January 11, 2023

How To Navigate A Job Search For People With Disabilities

Even with years of progress, the job market can still feel unfair for Americans with disabilities. If you have a disability and are eligible for the Ticket to Work Program, you may encounter stereotypes and even discrimination in your job search. Still, you can make it through the challenges and find a job that fits your passions.

We at Allsup Employee Services (AES) help former workers with disabilities return to work. At AES, we provide free services to beneficiaries through the Ticket to Work program. We also aim to deliver resources and services nationwide to help Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients. As people with disabilities, our clients are among the hardest workers but, at times, may struggle to navigate a job search when they’re ready to return to work. SSDI and work go hand in hand. When looking for a job, you don't have to settle for one that doesn’t accommodate your abilities. Here's how.

Focus On Your Strengths

Your disability does not define you. As an SSDI recipient with a Ticket to Work, what is important during your return to work after a disability? Your job search is a time to focus on your strengths and valuable skills. Include these strengths in your cover letter and resume.

Outline in your materials and when interviewing how your experience prepares you for the new position and how you have created measurable results. For example, you may have helped increase an employer’s cash flow or improved customer happiness scores. These past victories show that you are more than capable of succeeding in a future role and can help you navigate the job market.

When considering a return to work, your past experience carries important value. Your education, prior volunteer experience, and hobbies are invaluable, even if you haven't worked for several years. As your medical condition stabilizes and you consider a return to work, a volunteer opportunity may also be another avenue to explore.

Defining yourself by the skills you have instead of your disability can make you more confident as you rejoin the workforce. As a recipient of SSDI, your experience is invaluable. Even if you have been out of work because of a severe medical condition, you have the potential to go back to a former employer when you look for a new position.

Specify What You Need To Be Successful

When you interview for a position with a visible disability, employers will probably ask about any accommodations you need to work. For example, you might need modifications such as screen-reading software, a standing desk, flexible work hours or a schedule with defined break periods, or the opportunity to work remotely.

There’s no need to feel guilty for asking for workplace accommodations. According a report from the Job Accommodation Network, many of these workplace accommodations cost less than $500, and more than half (57%) cost nothing. If an employer values your talents, they can make accommodations to support you.

Before applying, make sure you know exactly what you'll need so you can give a clear, honest answer during the interview. When working with AES, our customers receive help from their vocational case manager to prepare for these conversations with their employers. If you are a Social Security disability beneficiary who needs to know the rules for working while getting SSDI benefits, AES can help you to access vital benefits from the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work Program.

As you're looking for work, your vocational case manager will answer any questions you have about the Ticket to Work Program and help you with many aspects of job seeking, from updating your resume to submitting your earnings to the Social Security Administration.

Explain Gaps In Your Work History

The job market continues to evolve, and due to the coronavirus pandemic and economic forces, it is now common to have gaps in your work history. So while these periods require explanation, they do not need an apology. Good employers will understand your situation and look to the future instead of the past.

Stay Positive Throughout Your Job Search

The job market can be challenging for anyone, whether they have a disability or not. It's important to stay positive and use rejection as a learning opportunity. Stay focused on your long-term goals, and remain confident in your core strengths. These are essential parts of the job search process and can help you through tough periods.

It may also help to note that the work world is improving for job seekers with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate dropped by nearly 2 percentage points from August 2020 to August 2021. Basically, your chances of finding employment as someone with a disability are higher than ever compared to the past. Be encouraged as you send out resumes and submit applications.

Get Help From An Employment Network Like AES

Everyone seeking work after a disability has a story. Allsup Employment Services aims to learn your story and offers empathy and guidance for the journey ahead. AES is an SSA-authorized Employment Network, providing free services to beneficiaries through the Ticket to Work Program. Our professionals deliver resources and services nationwide to help SSDI recipients take full advantage of the incentives and support available when they return to work, including protecting their SSDI benefits and suspension of Continuing Disability Reviews.

AES experts help job seekers with landing their dream job and keeping their benefits.

Are you looking to return to work after getting SSDI benefits? To explore your options, learn more at AllsupEmploymentServices.com or @AllsupESWork.