Friday, December 2, 2016

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Join me as I share my Becker Muscular Dystrophy Story.


My name is Brad Miller and I was diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 10, a condition which limits my ability to walk and gets progressively worse over time. I created the My Becker's Story blog in 2010 to share my story and to help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy. Along with sharing my story I also raise awareness about accessibility and the issues people with disabilities face. When it comes to the My Becker's Story blog even though the focus is on Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I also want to encourage those affected by other conditions even other forms of Muscular Dystrophy to join in as well. I truly believe when we join "Together" we can make a difference in our communities and raise even more awareness about Muscular Dystrophy and the issues people with disabilities face. The main focus behind the My Becker’s Story blog is to tell my story in hopes that it will somehow help those living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, as well as their families and friends.

What people are saying about the My Becker's Story blog:


"Hi there, I also suffer from BMD. Just read the blog and the first half is like reading my personal history!!"

"I ran across your spot today, you sure have a lot on here I will have to check in a lot. I also have BMD and everything you say resonates deeply."

"I am also in my mid-30's with Becker's from the UK so thought i'd join and say hello! Struggling with all the same things as mentioned in the blog!"

"I am new to this group. Just want to say it is nice to meet people who understand."

 "I love your blog and it is nice to know there are others out there facing the same challenges as I do each and every day."

If you would like to read my personal story about growing up with Becker Muscular Dystrophy please click on the image below.


When it comes to living with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I intend to take what I have been through in my life and some how use it to help those going through a similar situation. When it comes down to it the main idea behind My Becker’s Story is to help those like me who are living with Muscular Dystrophy, by creating a place for us to connect. I truly believe that we are in this "Together". And I believe that with every one’s help that together we can help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy around the world.
  

Laps for Muscular Dystrophy

Laps 4 MD Making a difference - One lap at a time.
 Along with sharing my story I also aim to make a difference in my community. The goal is to have a positive impact on the lives of others affected by Muscular Dystrophy. As a long time Motorsports fan in 2014 I founded Laps 4 MD - a network of professional racers who donate $1 from every lap they lead in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. I am truly thankful for everyone supporting the cause helping to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Muscular Dystrophy. To learn more please (Click Here)

Thank you for visiting the My Becker's Story blog!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

My experience of looking for a job with a physical disability

When it comes to living with the physical limitations a disability can bring some may believe this would take away one's ability to work. This is simply untrue as many people with disabilities work part-time & even full-time jobs and are perfectly capable of providing for themselves and their families. In my situation when it came to pursuing employment opportunities with Muscular Dystrophy it turned out to be more difficult than I originally thought. 

Taking advantage of programs offered to help me find a job


Thankfully I was able to take advantage of a employment supports program offered though the Ontario Disability Supports Program. This program helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to looking for a suitable form of employment. After taking part in three weeks of testing I was eventually set up with a local employment service provider who would then help me to find a job. The first thing they focused on was writing up a professional looking resume. Then they moved on to teaching me how to search for a job online. Our focus was on applying for call centre jobs, a form of employment that many with physical disabilities find that best suits their needs. Long story short after a year and a half of applying for jobs with a 0% success rate, we eventually reached out to a local temping agency for help. They were able to set me up with a short term contract position at a local call centre which was great. In no time I found myself arriving for my first day of training, unfortunately it didn't go so smoothly. As when I arrived I accidentally slammed my thumb in the front door of the call centre. After this I found myself in so much pain that I almost just turned around and went home, but I didn't want to get this far to just give up. So I decided to push through the pain and take part in training all while my thumb started to bruise up and turn black & blue. Thinking back I am glad I pushed through as this work experience gave me something to add to my resume. 

The up & downs of looking for a job with a physical disability 


After this contract ended I quickly applied for a job with the same employer at one of there other locations. At this point I didn't get hired and was a little frustrating. Eventually another position became available which I applied for. This time I was called in for an interview but this time ended up failing their mandatory typing test. Another set back but at this point I went out and bought a typing program for my computer and focused on improving my speed an skills. So a few months later I applied yet again for the same position and aced their typing test. The next thing I know I am starting training in a few weeks. This is the point when I found myself with a full-time job and the start of my new career. This was an exciting time, thankfully training turned out to be a lot of fun and after four weeks found myself working a full-time job at a local call centre. Sure there were days filled with challenging moments especially when it came to dealing with irate customers but I didn't let it get to me. I was simply happy having a job which meant things were going great for me financially. 

At this point I was truly benefiting from having this full-time job. I started feeling like a real success story, as it felt good no longer having to rely on income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Sadly this didn't last long as in my second year of employment found myself suffering from a work related injury. I went to see my doctor and was diagnosed with Tendinitis. A condition that affects the tendons and muscles that help move the shoulder joint. A condition which left me in excruciating pain. Long story short this work-related injury was blamed on the fact that I have Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. So I for that reason I was cut off from receiving workers compensation from the WSIB. It wasn't long after this I found myself re-applying and back to receive income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Sure things really didn't go as planned when it came to me working, but one thing I am proud of is that having a disability did not keep me from pursuing a career. That is why even today after all I have been through I still encourage those with disabilities who can to pursue finding some form of suitable employment. As I know now what it feels like to be able to make a living and to provide for myself and family.  

