Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Job Hunting in Today's World

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Job Hunting in Today's World

Article excerpt

Are you looking for a job? Where do you begin? What opportunities are available for you? What support systems will you have? What expenses might you have if you get a job? How will earning an income affect government benefits you may be receiving?

The job market for people with disabilities is Beginning--beginning--to look better. In the previous issue of this magazine, we discussed how the growing emphasis on meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities is pushing the development of new and improved vocational and residential opportunities for them as they transition from school into adulthood. In this article, we want to focus the light on employment, whether it be getting a first job or returning to work after an injury or illness.

"When it comes to job hunting and employment, there's a great deal to consider that's related to finances," says Kevin Paasch, a Special Care Planner with Commonwealth Financial Partners, LC (www.cfp-vip.com), in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a general agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). "If you don't have a financial strategy, it's a great time to begin putting one together. But if you do, it's important to review it with your financial professional before beginning your job search. Earning an income may affect government benefits you might be receiving, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as other aspects of your strategy." "If you receive government benefits, you should also talk to your case worker or a representative at your local Social Security Administration office," recommends Paasch. If you have expenses for assistive technology, which may be covered under your Medicare or Medicaid insurance, those expenses may not be included in a health insurance plan offered by an employer. However, you may qualify to continue to receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits. "Think, also, about other expenses you might have if you're employed," Paasch adds. "What products, services, or assistive technology will you need to get to and from work and perform the tasks of your job?" It helps to imagine yourself going through an ordinary day of work--waking, getting washed and dressed, having breakfast, traveling to work, doing your job, taking coffee and meal breaks, and coming home. Then think about the a-typical day, the expectations your employer might occasionally ask of you, such as travel, off-site meetings, or attending classes or training sessions.

Your expenses might include transportation, retrofitting a vehicle to make it accessible, meals, clothing or uniforms, parking, and the cost of a personal care assistant. If you're considering self-employment or working at home, you might have to purchase office equipment, business supplies, and furniture.

"The best recommendation I can make is to do your research," advises Paasch. "Learn about your rights as a worker who's disabled, know how to create a great resume and interview well, and research the programs, services, and employment opportunities that are available to you."

The following Web sites will help you to get started and provide information to key issues you may face. But it's by no means all-inclusive. As with most Web browsing, one site will lead you to many more that could be useful to you.

Your rights

www.ucp.org/ucp_channelsub.cfm/1/17/105

This is the United Cerebral Palsy Web site page with a list of and links to documents about the rights, concerns, and issues of workers with disabilities.

www.nichcy.org/laws/other/pages/ assistivetechnologyact.aspx

Find out everything you need to know about the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, which was last amended in 2004.

SSA benefits and programs

www.ssa.gov/work/receivingbenefits.html

If you're between 18 and 65 years old and receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, visit this site to learn more about the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Ticket to Work Program, its training and employment opportunities, and how your benefits might be affected if you work. …

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