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Employment Options For Adults With a Disability

Differently abled coworkers in office

There are plenty of opportunities for adults with a disability to join the workforce. A variety of protections, employment options and assistance programs can help ensure a positive employment experience and equal opportunities in the workplace.

Employment protections for adults with a disability

Whether you’re looking for employment or already have a job, know that your rights are protected. There are several laws to protect adults with a disability in the workforce, including the Americans With Disabilities Act.

To ensure equal work opportunities for those with disabilities, the ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified applicants with special needs. For more information and assistance, contact the ADA National Network at 800-949-4232.

Employers may not ask about disabilities, so it’s up to you to disclose that information and provide the necessary supporting documentation. Include any accommodations you need to help improve your job performance.

Reasonable accommodations are generally free or low-cost solutions that the employer can provide to remove barriers that may exclude someone from employment. If an accommodation imposes an undue hardship based on the difficulty or expense when compared to the size, financial resources, nature or structure of a business, employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodation. For more information about accommodations, visit the Job Accommodation Network.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. If you experience discrimination and the workplace due to your disability, you can file a complaint with the EEOC to be evaluated to see if it is covered under federal law.

Forms of discrimination include:

  • Unfair treatment
  • Harassment by managers, co-workers or others in the workplace
  • Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation
  • Retaliation because of a job discrimination complaint, or assistance with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit

For more information about workplace discrimination, visit the EEOC website.

Employment options

There are a variety of employment options available for adults with a disability.

Competitive employment refers to a full- or part-time job that pays minimum wage or above. Competitive employment is possible for many individuals with disability-related needs, especially when provided appropriate training and accommodations.

An entrepreneur or someone who is self-employed owns and operates their own business. You can become an entrepreneur by establishing a business in a field you’re knowledgeable in. For more information and assistance with starting a business, visit the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy website.

Supported employment helps those with disabilities learn the skills and behaviors required for specific jobs, find positions that meet individual needs and provide support during the hiring process. Through supported employment, those with disabilities can receive hands-on training and ongoing support from trained job coaches as they master a specific job. Visit your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program website for additional information on supported employment.

A mobile work crew is a small group of employees, led by trained supervisors, who travel from one location to another performing certain tasks, such as cleaning or grounds maintenance. Mobile work crews provide paid employment opportunities for those with disabilities in a variety of community settings and are funded through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Medicaid or local community programs.

Day activity centers help those with disabilities move toward supported and competitive paid employment. Participants can develop employment skills while strengthening daily living abilities in a supervised, structured environment. Day activity centers are primarily funded by Medicaid.

Employment assistance

Individuals with disabilities can find information and support through several programs and agencies when seeking employment opportunities. You can find information and links to national, state and local employment assistance for adults with disabilities on the Office of Disability Employment Policy website.

Installation employment assistance programs help individuals reach their employment and career goals by providing the tools and skills necessary to identify and actively pursue employment that matches individual needs and skills.

Military OneSource can identify local resources and perform local searches for employment agencies that specialize in your personal career interests. It also provides links to websites and publications that advertise job opportunities and has a variety of articles and resources about finding employment and career building.

Networking is a great way to connect with employers and individuals in your chosen field. Connecting with family, friends, community members or even business you frequent can lead to job opportunities. You can also connect with others, get advice and find employment opportunities through social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

The State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program provides grants to states operating statewide vocational rehabilitation programs. These help adults with disabilities create employment plans based on their needs, skills and interests. These include education or training and employment goals, supports needed to achieve those goals and estimated time frames for achieving them.

While most Vocational Rehabilitation services are free or offered on a sliding-fee scale, costs and access to services vary by state. CareerOneStop is a VR service that provides job training and education along with job search and placement assistance, labor market information, skills and needs assessments, and follow-up to help maintain employment.

Local or state employment agencies or workforce commissions offer free assistance with job searching and specialize in job-seeker and employer services, unemployment benefits, employment training services and job market information.

The Job Accommodation Network provides guidance on accommodations for employers, employees and future employees along with information on interviewing, resumes and tips on self-disclosure. JAN also has a Searchable Online Accommodation Resource.

The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program helps evaluate how employment will impact eligibility for employment incentive programs and benefits for those receiving Social Security.

In addition to the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program, the Social Security Administration offers the Plan to Achieve Self-Support program, which helps individuals set aside income or resources for a specific period to achieve a work goal. Money set aside is not counted by the SSA when determining Supplemental Security Income payment amounts.

The SSA also offers the Ticket to Work program, which supports career development for those who receive Social Security disability benefits and want to work. It offers access to meaningful employment with the assistance of authorized employment service providers.

Want to know more?

Want to know more about employment for individuals with disabilities? Contact your installation’s local employment office or EFMP Family Support. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Military OneSource Special Needs Consultant in-person or via phone or live chat.

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