The reality for some looking for a job with a physical disability


Unfortunately, many people with disabilities still do face discrimination by some employers but I encourage everyone to never give up. After all it took me a year and a half and multiple tries before I being hired. Thankfully we now live in a time when employers attitudes towards workers with disabilities are changing. This means the possibilities of you finding a job are getting better every day. 

A message for those unable to work due to physical disability 


Now if you are unable to work and are currently receiving income support for having a disability that is nothing to be ashamed of. After all depending on the severity of some physical disabilities not everyone is able to work.

In my situation I am truly thankful for the income support the Ontario Disability Supports Program provides. My only hope is that one day the rates of income support we receive match the true cost of living. I also hope that one day we see major changes when it comes to the treatment of spousal income as it shouldn't be used to reduce my income support. I remain hopeful that some day soon this does change. 


Related Posts:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Becker's Story has been viewed over 200,000 times!

Over the last 7 years of sharing my story I have made many good friends and have even had the privilege of meeting others also affected by Becker's and other forms of Muscular Dystrophy. Being able to meet other's has helped to prove to me that we are all in this together. That is why I want to thank everyone who supports the My Becker's Story blog and my efforts to share my story. In the end, it’s all about raising awareness, not to bring the focus on myself but on all of us as a community.

So today I would like to thank everyone for their support of the My Becker's Story blog!


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Joys & Challenges the Christmas Season Brings

When it comes to the Holiday Season there are many joys that come along with celebrating Christmas with family & friends. As we enter the month of December the sounds of Christmas songs now play on many radio stations. As we all know this is the time of year most kids really look forward to, after all at Christmas the focus tends to be on the children. As a child for me Christmas was the most amazing season and yes the focus was on all the presents I was going to receive. Then as we grow up we imagine being parents and watching our own children experience the joys of this season. I am sure every parent out there enjoys seeing their children's faces on Christmas morning. I do hope that every parent out here knows how truly lucky you are. After all for some of us we could only dream of being so lucky. This is when we get into why for some this joyous season can also be a difficult time of the year. 

When it comes to growing up in life we quickly learn that things really never go as planned. In learned this back in 2009 when my wife and I were about to welcome our first baby girl into the world. We had just celebrated a great Christmas, then just a week later as we entered the new year found ourselves in the hospital surrounded by nurses desperately searching for our babies heartbeat. Next thing you know we are dealing with the devastating news that we had lost our baby girl, just a few weeks before the delivery date. That was the first of two still births as a year later we found ourselves in the same month in the exact same situation. These were two devastating blows two years in a row right after Christmas, so I am sure you can understand why for me and my wife this is such a difficult time of year. Even after six years what we faced brings about many tears as we have yet to have a child of our own. That is why I do hope that any parent reading this right now knows how lucky they are. Now over the last few years I have done my best to accept the challenges of life but this is a hard one to overcome. I really feel for my wife as I wish there was something I could do for her, as Christmas brings back a lot of memories of what we have both lost.

Still we do our best to enjoy this time of year, but trying to pretend everything is fine is getting a lot more difficult as the years go by. This year also feels a lot different as we simply lack any motivation to decorate or even put up a Christmas tree. In all honesty maybe I should even be sharing this as it might embarrass my wife. But I know there may be others out there who are facing the same difficulty in dealing with the holiday season, especially those who have faced a similar loss. My only motivation behind writing this blog post to show others facing the same challenges that they are not alone.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A look at: The Ontario Disability Supports Program

When it comes to people living with disabilities I am sure you will agree that we all have the right to get married or start a relationship without penalty. Sadly here in the Province of Ontario our Government has policies in place that actually end up punishing people with disabilities for getting married or for just living with someone they are in a relationship with. These policies govern the Ontario Disability Supports Program which was originally created to help those with disabilities in need of income support. The issue we are addressing today is their treatment of spousal earnings and the negative affect this is having on the lives of those with disabilities currently relying on income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program.

Here are the facts:


1) Spousal earnings are clawed back under current ODSP regulations. This forces non-disabled or working spouses to assume the full financial responsibility of the person with a disability. A result of ODSP benefit payments being made on behalf of families rather than individuals. Structuring the benefit unit in this way has many negative consequences for people who receive ODSP. As this ends up “stigmatizing and robs recipients of their dignity and control of their own lives.” As you can see the current system penalizes those who live with a spouse and prevents many from forming new relationships that would be beneficial to their health and well being. 

