If you have a spinal cord injury and are under the age of 30 years old, then this article is for you! Below are tips on the different options and services that are available to get you educated, trained, and employed with the support of free employment and benefits counselors. You do not have to do this alone.
Vocational State Programs
State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies are entities run by the state that focus on helping people with disabilities get back into the workforce. VR agencies provide people with disabilities with the necessary training and services to return to their workplace, enter a new field, or enter work for the first time. Common VR services include education, job training, career counseling, assistance with job placement, and benefits counseling.
Vocational State Programs are great resources when it comes to helping people with spinal cord injuries become qualified for finding work. Contact your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service Center nearest you today to see if you are eligible for support.
College Disability Support Services
Getting a college education can help immensely with finding employment. However, you don’t have to go through your college journey alone. There are many resources that you can utilize if you would like to pursue higher education at a college or university. All colleges and universities are required by law to have disability support services through their school. Typically, these resources are called Disability Services, Disability Resource Center, or the Office of Accessible Education. These services allow university officials and students with disabilities to work together to put accommodations in place to help the student complete their education.
Common accommodations students with spinal cord injuries request through their colleges are note-takers for lectures, extended time and a separate location for taking exams, and access to text-to-speech programs. By utilizing their college disability services, students with spinal cord injuries can acquire the services and accommodations they need to succeed in their college careers. All you have to do is register through your school’s support service as a student with a disability, and then you can start receiving accommodations. Ask your school’s disability support service workers what documentation is needed to register you as a student in need of disability services.
Student Earned Income Exclusion
Going to school or job training after high school can be expensive. That’s why finding work during your schooling or training process may be necessary to keep up with your expenses. If you are below the age of 22, attend school or job training, and receive SSI benefits through the government, you are eligible to participate in the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) work incentive program.
When you participate in SEIE, Social Security will lower your countable income by deducting part of your earnings from your job. Social Security does this so you can keep most, if not all, of your cash payment through SSI while still having the opportunity to make money through working. This can maximize your total income and increase your financial independence. For more information on the Student Earned Income Exclusion program, visit the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov. A trained benefits counselor can also help you through the SEIE process.
Work Incentives Planning & Assistance
Work Incentives Planning & Assistance projects, or WIPA projects, provide free benefits counseling to people who receive Social Security disability benefits. The goal of WIPA projects is to help people with disabilities make informed decisions about employment and while considering how a job income may affect their benefits.
With a WIPA, you can learn more about different programs, such as Ticket to Work and Work Incentives, to see if they are right for you. You can receive consultation on what to do when you are looking to work while still keeping your benefits through the state. WIPA projects help people at all stages of the employment process, whether they are looking for a job, waiting on a job offer, or already working. If you are already working, WIPA can provide you with advice on how to move towards financial independence. WIPA projects can serve as great resources for all eligible people with spinal cord injuries.
Ticket to Work
The Ticket to Work program is a free, voluntary program for people from the ages of 18 to 64 who want to find work and who receive Social Security Disability benefits through the government. Through the Ticket to Work program, people with disabilities are given access to an employment team and a benefits counselor to help them through the path of finding employment.
Your employment team can help you identify your technical skills, recognize your career goals, develop your resume, and find opportunities for employment and training. Ticket to Work employment teams often find you state vocational programs that would help you advance your skills. Your benefits counselors can help you navigate the process of work while also receiving state disability benefits. The goal of a benefits counselor is to maximize your benefits while you are working and to track how your job income may affect your benefits through the state. These services can be incredibly helpful for young people with spinal cord injuries who wish to work. Visit the Social Security website for more information on the Ticket to Work program.
Finding a job and going into the workforce as a worker with a spinal cord injury can be hard, but you do not have to do it alone. There are many free resources at your disposal that are designed to help people with spinal cord injuries go to work. If you have questions about any of the programs listed above, or about entering the employment field with a spinal cord injury, contact us today.