National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed in October to recognize the significant contributions made by people with disabilities to the American economy. Those without disabilities are three times more likely to be employed than those with disabilities. In the United States, 19.1% of people with a disability worked last year. Unfortunately, I am not one of the 19.1%
Employers are often interested in hiring me until I disclose my Cerebral Palsy. This is illegal, but it happens anyway. I’ve had employers rescind interviews after I disclose my disability. The manager of a local Homewood Suites hotel rescinded my interview after I told her that I had Cerebral Palsy. I was turned down from a local gym because I can’t lift 30 lbs.
Another barrier to employment for people like me is access to a caregiver during work. 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. My request for this accommodation is always denied when I bring it up with employers.
The lack 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 while at work is also a barrier to employment for people like me who rely on caregivers for daily living activities. Without access to a PCA, I couldn’t work. Working full-time without using the restroom would be virtually impossible.
I also rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of my personal care assistants. Many people with disabilities rely on Medicaid because they are unable to find other forms of health insurance or because their other insurance does not cover the services they need. For example, personal care attendants like those I need to get out of bed, put on clothing, and take a shower are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. Without Medicaid, my home care would be more than $50,000 annually. I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket for my care. I have no choice but to stay within these programs’ income and resource limits.
I hope to be able to work someday. I want to be a writer. Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers for those with disabilities when it comes to employment. This National Disability Employment Awareness Month, let’s focus on why millions of disabled people in the United States are unemployed.
Franklin, Eric. “Post Celebrates Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Fort Hood Sentinel, Temple Daily Telegram, 22 Sept. 2022, http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/news/post-celebrates-disability-employment-awareness-month/article_16bb90c0-39dc-11ed-ba14-0f1e135c2118.html.
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.