurance doldrums

Don't let HIV keep you from pursuing a career or your passion

This article by Matt Ebert previously appeared at the Body.com and you can read the whole thing here.

I have a friend who receives a hefty check every month for not going to work. Back in the 1990s when he found out he was HIV positive, he cashed in on an income insurance policy. Now, as long as he stays unemployed, he receives six figures every year. For many of us that would be a blessing, but I wonder -- can it also be a bit of a curse?

I have seen him in good times and bad, and I have seen how his fear of losing those monthly checks can play out aggressively. Once, when the insurance company threatened to cut him off for a short gig he had picked up, his answer was to admit himself to the hospital -- something he told me privately he did not need to do. I pointed out to him that his disability payments ultimately had the effect of incentivizing him out of the workforce.

If I am honest, my own SSDI checks sometimes have this same effect. So a few years ago, I challenged myself to get back to work. I realized that I didn't know my rights, and that's a big part of the problem for many of us. Too many disabled people don't know what their rights are, what the rules are or how to get started finding work once they've been on welfare for a while. Many of us also don't know a thing about the many programs available to help us get started and stay employed.

After a decade of his insurance arrangement, I asked my friend whether he honestly thought his situation was better than working. He said that, looking back on the last ten years, he wasn't sure. He felt as if he hadn't advanced interpersonally: His skills hadn't improved, his creativity had waned and even his social life was at an all-time low. I asked him what the hardest thing was about not working, and he told me it was loneliness and a sense of worthlessness.

He felt no connection to the culture around him, and he regretted waiting so long to get back to work. Now he volunteers, and recently he started sending out resumes and looking for fulltime work. It's difficult for him, but not impossible, and when he took control he recognized immediately this was for the best. He knew he couldn't go back to what he had been doing before the disability -- he had "aged out" of his old career -- but the search led him on a quest to better understand where his passions lay and ultimately to have a better understanding of his own real needs -- the ones money can and can't buy.

This article by Matt Ebert previously appeared at the Body.com and you can read the whole thing here.

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