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    Career Success for Individuals with Disabilities

    Having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t also have a successful, fulfilling career. Programs, including accommodation and rehabilitation, exist to help you get back on the job or make the most of the job you have. What you need to do is determine which career fits you and how you can succeed in it.

    If You Have Prior Work Experience from Before You Were Disabled

    You will need to consider whether your job or career path is still a good match, and if accommodations can be made to allow you to continue in it. The Job Accommodations Network can provide you and your employer with ways to keep you in the job that you want to keep and continue to excel in, and your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services Department will have vocational counselors with the training to understand the impact of your disability on work.

    If You Don’t Have a Long Work History or Wish to Change Your Career Path

    This can be time for a fresh start, a chance to discover your passion.

    First, being as specific as possible, make a list of your skills. Then consider what barriers to employment that you may have.

    These questions will get you thinking about whether your disability is really a barrier to employment, or if what you need is more information about possible careers. The U.S. Department of Labor has a website, MyNextMove.org, that will walk you through the process of discovering your passion and career options, including labor market trends to help you find the best opportunities.

    Dealing with Benefits

    Regardless of how you move forward in your career, you will need to connect with your local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project to understand how working will affect your SSA disability benefits, plus connect you with plans and programs that can help you transition to independence and reach financial stability.

    Remember: This is your life and your career. You are the driving force behind your career success. There is help along the way—you can find the job and career path that’s right for you!

    Suzanne Paulson
    MS, CRC worked at the Iowa Department on Aging directing the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) before coming to work for Goodwill Industries International. Suzie was a Social Security Benefits planner under the Iowa Work Incentives Planning & Assistance Grant from 2006-2012. Suzie continues to donate some of her time to maintain the Iowa WINS web site at www.iowawins.org. This site is unique and offers SSI calculators that help individuals receiving SSI and working to understand exactly how their work activity will affect their cash benefit. Suzie has her Master’s Degree from Drake University in Rehabilitation/Mental Health Counseling and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). Suzie dedication to the field of disability comes not only from professional experience but originally from her personal experience. Suzie went back to school to get her bachelors and then her masters in 2002-6 after realizing that her husband’s brain injury from work in 1999 was going to prevent him from returning to full time employment. Suzie and her husband have 7 children ranging in age from 31 to 15 years of age.
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    • Eric Peterson
      August 27th, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Good basic advice. As a disabled worker I have learned learned is my talent must meet a market need. I can take a lot of classes to teach me skills, but those skills do not use my talent then I just gained book knowledge and not marketable skills. Disability or no disability I must develop my talent to meet market (peoples) needs.

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