Hand putting money into a piggy bank that looks like a brain

Six Ways to Earn Money After an MS Diagnosis

Just been diagnosed with MS and worried it will affect your earning ability? Medically retired on disability and need to make some extra money?

There is no time like the present to create a side hustle, a way to supplement your regular income. If you are drawing Social Security disability like I am, you know it doesn’t cover everything you need and want. Solution? Start doing something that will grow and bring in significant income over time.

How to earn money with MS

Here are six ideas.

1. SSA Ticket to Work program

If you are age 18-64 and drawing either Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Social Security Supplemental (SSI), you can work without losing your benefits. There are many service providers offering jobs about whom you can learn more. Visit SSA.gov, or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842. The phone rep can mail you a list of job providers or show you how to use the online search tool.

You might also consider the option of consulting with your state vocational rehabilitation services or employment network (EN) to prepare you for work, help you determine what kinds of jobs are right for you, and identify which service providers offer those jobs. Contact your county DHHS.

Ticket to Work jobs can be rather limited. If you wish to work at home, most of the jobs will be telemarketing. Jobs outside the home might be limited, too, and not in line with your desires and skills. If that is not what you want, there are other avenues to explore.

2. Sell goods online

Have vintage items you’re tired of storing? Make your own jewelry? Love baking for people? Sell them online! Here are some of the most popular sites to do business.

  • Facebook Marketplace - Sell most anything here
  • Etsy - Hand-crafted, collectible and vintage items
  • Ruby Lane - Similar to Etsy
  • eBay - Vintage, collectible, and new items
  • Amazon – Just about everything
  • Shopify – Software that helps you set up an online store plus physical POS location
  • Craigslist – Sell most products and services

3. Become a health advocate

Let’s be honest. You have a chronic medical condition. And there are positive ways to exploit it. And though it will involve a few steps and take some time, you can accomplish two valuable goals: Help other people and make money.

Create an online blog. This is a good first step. Create a website and write about what it’s like to live with your medical condition. Here’s where you build your brand. Develop your unique writing voice and start attracting the attention of the disease community.

Get yourself out there:

  • Join online disease communities. Write a guest story about your personal journey. Reach out to the site leads and contributors and tell them your goals. There are plenty who might be willing to mentor you!
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. You can add to it while you build your brand and make yourself visible to potential clients.

Subscribe to site listings of employment opportunities. Here are a few:

  • Patients Getting Paid (PGP): While there is a monthly subscription fee of $29, it is well worth the investment. Created and run by Kathy Reagan Young: marketing guru, MS advocate, singer/songwriter, fitness maven, and pioneering “chronicpreneur,” a portmanteau she coined to describe an entrepreneur who is building a career from living with chronic illness(es). Available here.
  • Holly the WAH (Work at Home) Woman: Subscribe to her newsletter listings of work-at-home gigs here.
  • Savvy Co-op: Sign up to receive their newsletter list of paid patient gigs here.

4. Do contract work using your skills and knowledge

If you have strong administrative skills, you can hire yourself out to companies or individuals looking for talent that possesses exactly what is in your wheelhouse. Are you a writer who wants to edit and critique manuscripts? Or are you strong at Microsoft Office or Apple apps, typing, data entry? Web design? Sales and marketing? Whatever skills and experience you have, think of yourself as a consultant who can add value to the client's projects and goals. One good thing that came out of COVID is that businesses are much more open to employees and contractors working remotely. So take advantage! And don’t forget to create and develop your LinkedIn profile.

5. Network with former colleagues

Even if you’ve lost touch, reach out and let them know you are back in business and want to work. Not only can they help connect you with potential clients, but they can also clue you in on what you need to do to make yourself more marketable.

6. Volunteer

What do you love more than anything? Animal rescue? Helping seniors? Do it as a volunteer. Tell the paid staff what your goals are. Over time, they will notice your work habits, reliability, and dedication, and possibly either hire you or tell you where there are openings for paid positions.

Now more than ever, the work-at-home job market is bustling. People are quitting their traditional jobs and going into business for themselves. So what are you waiting for? Start walking that path today by doing any of those activities listed above. Best of luck to all!

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