March 19, 2009

THE ASSERTIVE-OUTREACH STORY

Build trust by listening to each person's fears and concerns and by responding with facts that address each directly

—by Matthew K. Weiland and Paul M. Kubek

Many individuals in recovery feel they are taking a risk by going back to work, mainly the risk of losing medical coverage and other benefits. They fear that income earned from the job will make them ineligible for benefits programs. What many folks don't realize is that they can earn a regular paycheck and still retain cash benefits from Social Security (e.g., SSI, SSDI) and medical benefits from Medicaid or Medicare, among others.

Steve Shober, BS, LSW, tells a story about a man who was ambivalent about getting a job because he did not believe his benefits would remain intact. Simply put, the man did not trust Steve, and he did not trust the benefits systems. It may seem ironic, but Steve did not take offense: he understood where the man was coming from. To Steve, personal finances are just that—personal—and it is a natural instinct for each of us to protect ourselves. He knows that the consequences of misinformation can be devastating.

Over a span of three years, Steve established trust with this consumer through assertive outreach and follow-along benefits planning. This story describes the importance of building trust and also outlines a few simple ways of doing so. Learn how Steve helped this man resolve his uncertainties about benefits programs and manage recurring "I-quit" feelings once he did find the jobs he wanted.

THE CONVERSATION

This is one installment in a collection of stories from conversations with Steve Shober, BS, LSW, about the importance of benefits planning. Steve is a former vocational specialist, job coach, and benefits counselor who works as a consultant and trainer at the Ohio Supported Employment Coordinating Center of Excellence (SE CCOE), an initiative of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University.


1.) You Can't Replace the Face-To-Face (1m, 17s)
Steve met once a week for almost three years with a man who was ambivalent about going back to work, listening carefully to his concerns and responding gently to each. The face-to-face time laid a foundation of trust that kept their relationship intact during some difficult times.
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2.) Letting Him Have a Voice (2m, 10s)
This man was hesitant to believe what Steve was telling him about his benefits and would ask very specific, challenging questions. In response, Steve conducted research and showed the guy the information he found. Steve also took his client to the local Social Security office so he could address his concerns directly to people there. In short, Steve gave the consumer opportunities to check and recheck his credibility,
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3.) Responding to "I Quit" Feelings (1m, 8s)
Once the man found a job, his benefits concerns did not go away. He was constantly anticipating the worst and threatening to quit his jobs to alleviate the anxiety. Steve provided follow-along benefits counseling, and the man kept his faith.
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4.) Explaining Changes in the Housing Subsidy (2m, 13s)
Once employed, the man's housing subsidy was set up as a gradual three-year decrease. When he reached the third year, the subsidy ended, and he had to pay full rent. He panicked but did not quit his job. He trusted Steve's counsel and came to understand that the money stream from working was actually more than the subsidy provided.
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5.) Sign Off (0m, 44s)
A production of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University—a partnership of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case and the Department of Psychiatry at the Case School of Medicine.
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BENEFITS PLANNING SERIES

Get a list of all Benefits Planning eConsults (click here).


Matthew K. Weiland, MA, is senior writer and producer and Paul M. Kubek, MA, is director of communications at the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University—a partnership of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case and the Department of Psychiatry at the Case School of Medicine.
 

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