Works for me campaign will expand awareness about how people with disabilities can join the workforce.
Launching in October to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the campaign will respond to what research has found to be several of the greatest barriers to employment among individuals with disabilities, the fear and/or misunderstanding of not receiving the support or training needed to obtain a job or losing financial security and health care benefits if employment is achieved.
"People with disabilities may be able to join the workforce and increase their financial well being," according to John Miller, AHEDD Vice President. "The Social Security Administration and PA Department of Public Welfare have made improvements to policies and introduced new initiatives to promote employment. These efforts complement existing resources and services provided by the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Career Link system. There are numerous options available to help individuals find employment and increase their financial well being. "Works for me" helps individuals navigate what is sometimes a confusing system."
"Works for me" is a resource for people with any kind of disability including mental health, physical, sensory or developmental. Through a Hotline number (1-866-902-4333 ext. 192), an individual can quickly and easily connect with a coordinator to determine which program is best for them and receive the guidance they need to make a decision about employment. Information is also available at www.WorksForMe-PA.org
In Pennsylvania, there are over 530,000 working aged individuals with disabilities (ages 18-64), and over 60,000 youth receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration. According to a National Beneficiary Survey conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, 44% of beneficiaries reported a goal of getting a job or a better paying job within the next five years. Of these, over half were working or actively seeking employment during the prior year of the survey. This study and related initiatives contrast a common stereotype that people with disabilities can not work and will rely on government benefits for their entire life. According to Miller, "this represents a profound economic development opportunity for the state and local communities."
On an individual level, there are countless benefits associated with employment for people with disabilities. "Employment gives a sense of purpose, pride, accomplishment and becomes part of a person's identity," he explained. "It provides an opportunity to take part in the community, develop new relationships and give back to society." The "Works for me" program will encourage those who want to be employed and have the drive and motivation to join the workforce to do so without facing intimidation from complex and confusing rules and other barriers.