1. Health

Employment Options for the Disabled


Updated October 16, 2011

Employment Options for the Disabled

Working at home is an option for the disabled

Sergey Khakimullin @ Dreamstime.com

Working a regular job isn’t a problem for everyone, but some disabled people cannot work, even when they want to. Reasons for their inability to work include side effects from medications to joint problems that cause frequent pain throughout the day. Many of these people want to work, but finding an employer who can accommodate their needs can be difficult, if not impossible.

Self Employment

Not everyone wants to work for themselves, partly because they’re concerned about the paperwork that may be required. For those who have an entrepreneurial spirit however, starting their own business may be the key to success without the worry of an unsympathetic employer. There are numerous jobs that can be done by individuals who want to be self-employed. Ideas for self-employment include customer service jobs, teaching online, security, data entry, counseling and just about any job that can be done on a computer or the Internet.

Freelancers can find work by doing searches on the Internet and networking with others in their field. Good places to network include college or university alumni groups, social networking websites for freelancers, online job boards and by advertising their services in local newspapers.

Job Sharing

Working a full time job in a traditional workplace may not be possible due to a disabling disease or medical condition. While not available at all businesses, some do offer job sharing as a way to retain employees and accommodate special needs. Job sharing means that two people share the same job; they cover the same hours as one person in their position normally would. The hours, and duties, are split between the two employees who have agreed to the arrangement. Those who job share should be able to communicate effectively so that the job requirements are always met.

This work situation is ideal for individuals that only have the energy to work a few hours each day, need to take medications that have negative side effects, or need to have medical treatments that make it impossible for them to go to work on consecutive days.


Telecommuting is becoming popular for businesses that depend on the Internet to keep skilled employees. Many jobs don’t require constant supervision, such as data entry, research, some customer service jobs and billing-related jobs. Telecommuting jobs fall into two categories – those where the employee comes to the workplace as required by the employer and those where the employee attends a training session, either online or in person, and never has to come back to the workplace again.

Telecommuting jobs are idea for people who are self-directed and need little supervision. The person who does this type of job can often select their own hours, as long as they work a certain number of hours per week.

Final Thought

The disabled may take advantage of these non-traditional work environments if they feel able. If you’re not sure whether you should try any of these arrangements, and you’re currently working for an employer, speak with the human resource office at your workplace. They may be willing to make a change in order to keep a valuable employee. If you’re not employed and are interested in working, speak with someone from the Ticket To Work Program at the Social Security Administration. This program has a variety of jobs available in your area and employers who are willing to try things differently to recruit and retain disabled employees.

If you’ve had experience working with employers who offered job-sharing or telecommuting, please share your experiences below. We’d also like to hear from disabled individuals who have had success starting their own businesses.

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