People with disabilities form an important part of any nation’s manpower. In the US, there are close to 50 million people with disability, a large majority of whom are on social security disability benefits.
A drawback of being on social benefits is that you will find it difficult to get back to work again, mainly due to the fear that you will no longer be eligible for government aid.
Despite many people staying away from being actively employed, a very large percent, close to 40% of disabled recipients want to get back to work.
Disabilities vary in their nature, extensiveness and impact. If you find that it will be difficult to accommodate your disability and go out for work, you can consider working from home as well. The convenience of home based jobs and businesses free you to continue with your medications and daily routine without suffering in any way.
Here are a few tips for you to make it easier to get back to work and slowly regain your financial independence and get off social security and insurance benefits.
1. Do Not Worry That a Job Will Take Away Your Benefits
As opposed to the common belief a job will not result in a complete and abrupt stoppage of all benefits. You will continue to receive benefits and support until you are continuously and gainfully employed for more than 9 months.
Gainful employment means that you must have a monthly income of over $1090. The SGA (substantial gainful activity) limit is $1820 if you are blind.
Trial Work Period (TWP) and Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) are other facilities that help you maintain your benefits and Medicare even after getting back to work.
The SSI offers Ticket to Work facility which put you in touch with an Employment Network Agency that helps you prepare for, get and excel in a job. In some cases, they will also help you complete certificate courses or get trained for suitable jobs.
So the best thing to do is get in touch with a benefits planner and work out a plan to start working again.
2. Consider Work-From-Home
Disability can sometimes hamper a person’s ability to work outside the home. You may need personal support or access to attendant care, timely medication or adequate rest between periods of activity, or you may be suffering from bouts of debilitating pain. Whatever the reason there are many instances where you can justify your need to work from home.
Many disabled workers prefer the safety of home-based work because lengthy commutes to workplaces can be difficult and dangerous. Also unpredictable weather and harsh climates are other factors that dissuade disabled and qualified people from working outside.
Working from home can solve most if not all of these problems.
Ensure that you have enough assistive technological support at home that allows you to perform at your best. Some employers will not be able to provide all the necessary support so check on how the gap can be bridged.
Many offices will also have accessibility issues that you will not face at home. This will actually help you deliver better outputs and thereby increases productivity.
3. Check Whether a Home-Based Job Is Suitable for You
A home-based work environment may not be the right choice for all.
If you feel that you require support from colleagues and supervisors, and may not enjoy being fully independent and away from office banter, then working from home may not be the right option for you.
You need to evaluate whether you can afford a dedicated space at home to be used as your home office. A home office should have enough storage space and facilities to help you set up a computer and other assistive tools.
Sometimes the employer provides the computer for you to work on, otherwise you need to find provisions to use your personal PC or buy one.
You will also need to be fairly competent in the use of computers and must be able to troubleshoot minor problems without having to access on-site support. If you are employed in your area of expertise or are well trained, then a home-based job can work out great for you.
Home-based businesses are also great for enterprising people who have at their fingertips the vast sea of opportunities that the Internet presents.
4. Ensure You Remain Connected
A job which requires you to stay at home all through the day can take a toll on your social life. You go out less, you meet less people and there are fewer avenues to socialize.
People working from home may suffer isolation and feel disconnected from the world outside, and the disabled may feel these emotions even more acutely. But you must not let it get to you.
You must always keep in mind that a robust, responsive and positive network is key to advancing and growing your career. Ensure that you are a part of professional organizations and communities. Attend seminars, trade shows, and conferences.
It is not enough if you are just a part of communities or local organizations. You also need to show up at networking events and if possible sign up to talk at debates and meetings. This will help others in your same field know about you and your work.
Also, there are professional forums and communities for disabled people, which you can leverage to build contacts and know more about opportunities and options available to you.
If you are managing a chronic condition, performing your job will itself be quite demanding. You may feel physically and mentally drained at the end of the day, but it is important that you remain in touch with the human aspects of the job, and build and maintain a responsive professional network. It will also help you move into more rewarding and satisfying roles in future.
You will see plenty of examples of people around you who use latest assistive gadgets like mobility scooters, freedom lifts, navigation devices and smart glasses to overcome their disability and build their professional network.
5. Be Aware of Your Rights
We have fairly strong disability laws and rights that allow you to work and excel in your workplace without facing any discrimination or bias.
Make sure that you are well-planned and well-prepared when applying for jobs. Stress on your strengths and capabilities. If you will require special accommodation at workplace discuss your needs with the employer.
The best and the biggest employers are all striving to make workplaces inclusive. If you feel you have relevant skills, now is the best time to strive for a job.
A disability might make many things tougher for you, but achieving and maintaining financial independence is not one among them. With the right amount of perseverance, determination and education you can very well build a rewarding career and enjoy life at your own terms.