Are you a young person with a disability who dreams of a career and independence? Do you believe having a disability doesn’t disqualify you from having a career or limit your potential to participate or contribute to your community? Do you want to earn money, build a career, and pursue your dreams? Today, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration – you may not be able to do these things that your peers without disabilities take for granted.
Initial SSI determination starts with a self assertion followed by an eligibility determination that an individual with a disability is not capable of working . This just isn’t true. Individuals with disabilities have a contribution to make to the workforce. It is high time that policies and programs that serve and support these individuals, at the very least, apply equitable resources to their employability.
Girl carrying sign that says “Employment=Empowerment.”
Photo Credit: NCIL
The truth is these changes aren’t likely unless youth with disabilities advocate that the SSI’s safety net also serve as a springboard for opportunity, employment and potential independence. Young people willing to test the boundaries and barriers of the last century and to push beyond limitations and work incapacities to a new world where employment and opportunity are available to all.
Today, individuals with disabilities exploring work must balance the need for financial assistance, health care, personal attendant care and accommodations while overcoming low cultural expectations, lack of employment experience, a challenging job market and employer discrimination. On top of that, the complexity of the system and disincentives resulting from reliance on vital health care resources and the inability to retain earned assets and remain SSI eligible often prove to be too challenging.
Modernizing a monolithic program like the traditional SSI program is certainly a challenge. Most who understand and maintain the status quo recognize the value of an alternative system for those that choose to step beyond the barriers of the last century into a new world where having a disability no longer means a life of dependence on family, friends and the current Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
CareerACCESS represents a bold person-centered approach for individuals who would qualify for SSI but who yearn for a career and ultimately independence. CareerACCESS starts with the assumption that having a disability does not mean that you cannot work or have a career. It proposes a menu of services and supports across federal agencies redirected to support employment as a path to independence.
The CareerACCESS initiative is a new approach designed for youth with disabilities in the pivotal years from 18 to 30. Plans are to pilot the program in 5 states to show the effectiveness of a new person- centered career-driven blend of services and supports offering an alternative pathway for individuals with disabilities who meet the traditional eligibility requirements for SSI except for work incapacity.
Are You Ready to Accept the Challenge? Join us in designing and championing this new alternative to the traditional SSI program.