DRC attorney Danielle Portal gives an overview of some of the work incentives and programs available to Social Security disability recipients who want to return to work.
Know Your Employment Rights
People with disabilities have the right to be free from discrimination in employment in the hiring process, during employment, and in the termination of employment. An employer is not allowed to ask a job applicant whether they have a disability or ask questions meant to elicit information about whether the applicant has a disability. Once hired, an employee cannot take an adverse action against an employee on the basis that the employer knows or suspects that the employee has a disability. An employee with a disability has the right to reasonable accommodations that are necessary due to a disability so long as the employee is still able to perform the essential functions of the job. Examples of reasonable accommodations include assistive technology like talk-to-text software, taking additional breaks to relieve pain or handle medical issues, or providing a sign language interpreter.
There are services available to help people with disabilities find and keep employment. NH Vocational Rehabilitation receives federal funding to help people with disabilities find competitive, integrated employment by providing rehabilitation services to eligible customers. Community Mental Health Centers can provide support to people with mental health conditions to find employment when their mental health condition prevents the client from finding a job independently. Area agencies provide services to people with developmental disabilities and/or brain injuries who need supported employment.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that prohibits employers with 15 or more employees and state and local government employers from discriminating against people with disabilities. There is a similar federal law that protects federal employees.
New Hampshire also has an anti-discrimination law that applies to employers with 6 or more employees and our state government.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides federal funding to state vocational rehabilitation agencies to help people with disabilities find competitive, integrated employment. WIOA places specific requirements on the state agency about how they can use those funds.
How We Can Help
We provide legal advice on employment discrimination issues, how returning to work affects Social Security benefits, and access to services from NH vocational rehabilitation, community mental health services, and area agencies. We work to remove barriers to employment for people receiving SSI or SSDI due to a disability.
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For employers and employees: Job Accommodations Network (JAN)
To apply for services from NH Vocational Rehabilitation, contact your local office
DRC-NH Flyer: Social Security Overpayments
Sherri, who is legally blind, fulfilled her dream of becoming a realtor.