Meet newest MLWT Guest Blogger: Kathryn Heatherly

As a follow up to Rosalind’s post on tips to consider when initiating a conversation with your boss, we wanted to introduce you to a new local contributor, Kathryn Heatherly.   She is a disability management specialist and vocational expert here in the Pacific Northwest (PNW)We look forward to learning more from Kathryn about resources, services, policies and recommendations through her future posts that may provide even more support if or when the time comes to step away from your current employment and begin to consider your future.

I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my background with your members who may need representation for matters concerning Social Security Disability (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

 As a certified rehabilitation counselor for over 27 years, I have been engaged in private practice in Oregon and Washington since 1980.  I am also a licensed professional counselor with the state of Oregon, as well as a certified disability management specialist.  I have extensive experience as a Vocational Expert with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and am certified by the Department of Labor to provide vocational services to federal employees.

In 1995,  I became a Vocational Expert with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) with SSA.  In that role, I gained valuable experience providing testimony to assist the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with determining whether folks were able to work, under SSA regulations.  After over 13 years as a VE for SSA, I followed the counsel of several ALJs who recommended that I begin representing clients in their applications for SSDI/SSI. 

Most all of my clients are reassured to have access to an actual counselor who is well acquainted with the process upon which the disability determination in SSA is based:  ability to work.

I have extensive experience working closely with clients whose diagnoses include lupus and fibromyalgia, conditions that require the expertise of a professional who understands how the resulting symptoms so often prevent many people from sustaining work.  For many of my clients who suffer from these diagnoses, the real challenge is not found in getting a job, but in keeping the job. 

I have just completed my coursework for my doctorate in Human Rehabilitation, and look forward to concluding the dissertation requirement for my PhD in about a year.  While this credential certainly isn’t necessary or required for my work as a representative, many ALJs recognize the degree of proficiency afforded by years of such study.  It will be a powerful and respected credential for my clients who deserve the best representation available.

I serve clients throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho and may be reached toll free at 1 (888) 355-5539 or by email at 

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  1. #4  Maria

    Many thanks for the feedback on Ms. Heatherly’s services. I have never heard from her after our initial conversation. I now work closely with a local attorney specializing in SSD and SSI here in the Portland. Her name is Cheryl Coon and you can find out more about her in the June 6th,August 9th and September 19th, 2011 posts. Or you can go straight to her website at As always, please contribute your recommendations. Ms. M, I hope you are able to find a resource who will treat you with more respect and the support you are looking for in your SSI/SSD. Best wishes~

    13/01/17 15:31
  2. #3  Ms. M

    I do not recommend this company. You can not get a callback from their representatives. They said they were going to assist me, and they have my paperwork, but I have been trying to find out the stautus for over 3 months now. The receptionist says “they are in a meeting”, and then they never call back- very poor customer service. I wonder if they are a scam.

    13/01/17 15:02
  3. #2  maria

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us here~ it is necessary to receive this information to ensure quality support for the readers. Although I encourage feedback regarding services and professionals directly to me via email, I am going to post this comment here today, as it is an important point about remembering our position as consumers of services when choosing our advocates wisely. Ms. Heatherly mentioned an interest in writing about SSDI topics, but did not submit anything after this initial post. I continue to look for professionals in the Oregon disability services to be willing to share information and expertise to assist those in need of such support. Please refer names of anyone you would recommend and think they might be willing to be a part of our team.

    11/05/23 09:51
  4. #1  Former Social Security employee

    Ms. Heatherly promotes herself as a SSD/SSI specialist. I was a Disability Analyst for Social Security at their Disability Determination Services office in Salem Oregon. This is where the final decisions are made on SSD and SSI claims. I made decisions on claims where Ms. Heatherly represented the claimants. I found her to have very little understanding of the Social Security Disability and SSI process. The few times I had to speak to her about a claim, she was difficult to reach, would not return my calls and then when I did speak with her, was arrogant. She provided the wrong or unnecessary documentation for the claimants. Based on my experience, I came across some fabulous representatives, mainly the attorneys. These are the people who should be part of this blog.

    11/05/20 18:04

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