Working When Disabled

By Allan Checkoway
Regrettably, Americans with disabilities are facing disproportionate higher rates of unemployment when compare to Americans without disabilities. Considering our modern day emphasis on nondiscrimination, equality and equal rights, anyone with a disability should have, to the maximum extent possible; the same opportunities as everyone else. Everyone should have the opportunity to live independently, participate in an active community life, and especially be able to engage in productive employment.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 20 percent of people with disabilities are employed or seeking employment compared to 69 percent of the population without disabilities. Of the disabled individual’s that are seeking employment, 15 percent have not been able to find work.

We don’t have the “luxury” of knowing exactly why anyone with a disability may not be employable. Yet, as a matter of fact, my personal experiences have proven to be the opposite. That is, in many situations, someone with a disability may well be a more desirable employee than someone who is not impaired in anyway.

Based on my employee benefit background specializing in disability and long term care coverages, I’m confident that someone with a disability would be most appreciative of a job opportunity. And that is why when we were looking for someone to do some telemarketing and customer service work; we actively sought out people who were disabled.

We hired someone who had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years before. Now that they had become familiar with their new found limitations, they were eager to become productive again. The bottom line, we were grateful and appreciative to have our newest employee representing our organization. Their own appreciation for a new found opportunity made them a most valuable asset. 


The DOL (Department of Labor) and CEA (White House Council of Economic Advisors) identified the employment levels of people with and without a disability. Based on 2010-2012 Census Bureau’s survey, only one-third (32%) of working age people with disabilities were employed vs. over two-thirds (72.7%) of people without disabilities. The DOL and CEA joint initiative referred to identified a growth opportunity for someone with a disability seeking employment in 2015 and beyond.

It was determined that “most job growth is in occupations where computer use is important”. In addition, they confirmed that “technology and corporate policies are also creating more possibilities for home-based and other flexible work arrangements that can especially benefit people with disabilities who deal with transportation difficulties and medical concerns.”


If you want to work but are not, I’m here today to offer some “food for thought”. If you’re presently utilizing a wheelchair, have you decided that working isn’t for you; either it would be too physically demanding or you already have enough income to live on? If you’re per chance collecting Social Security disability benefits, are you fearful of losing your Social Security benefits? If this is true, then it’s important to become familiar with the Social Security ‘Ticket to Work’ program.

The Social Security ‘Ticket to Work’ program is free and was designed to prevent the immediate loss of disability benefits and medical insurance. It has been described as a “safety net’ allowing you the opportunity to transition back to the work world again.

Please make sure that when seeking a job placement service that they are a Certified Social Security Administration (SSA) Employment Network participating in the Ticket-To-Work program.

The “good news” is that when researching return to work opportunities, I discovered; best described as women helping women. I came across a wonderful article authored by Lori Adler titled ‘My Story: Working at Home Can Change Your Life’. Lori has given us reprint permission of her story which follows:

I hated the inevitable question, “What do you do for a living?” I didn’t want to say that I was on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  I didn’t want to tell anyone that I did not have a job. But that was the truth. I had a disability, and it interfered with my ability to work locally.

This was a very hard time for me. I was always a good student, hard worker and a ‘go-getter’.  I had always worked since I was a teen. Now, I had too much time on my hands. I missed having a set routine. Moreover, I missed that feeling of being productive and the social interaction.

A few years went by and then I learned the Social Security Administration had created a free return-to-work program for people with disabilities, like me, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Even though I had not worked in a very long time, I still believed that I had abilities and skills to offer the working world.  I just had no idea how to go about getting a job or whether I could handle the “working world” again. Moreover, I was afraid. As much as I needed more money, I simply could not afford to lose my monthly cash or health benefits right away. I needed a chance to ‘try’ working.

However, this Social Security Administration return-to-work program, officially called the Ticket to Work program, was free, which made my ears perk up. They also told me I wouldn’t lose my cash benefits or medical care at once. It is a gradual program with a large safety net to allow me to ‘try’ to test the waters of working again and see how I would do.

If I wanted to try it out, all I had to do was contact an employment network (EN) that was certified to handle program participants. I called Employment Options because I liked the name. After I finished all my screenings, they told me I would be a good candidate for working from home.

At first, I didn’t think I was cut out for working from home because of my own fears, but then I began to realize what a great deal it was for people with disabilities and their employers.  American companies save on all the overhead, while the employee avoids all the cost and time of commuting. Plus, and perhaps most important, the work-space and work environment is already set up with accommodations for a person’s particular disability.

My disability is a hidden disability and working from home was my only option. Working from home through the Ticket to Work program has been life changing. I feel I got a second chance at a career because I had the professional help I needed to get a good job that fits my needs.

When I first became a client of Employment Options, I was scared and so many thoughts ran through my head. Could I do this?  Should I do this?  What about my benefits check? What about my Medicare?  The staff helped me fully understand the program so I felt comfortable.  My self-confidence gradually improved and I love my first Work at Home position because I felt like I had ‘back-up’ and support to help me in the job.

I am still a client of the Ticket to Work program and Employment Options today. However, now, I also work for Employment Options and help advocate for the program and the Work At Home services that changed my life.  I have been in the program several years and I have grown in my confidence and am gradually working toward self-sufficiency.

Many of the staff like myself receive disability benefits and are in the Ticket to work program.  We share our own stories to help our clients succeed!  For those who want to try to work again and receive SSDI/SSI, there is free help for you!

Ticket To Work gave me that cushion to transition back to work, which means now I can answer the question, “What do you for a living?” with a big smile!
Lori Adler is the Senior Marketing Liaison for Employment Options and also manages all their online events.  She loves helping others by talking about the Ticket to Work program and is happy to share her own story and answer questions about the program or provide free resources. Email:  or 800-441-3114 ext. 763

Resource: National Disability Institute
Allan Checkoway, RHU most recently authored “I’m Disabled . . . Now What?” , created for people whose lives have been impacted by changes in their overall health. Fortunately, our decades of experiences in working with people who have become disabled, sometimes ending up in long term care situations has given us a unique perspective that can benefit our readers. We’ve taken what we believe to be all the best up to date accessABLE resources from a multitude of resources, putting them all together in one place in “I’m Disabled . . . Now What?” and on our new website We are dedicated to helping restore active lifestyles. Allan is presently the Principal of Disability Services Group, an Employee Benefit Advisory firm. Allan’s  email: 


  1. Working while on inability may appear to be illogical since the reason for handicap advantages is to give salary to individuals who can't work. Be that as it may, in specific circumstances, working is not against Social Security's guidelines by help of thesis writing service.

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