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 firstname.lastname@example.org “