2) Currently the base amount of income support married couples can receive where the non-disabled spouse is working is $1688, this before Spousal earnings are clawed back. They will also receive the $100 work-related benefit due to one spouse working bringing their rate of income support up to $1788. Another benefit they are eligible to receive is the special diet allowance which can also increase their income support by another $100-$200. Meaning some couples may be eligible to receive up to $1904 monthly. While this might sound good many actually will never even come close to receiving this amount once Spousal earnings are clawed back. 
3) Once Spousal earnings are clawed back many actually see their income support reduced by 50-60% each and every month. Resulting in many seeing their income support eligibility drop drastically from $1688 to only $800 of income support per month. As you can see in many cases, the treatment of spousal earnings ensures that families cannot earn enough income to escape poverty. This burden compromises the independence of people with disabilities and also weakens the capacity of the family unit overall to achieve and maintain an adequate standard of living. Not only does this place added stress on the relationship it also keeps some from starting a relationship with someone because they have a disability and receive income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program.

What the Ontario Government needs to do:

 The Government of Ontario needs to stop placing financial limits on those with disabilities simply because they get married or start a relationship. The time is now to make the Province of Ontario a place that allows people with disabilities who are on ODSP to equally contribute and be involved in every aspect of marriage even when it comes to finances. That is why the Province of Ontario must add Spousal earnings to the list of "exempt" forms of income. After all spousal earnings should NOT affect the rate of income support anyone receives from the Ontario Disability Supports Program.
"

The time is NOW for the Ontario Government to ensure equality in marriage for all even those with disabilities! 


What people are saying about the treatment of spousal earnings by the Ontario Disability Supports Program:


"This is a disgrace and another example of indifferent, callous government bureaucracies pinching pennies on the backside of the truly needy & deserving!"

"This is truly INSANE, can't believe how this system appears to work. I knew it had problems, but this is worse than I thought. We appear to be going backwards with social programs not advancing.Ontario government please find a heart!"

"My marriage will not survive the financial stress. I have so much guilt in all of this, all I'm asking for is the dignity to financially help provide for my family." 

"I can tell you while I was married, this put a great deal of stress on the household that eventually ended our marriage."

"I am applaud, how can a person like me enjoy life with a person that has accepted me for who I am. Now when she see's this, she's not going to want to marry me!"

"I think I read somewhere, that 90% of people on ODSP are single due to their atrocious rules...it's very discriminatory."

"This can lead to a person in an abusive marriage having no way to leave."

"I went on ODSP 4 years ago at that time I was happily married for 16 years and enjoyed life, I am now separated living in a room. I am getting worse instead of better." 

"It's heartbreaking. I have been with my high school sweetheart for almost 11 years now. but we can't live together and we can't get married. it's soul crush and because of this I now fight with depression and a daily basis."

"I am reading about this literally a week from moving in with my girlfriend and her daughter.. I was overjoyed! As overjoyed as a person suffering from depression and several sleeping disorders, and deemed unfit to work could likely ever be. I was starting a family. Now all I feel is a knot in my stomach"

"This article has left me in tears. Finally I feel like I am not the only one who seems to see things as they are. My exact thoughts and words have been voiced."

"I am really glad to see that i am not the only one with this bullshit happening to them"

"I am in love with an ODSP recipient. I accept his limitations but I cannot expect him to be dependent on me and have his standard of living decline as well as his self-confidence."

"We all need to come together and fight these ridiculous "rules" that we're all getting screwed by. I'm totally committed to figuring all this out for everyone in need!"

 "I wish everyone would join the fight to fix this very very broken system."

Some Good News!


As of January 1st, 2017 the Ontario Government will be removing Child Support Payments from the list of income sources used to reduce the amount of income support those receive from ODSP. A major win for those receiving Child Support Payments. 

This leaves me very hopeful that a change regarding spousal earnings might actually just be around the corner. But this may still be a few years off that is why we need to keep the pressure on the Minister of Community and Social Services The Hon. Dr. Helena Jaczek and the Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne!

What we need to do


Send e-mails to the Minister of Community and Social Services The Hon. Dr. Helena Jaczek & to the Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne 

Simply Copy & Paste:

The Government of Ontario needs to stop placing financial limits on those with disabilities simply because they get married or start a relationship. The time is now to make the Province of Ontario a place that allows people with disabilities who are on ODSP to equally contribute and be involved in every aspect of marriage even when it comes to finances. That is why the Province of Ontario must add Spousal earnings to the list of "exempt" forms of income. After all spousal earnings should NOT affect the rate of income support anyone receives from the Ontario Disability Supports Program.

Send your e-mails to the Minister of Community and Social Services The Hon. Dr. Helena Jaczek at jaczek.mpp@liberal.ola.org 

To e-mail the Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne visit https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx 

After this be sure to Share this Blog Post with everyone you know!

This is the best way for all of us to make sure that our voice is heard loud & clear!


IMPORTANT: If you are currently receiving ODSP and are planning to marry or are in a common law relationship please call your local ODSP office. This is the best way for you to confirm how this might impact your income support.

Parts of this blog post contains information from the ODSP Action Coalition's report entitled "Dignity, Adequacy, Inclusion: Rethinking the Ontario Disability Support Program"

Related Posts:
Non-disabled spouses fobidden from saving for Retirement when in relationship with someone on ODSP &
Living with a Disability & Suffering a Work related Injury in Province of Ontario