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June 17, 2016

On June 16, 2016, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) and Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) hosted a three-hour training, “Managing Employment & Benefits for Behavioral Health Consumers and Peers,” geared toward local behavioral health consumers. The training covered one of the most frequently discussed topics among participants involved in the Work Well Initiative — how to successfully manage employment status and public benefits simultaneously. This interactive session helped individuals understand benefit rules and regulations, while focusing on maximizing work efforts and increasing income.

Thirty individuals attended the training, which was held at SDWP. Jerri Ward of Disability Rights California (DRC) was on hand to provide presentations on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Aleyda Toruno, also from DRC, provided an overview of the Work Incentives and Planning Assistance (WIPA) program that she oversees. The day was rounded out with the expertise of Virginia Guerra of the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) who provided information on how individuals can access the wide array of DOR services, as well as an informational overview of the Ticket to Work Program.

Responses to the training were overwhelmingly positive with over 95 percent of attendees rating the training excellent or good overall in a post-event survey. “I learned some new things, thanks!” said one individual. “Great presentation, lots of helpful information and the pamphlets, Social Security Income book and slides were very helpful.”    

As part of the Work Well Initiative, SDWP also hosts quarterly employer socials, stakeholder and consumer focus groups and monthly Work Well Committee meetings — working toward a goal to reduce the stigma of mental illness while increasing employment opportunities for individuals who experience mental illness.

For more information or to get involved, contact Mario Becerra at

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