Under federal law, employers are not permitted to ask about disabilities in a job interview, and applicants are not required to disclose them. Nevertheless, disabled workers in Georgia, including many disabled veterans, often face challenges when exploring the viability of returning to the workforce.
A recent article highlighted some of these issues. For example, many are uncertain about how employers will view their disability and have concerns about being able to fulfill all of the duties required by a job -- even with the assistance of reasonable work accommodations. Others may worry that a job might disqualify their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security disability benefits.
As a preliminary matter, accepting a job will not immediately result in a termination of disability benefits. Recipients can continue to receive SSI or SSDI benefits until their wage earnings or other source of income exceeds the applicable limits set by the Social Security Administration.
Yet disabled veterans, in particular, may fear that prospective employers will associate their military service with post-traumatic stress disorder, and refrain from hiring them -- even if their disability is unrelated to PTSD. Those fears may have some basis in fact, as a nationwide survey of HR professionals showed that managers felt that accommodating veterans with PTSD would take extra effort, and that those veterans could pose a threat.
Fortunately, there are several work incentives offered by the Social Security Administration which address some of the barriers to employment facing people with disabilities. One such program is called "Ticket to Work." The program actually provides a ticket to disabled workers, who can present it to any SSA-certified training provider in exchange for free services that may include career counseling, specialized training, job placement and ongoing support services.
The SSA also offers a trial work program, which permits disabled workers to explore the viability of returning to work without jeopardizing their benefits. Another work incentive permits disabled workers to subtract certain types of earnings from their gross income, which may mean continued eligibility for benefits. Yet another incentive, created by Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act, enables Medicaid recipients to continue receiving benefits even after their SSI payments have stopped due to employment earnings.
Source: Public Broadcasting Atlanta, "Vets' Job Hunt May Be Thwarted By Disability Bias," Aug. 21, 2012
· Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Augusta SSD and SSI Benefits Lawyer page.