Each July we celebrate the anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence as a nation rooted in freedom and self-determination. We also celebrate a major milestone in affirming its core principles: the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990.
We know for many people in this country, work can bring about economic empowerment, which can help a person exert their agency, and the ADA says Americans with disabilities have the same right as all Americans to pursue that economic empowerment. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people — including many Americans with disabilities — must make employment decisions based on new economic realities. This may be particularly true for young people with disabilities just starting out in the workforce.
Regardless of what career stage they are in, job seekers with disabilities need clear and accurate information to understand their options. To help, a new resource, Secure Your Financial Future: A Toolkit for Individuals with Disabilities, explores common concerns and provides resources for people with disabilities as they strive to obtain or maintain employment and the financial stability and freedom it provides.
The toolkit is organized around the five stages of the employment lifecycle:
1. Preparing for a job.
Resources in this section are for people of all ages who are entering the workforce for the first time. This section addresses budgeting, how much someone needs to earn and the impact work will have on any public benefits they currently receive.
2. Starting a job.
When someone gets a job, they have decisions to make about their new pay and benefits, if and when to disclose a disability, and how to save for retirement. The resources in this section help people navigate those choices.
3. Maintaining a job.
The longer someone works for an organization, the more likely they are to receive a raise or promotion. Over time, they may also experience new needs for accommodations, whether due to a new disability, because they have changing responsibilities or because COVID-19 restrictions have changed the nature of their work. This section provides resources to help workers maintain a job, including how to request accommodations to help them perform their best.
4. Changing or losing a job
Many people, both with and without disabilities, have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. This section covers options for future directions.
Planning for retirement can come with a lot of questions. This section helps people understand employer-sponsored retirement and healthcare benefits, and other savings programs.
We all need clear and accurate information to secure our financial well-being, especially in uncertain times and periods of transition. The toolkit provides a path forward for people to determine and achieve their personal financial goals in the months and years ahead.
Secure Your Financial Future: A Toolkit for Individuals with Disabilities was developed collaboratively by the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and its Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Jennifer Sheehy is the deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Ali Khawar is the acting assistant secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration.