by Amina Donna Kruck
VP of Advocacy, Ability360
While I am glad that National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the contributions that Americans with disabilities can make in the workforce, I am appalled that after 70 years, the unemployment rate is still so high. Tim Stump, Arizona Rehabilitation Services, tells me that there are plenty of jobs out there and employers willing to employ Arizonans with disabilities. Job fairs are happening every month, giving job seekers access to employers. Why aren’t more people employed then? Years of working in the field and my own experience working my way off Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have illustrated several reasons: fears and lack of confidence; complicated benefit rules; lack of job skills; and lack of job search skills. This is what I have to say about fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear of losing “benefits”, especially health care. Fear of failure. Fear of not being able to manage work and disability. We need to think of ourselves as employees who have disabilities to manage, rather than as persons with medical conditions.
Ability360 has several programs to help job seekers. We are proud to announce that we have received a renewal of our Work Incentive Information Network contract with AHCCCS and the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to continue to educate service providers, families and beneficiaries about the SSA Work Incentives and to staff the DB101 website help line. We are also proud to announce that we have received a continuation of our SSA cooperative agreement to continue to provide Work Incentive Planning and Assistance services to help SSI and SSDI beneficiaries understand the work incentives and support their work efforts. Ability360 also has one of the most successful Employment Networks in the country to help SSA beneficiaries seeking to work their way to financial independence find and maintain employment.
This issue of LivAbility provides helpful resources from experts in the employment field to help job seekers, including how to use the American Job Centers – Career One Stops, tips for effective use of job fairs and interview tips. The good news is that many job seekers without disabilities are not much better at job seeking than their non-disabled peers. These articles can give you the advantage!
Labor Force Participation
- People with Disabilities: 19.8%
- People without Disabilities: 69.0%
- People with Disabilities: 10.4%
- People without Disabilities: 5.4%
July 2015 from Department of Labor,
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Find thousands of resources on benefits, civil rights, community life (including the Independent Living Movement), education, emergency preparedness, employment, health, housing, technology and transportation for people with disabilities, their families, veterans, educators, employers and others.
www.dol.gov/odep & www.disability.gov
Learning about the Social Security Administration (SSA) work incentives and using the www.az.db101.org online calculators can help relieve fears about going to work and demonstrate how work pays.
Amina Kruck is Vice President of Advocacy programs at Ability360. Kruck is a state Professional Licensed Counselor with a master’s of Counseling from ASU. She empowers individuals with disabilities and their families through advocacy related workshops, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating wellness groups, providing technical assistance for the development of consumer-driven initiatives, and developing community partnerships to address barriers to consumer choice, equal rights and self-determination. Kruck also provides workshops on the legislative process, disability oppression and self-advocacy skills.