Over the past three years, I have been looking for employment. I have filled out hundreds of job applications and haven’t found anything. Too often, employers don’t want to hire me once they find out I have Cerebral Palsy. However, if I land an interview, there is another barrier to employment for me. I require help with activities of daily living and hire PCAs to help me with bathing, using the bathroom, and getting dressed, among other tasks.
Whenever I bring this up to employers, my request for this accommodation is denied. The absence of coverage for the care required to get out of bed, get ready for the day, travel physically to and from work, and take care of personal needs during work is also a barrier to employment for persons like me who depend on caregivers for daily living tasks. Put simply; I wouldn’t be able to work without access to a PCA. Working 40 hours a week without using the restroom would be impossible.
I rely on Medicaid to pay for my PCAs as well. Many individuals with disabilities rely on Medicaid because they cannot obtain health insurance elsewhere or because their other insurance does not cover the services they require. Medicare and private insurance, for instance, don’t pay for home- and community-based services like the personal care attendants I require to get out of bed, put on clothes, and take a shower. My home care would cost more than $50,000 annually if Medicaid weren’t available. I couldn’t afford to pay for my care out of pocket. I have no choice but to stay within these programs’ income and resource limits.
There are numerous barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Without caregivers, many of us wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone go to work. Employers need to understand that caregiving can be inextricably linked to employment. The fact that people like me need help daily shouldn’t mean we can’t find work.