Employment and Training Programs for People with Disabilities

Under the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) promotes jobs for people with disabilities by influencing policies and practices in the nation’s workforce.

By fostering an educational platform, more jobs are filled by competent and hardworking individuals who qualify for employment and want to work. Both private sector and government jobs for disabled individuals are highlighted by the ODEP, which strives to create a path for employable individuals and employers who need to fill job positions.

By administering and supporting work programs for disabled adults and youth, the ODEP helps shed light on industries where workers with disabilities can thrive. Through their employment services, ODEP helps disabled individuals gain confidence and provides support for them as well. Below is a guide to these programs and support efforts of the ODEP. In addition, other vocational training and employment services and programs that cultivate a place for disabled workers in both the government and private sectors workforces are described here.

Employment and Training Administration’s Job Training for Disabled Adults

The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) supports programs offering vocational training to disabled adults and employment assistance to individuals with disabilities. Some of the work programs offered by the ETA and policies they support are listed below.

The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program

Ticket to Work offers vocational training to disabled adults, as well as rehabilitation services and other support needed for disabled individuals to regain, obtain or maintain an employed position as opposed to receiving benefits. This program is a disability employment service for people 18 through 64 years of age who receive Social Security benefits but wish to improve their earning potential in an income-based job.

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Ticket to Work helps applicants explore possible jobs and careers and gain work experience while allowing them to continue to receive benefits. In fact, benefits, including healthcare, usually continue through the transition to employment. Furthermore, if participants are unable to continue in their job, protections remain in place for benefits to return if employment ends.

Disability employment services offered under the Ticket to Work program are as follows:

  • Workforce Employment Networks (ENs): ENs are state or local organizations that may be public or private offering disability employment services such as training programs, youth and veterans in transition and career planning services to Social Security beneficiaries. ENs may also provide support for ongoing employment and other services.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies: State VR agencies offer intensive job training for disabled adults, as well as rehabilitation, education, career counseling, benefits counseling and job placement services designed to assist disabled individuals in entering or returning to the workforce.
  • Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA): WIPA organizations provide free counseling to disabled workers receiving Social Security benefits. WIPA help individuals make informed decisions regarding work and earning money as it affects their disability benefits.

Workforce Recruitment Program Disability Employment Services

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) helps fill jobs for people with disabilities who are college students or recent college graduates. Managed by the ODEP and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Diversity Management & Equal Opportunity (ODMEO), the WRP is a referral and recruitment program that links private sector and federal employers across the country with highly motivated recent college graduates and college students with disabilities. This program helps fill summer, temporary, permanent and part time jobs for people with disabilities who are eager to put their abilities to use in the workforce.

Disability Employment Services for Youth and Young Adults

Federal work programs for disabled young adults and youth provide disability employment support for younger individuals looking to join the workforce. Below are two programs offering disability employment services to younger age groups.

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability Employment Services for Youth

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) assists in finding vocational training for disabled youth via work-based learning experiences, summer jobs and employment in general. This work program for disabled youth provides leadership and youth development resources and job opportunities for young people with disabilities who want to work and are capable of employment.

JobCorps Vocational Training for Disabled Young Adults

The JobCorps also offers job training for disabled adults 18 to 24 years of age. This work program offers job training and residential accommodations, as well as other benefits such as a living allowance and health benefits.

Government Jobs For Disabled Individuals

Government jobs for disabled individuals are readily available due to increasing efforts by the federal government to recruit and employ disabled workers at all levels and occupations. Many government agencies such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer disability job openings frequently.  Disability employment services aid people with disabilities in securing employment with the federal government. There are several programs in place to stimulate disability employment in all government agencies across the country. Below are some work programs for disabled adults to assist disabled individuals in obtaining government jobs.

Getting Government Disability Jobs Under the Schedule A Hiring Authority

The Schedule A Hiring Authority, known as Schedule A, expedites the hiring process for government jobs for disabled individuals seeking employment with the government. Eligible disability job applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Individuals must be qualified for the position with knowledge and skills, as well as abilities, to perform the duties required of the job.
  • Individuals must be able to prove their disability. This requirement is satisfied via letter stating the disability. The letter must be from a licensed medical professional (e.g. doctor, rehabilitation specialist, etc.) or entity issuing disability benefits.

By filling government job openings for disabled individuals, positions are filled sooner than they typically would be via the standard timely and competitive hiring process. If an agency does not offer jobs for people with disabilities under Schedule A, disabled applicants may still qualify for an open position. Note that qualifying for Schedule A does not ensure employment. Eligible applicants can apply for disability jobs within the government under the Schedule A Hiring Authority by following the steps below.

  1. Select an open position at USAJobs or the agency’s website. Government jobs for disabled individuals are indicated by a blue disability icon. Job seekers can filter job listings to display only disability jobs in search results.
  2. Obtain proof of disability.
  3. Prepare a resume, application and any additional documents required in the job description.
  4. Apply for the position via the job listing at USAJobs or the agency’s website.
  5. Follow up with the Disability Program Manager (DPM), Selective Placement Program Coordinator (SPPC), Special Emphasis Program Manager (SEPM) or equivalent contact at the hiring agency. Note that this part of the process may take additional time.

Vocational Training for Disabled Veterans

If you are in search of job training for disabled veterans for yourself or someone you know, there are several government programs that can provide this service. For instance, job training for disabled veterans is available through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E). This program is offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and provides employment accommodations, job training, job-seeking assistance, career counseling and other services to eligible disabled veterans. Other disability employment services for veterans include veteran entrepreneur programs and special hiring authorities for veterans disabled in service.

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