Let me be your guide to the federal social welfare programs that require you to apply: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income(together often referred to as ‘disability benefits’), as well as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Low-income heat and energy assistance program(LIHEAP), and Medicaid.

I can help you understand the rules and processes, as well as deciding when and if it makes sense to use each program. If you are thinking about starting your own business or seeking employment, I can help you calculate what you are and aren’t eligible for, and how to navigate this bureaucratic maze of rules so that you can control when, if, and how you exit any or all of these support programs!

Whether you:

  • Are debating whether or not to apply for disability benefits,
  • Know or suspect that you need benefits, but aren’t sure how to proceed or what the rules are
  • Have applied for disability, but are overwhelmed or uncertain what to do next
  • Feel embarrassed or ashamed about applying for these supports but know you need to do it
  • want to create your own business but don’t want to lose the benefits you have!

I can help you get those applications in!

I want to help you feel confident in your decision, whether it’s to apply for disability, or to wait you reach a particular point in your health, work, and life balance

I want to help you get through these applications with your self-esteem and self-belief intact – so part of our conversation will dig into the realities of social welfare programs and why the application process can be so painful, as well as ways for you to protect yourself from the worst of those effects!

You will be making the decisions, but I will be your guide along the path to help you determine your best steps.

I know that the idea of going onto welfare programs can feel shameful or like an admission of failure, but you deserve to get the help you need, and sometimes this is the best possible option for you and your family.

I hired Alison because I was feeling very desperate, fearful and overwhelmed by the process of applying for disability.  First and foremost she reassured me that we will get through this together, I was not alone.  She ensured that I was heard and knew that my fears were legit and that she understood. 

She gave me feedback in specific steps which helped organize my thoughts and prioritize my actions. She focused my attention on where it was most needed and at the same time allowed space and suggested that I take time to grieve the losses that filing for disability shined a strong light on and take time for myself with each step of the process knowing it is hard and uncomfortable. 

I felt very much seen and heard and this allowed me to know that I was not crazy or alone in this process and that Alison was here for me. I felt she was side by side with me and helped me better understand what I was unable to with clarity and knowledge. 

I have just completed all the documents Social Security requested into their office for review of my application. I am relieved at the same time eager to know what their decision is. I am praying and keeping myself positive, supported by my therapist, family and friends. I can only take it one step at a time. (I know that if my application is rejected, Alison will help me through my appeal as well)

I learned a heck of a lot! Had I known of Alison and her services ahead of my sending in my disability application, I would have had less pressure and been better prepared. I learned that it is incredibly important to document everything, keep connected to my doctors and their reports. She also reminded me of the importance of taking care of myself in the process. (I learned how to give the right and most useful details possible while writing my documentation.)

 She is amazingly gifted in this work. I so appreciate her gentle, understanding compassion and ability to listen from her heart. It goes a HECK OF A LONG WAY!

I 100%%%%%%% recommend working with Alison,  I already sing her praises to friends, and would refer anyone to her!

S. F., who is living with ulcerative colitis, PTSD, and Anxiety
Social welfare support coaching

I can help you be sure of your decisions!

This coaching program is designed to help you decide if and how to get disability and low-income support for yourself

Over the course of four phone calls and through email communication, we will tackle your biggest challenge on the social welfare front, whether it is how to do it, what to do, or if you should apply.  I will be with you and help you determine the challenge to face down and help you through the process, then take some time to discuss how the process resolved and what might be good next steps for you to take.

Throughout the program, you have email access to me, to ask for clarification or further details. I want you to be able to make your decision and fill out your paperwork with confidence and clarity. The social welfare process is tricky and often emotionally exhausting, so you deserve to get the support you need while maintaining your mental and emotional health.  

Riley Gerlach,
WordPress and Digital Systems Management Specialist

I love working with Alison! She is supportive, empathetic and very compassionate. In the short time that we work together, she has already confirmed that I’m on the right track with the benefits planning I had done previously. Looking forward to continued sessions with her where we can discuss how to handle finances (as a disabled entrepreneur) once the business brings in money.

Along with confirming and sharing financial benefit advice, she has been critical in helping me get out of my head. I have realized that I have to start taking small steps and stop overthinking. But you need a good mentor like Alison who can help you do that effectively. She’s very good at getting down to the essence of a thought process or issue and putting it in plain terms. That really helps! She’s also wonderful at finding and connecting you with resources and connections that can help you fulfill your goals. Highly recommended!

Riley Gerlach

How it works

  1. Evaluate your current situation
    • I will send you a questionnaire about your experiences and feelings about social welfare supports and your current situation(including geographic and an outline of your finances)
    • After I read over your information, we will have a phone session to discuss what your concerns are, and what level of understanding you have about your program options.  
  2. Planning
    • I will email you the links to resources that should help you better understand or manage your situation.
    • We will schedule a second phone conversation to determine our plan of action to help you take your next steps. This may be, for example:
      • Determining if applying for SSI or SSDI is an appropriate step
      • Prioritizing what programs to apply for while you await a decision
      • Determining what documentation you need and how to get it
  3. Accountability
    • Once you have all of the appropriate pieces together, we can go over your application to make sure it’s appropriately filled out
    • If you are applying for multiple programs or doing a multi-step process, we will have one phone discussion about the process(your most challenging one), but multiple check-ins by email
    • We also will go over how you are rewarding yourself for your completed steps and re-acknowledging the problems with the systems
  4. Progress review and next steps
    • This phone session will happen after you have carried through on your commitment.
    • We will go over what happened and how you felt about it.
    • We can also spend time discussing your progress and next steps.

About Alison

I have been living on SSDI benefits myself since 2004, and was supported in those efforts by friends and colleagues of my mother’s who worked in state disability services.

I’ve applied for(and received) most of the abovementioned benefits(including both SNAP and LIHEAP), so am speaking from personal experience. I happen to have a desire for a deeper understanding and a tendency to get curious about how each of these programs fits into the bigger picture.

My personal experiences with these programs and their psychological impact led to me doing some research on the topic in graduate school, during which I wrote a paper specifically focusing on how these programs impact the mental and emotional health of the program participants.

I decided to create my blog after my partner had his own serious injury. I managed his medical care as well as my own, and have used our experiences as the inspiration for many of my posts.

He pointed out to me that I have a pretty unique set of skills, between the detailed understanding I tend to bring to these programs and my own ability to pull out the most relevant pieces of information to help others get through their decision-making process.

I hope that I can help you to understand these processes and make the most out of whatever program you are eligible for.

Making these decisions can be hard, and carrying through on them can be even harder.