JEFF’S MONTHLY INCOME AND EXPENSES
For the past 15 years, Jeff has received SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) which helps to pay for some living expenses and part of his required health insurance. Jeff receives $1,355 per month in SSDI and his expenses (without medical emergencies or other extenuating circumstances) average approximately $3,500 per month. A blind person with Type 1 Diabetes also has special added expenses that are not always covered by medical insurance. A portion of Jeff’s $3,500 monthly expenses are the costs of unreimbursed diabetic supplies combined with a required supplemental Humana Health Insurance policy. These expenses alone amount to $1,015 per month. By law Jeff is allowed to earn up to approximately $2,040 a month without losing his SSDI income. If Jeff was able to earn $2,040 per month plus the $1,355 per month he receives in SSDI, he would be able to pay for most of his monthly expenses independently.
Jeff deserves to live a meaningful, happy and independent life. He has a roommate with whom he shares a two bedroom apartment, and they support each other. Jeff does not live with his parents nor does he live in government subsidized housing (very difficult to find, long waiting lists, and often in very poor condition when found).
The first phase of The Brothers Project, to help find a positive and meaningful job where Jeff can truly contribute to his employer, has been successful. He will work at The Torah School of Greater Washington (TSGW) starting in the 2019-2029 school year teaching music to elementary school students. The second phase of The Brothers Project is to raise money to pay for Jeff’s salary for working at the TSGW. Currently Jeff’s salary is funded through the winter of 2020 at a rate of $1,000 per month. The goal is to fund the project so that Jeffrey’s salary is $2,000 per month (the amount he is able to receive legally without losing his SSDI benefits). It should be noted that the federal government encourages SSDI recipients to work and that Jeff is required to provide the salary information for his employers as well as supervisor and other information to the SSDI department.
WHY DOESN’T TSGW Pay for JEFF’s Salary?
This is a question that many people may ask themselves. It is a valid question to consider when being asked to help pay for Jeff’s salary, whether the donation is tax deductible or not. The explanation is straightforward.
First: There was no specific job available at TSGW for a part-time music teacher, nor was there any salary available for the position. The job of part-time music teacher was created by the TSGW administration at the request of the Brothers Project. Furthermore, the TSGW administration agreed that Jeff’s position would be based on the goals and guidelines of the Brothers Project.
Second: The TSGW administration accepted the responsibility of creating a position for Jeff where he can contribute using his specific skills in music and singing. TSGW is a friendly and supportive community. Jeff and the staff and students of TSGW are all benefitting from this new, positive and exciting phase of Jeff’s life.
Third: In the past 15 years of job search, no employers would provide Jeff with a part-time job using his skill set in a positive environment outside of his apartment with the opportunity to interact with people face to face . The music teacher position at TSGW allows Jeff to use his musical and singing talents and his ability to be an educator and role model for children. He can succeed in this role while eventually earning near the monthly maximum of $2,040 that he is permitted without losing his Social Security Disability Insurance.
Fourth: Jeff must prove to TSGW (or to any other future employer) that over time a BLIND PERSON can be a productive and valued asset to the workplace community. According to the National Federation of the Blind, approximately 70% of blind people are unemployed. It is no simple task for a government department, business, non-profit or school to consider hiring a blind person. There is the rational and legitimate concern that the manpower and financial costs to support a blind person in the workplace are too great to provide a work opportunity. Furthermore, the employer often considers a BLIND PERSON to be a risk of injury to themselves and others, and this does not even include the consideration of other fears and prejudices. Due to the fact that the Brothers Project supports Jeff’s salary completely, much of the risk and concerns of an employer about hiring a blind person are removed. However, Jeff must still prove himself over time.
Fifth: Over time, as Jeff proves himself to his employer, the Brothers Project will ask the employer to join the financial support of Jeff’s salary. However, it cannot be stated strongly enough that this is a classic “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” problem. Jeff cannot prove himself to an employer without working, and it is extremely hard to find an employer willing to give Jeff a chance to so do. (15 years of trying is proof of that fact.) Therefore, the Brothers Project stepped in to PROVIDE A NEEDED BRIDGE AND OPPORTUNITY that allows Jeff to work and to prove himself while earning a salary.
The Brothers Project provides dignity, fulfillment and income to Jeff and a wonderful music teacher and life role model to the students of TSGW.