Looking for a job (with MS) in Seattle
August 16, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

A recent diagnosis of MS, a year of living off my savings (no unemployment) and a need for some thoughtful advice from the hive mind. More inside.

Thanks for reading. I'm well-educated (two Masters) and at the moment, unemployed. I've been a teacher (HS) for the past twelve years but upon my return from an international school found myself exhausted, depressed, and unable to get out of bed some days. I was diagnosed with MS in March which, in a way, was a relief, because it meant that I wasn't just lazy and crazy. (For the last year or two I found myself falling down a lot and being totally exhausted which I considered a character flaw until my doctor figured out my diagnosis. Fortunately, I've qualified for charity care from the MS center and have started on the appropriate medication. The embarrassing part to me is that I'm really on my own. I have no close family - I took care of my parents until they passed away and my career and the caretaking took the place of my having a life for many years. For the last year, I've been living off my savings. I'm now at the point where I need to tap my IRA - the only savings I have left. I've been told that since I own a car, I won't be eligible for public assistance which, frankly, the prospect of is a big red sign that says "Shame". I am looking for a job but it's pretty tough going.
I'm looking for advice from the hive mind. I don't want to bother anyone but if you have some ideas or experience with a similar situation, I'd be most grateful for your thoughts. Thanks, Aimee
By the way, my degrees are in the following (BFA Theatre, MA Teaching secondary; MA Shakespeare studies) and my hobby is ceramics and reading, and my wished for job is in a library or in archival work - or any sedentary position where I don't have to walk around all day (I use a cane for my MS).
posted by superguppy to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do not rely on what people say when it comes to public assistance. You need good advice from someone who specializes in helping people in your exact situation. I would start at the MS charity or your doctor's office. Does either place have a social worker? Can they put you in touch with one? A social worker will be a lot of help in managing buracracy.
posted by pickypicky at 7:47 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe you can't get social assistance, but what about disability? I'm not sure how that all works where you are, but maybe it's an option.

Don't be ashamed to use social assistance if you need it. That's what it's there for.
Plus, being on social assisstance often provides you with access to other resources and programs for job hunting.

Here's hoping it all works out for you!
posted by windykites at 8:20 PM on August 16, 2012

Yes, I have experience with a similar situation. A close friend, who owns a car, has MS and also qualified for SSDI (Social Security disability). It takes a long time to put the application through but if the MS is preventing you from being able to hold down steady employment, you should really look back into this.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:25 PM on August 16, 2012

I think you should talk a lot with both the MS charity you're already in touch with, and the Alliance of People with disAbilities (which is a King Co.-specific organization.)

I know people with MS who've got jobs and people with MS on SSDI/SSI. The car thing is mostly a Medicaid-specific criterion (and as far as I know, it's an outdated standard.) It definitely doesn't apply to SSI or SSDI.
posted by SMPA at 8:53 PM on August 16, 2012

I think you should pursue the disability aid, but also keep investgating the full part-tme work options.

Talk to the folks in HR at the library and ask what the full or part time options might be.

Another possibility might be teaching online community college course(s), or professional development courses for secondary teachers.

If you can, maybe recruit a friend to be your bureaucracy hoop jumping buddy to help you navigate and/or be your sounding board over the application process.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 9:08 PM on August 16, 2012

Don't take someone's word for it that you don't qualify for disability. Find a good advocate, possibly through the MS charity, or at least ask them. You may get turned down the first time -- that's unfortunately normal, and you have to appeal it. Disability is there for people who can't work, or who can't work full time. You just need to find your way in, which is a skill, and there are people who can help.

I pay my taxes so that people who need disability can get it. You paid into your state disability fund while you were working.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:09 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say you're on your own, but I think that's far from the truth - I know Seattle has one of the highest incidences of MS in the country. There are bound to be loads of support groups and patient advocacy organizations. I'm sure Swedish or whichever clinic you visit for care can help. These organizations are surely useful in employment issues, too.

In my own experience, the National MS Society has been extremely helpful. My local chapter has a social worker on staff for issues just like yours. I'd give them a call if you haven't already.
posted by OHSnap at 10:56 PM on August 16, 2012

I can't really answer your question, but as far as MS treatment goes, look up the work of Dr. Terry Wahls (she's got a wonderful TED talks video). It's very impressive!
Good luck!
PS: I've been in your shoes in the sense of everyone (including myself) thinking I'm crazy and depressed when instead I had a legitimate medical condition, so I can sympathize. It sucked. But since finding out what I had and taking steps to reverse and improve it, my life has improved tremendously. I hope yours does too!
posted by Neekee at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely talk with your local chapter of the National MS Society. You can call them at 1-800-344-4867 and explain your situation, and they can help you figure out what kind of government and charitable financial assistance you should be applying for. They would also be able to help you learn more about the legal rules for employers when you're looking for a job; most places would be required to make reasonable accommodations for your disability. The people at the MS society would be able to explain it better than me, certainly. Good luck!
posted by vytae at 12:42 PM on August 17, 2012

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