Independent Living: Employment

 November 20, 2014
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC we strive to ensure that we provide our clients with the tools and resources to live fulfilling, successful, independent lives. We offer a wide array of services to help our clients help themselves. With our guidance, clients set and meet financial goals, ensure that their families are financially protected and secure both now and in the future,  and are able to navigate through the different (often complicated and confusing) steps of the special needs journey. We are also proud to say that we can now help our clients help their family member with special needs achieve independent living, either in an already existing housing/living program, or by creating their own housing model through the New Futures Initiative™ training. (Note: to learn more about our services, please click here.)

We also offer services that are directly related to employment – as financial professionals and parents of individuals with special needs, we are aware of and have had experience with the employment barriers that face individuals with disabilities. We are also keenly aware of how important employment can be for individuals with special needs. Employment is crucial to these individuals, both as a source of income and a way to integrate into the community, and has also been proven to be incredibly psychologically beneficial.

With all of this in mind, please join us as we discuss employment barriers in general, and shine light on an incredible new non-profit organization, BroadFutures, that helps individuals overcome these challenges.

Employment Barriers for Individuals with Disabilities

In 2007, the National Council on Disability released a report titled Empowerment for Americans with Disabilities: Breaking Barriers to Careers and Full Employment. In this report, the NCD examines challenges and barriers that face individuals with disabilities as they look for employment, examines employment policies, practices and types, and identifies “the best practices in the public and private sectors and the promising public policies and initiatives that facilitate an increase in employment opportunities for people with disabilities.” According to the NCD, the major reasons that contribute to the low employment rates fall into one of two categories. The first, Labor Supply, refers to the ability and willingness of individuals to be employment, while the second, Labor Demand, refers to willingness of employers to hire.

Labor Supply

The factors listed under “Labor Supply” include considerations such as the extra costs associated with going back to work, limited access to education and skills training, and concerns related to disability income and healthcare:

Extra cost of work: The typical costs associated with going to work may be higher for individuals with disabilities, and may pose an insurmountable barrier to acquiring employment. For example, transportation to and from the workplace – individuals with disabilities may require access to modified vehicles, a costly expense.

Limited Access to Education and Skills Training: Individuals who wish to acquire higher education and skills training face the same barriers trying to obtain this education as they do trying to obtain work; i.e. transportation, mobility issues, etc.

Disability Income and Healthcare concerns:  Many people with disabilities receive public disability income in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Such income is typically accompanied by health care through Medicare or Medicaid. People with disabilities are often reluctant to become employed for fear of jeopardizing these benefits, and research clearly shows that these benefits affect both labor market exits and return to work. (M&L can help you with this concern – please click here to learn more.)

Labor Demand

Factors listed under “labor demand” include employment discrimination, corporate culture, and a need for accommodations:

Employer discrimination: Many individuals with disabilities are unable to find employment due to lingering stereotypes and perceptions that individuals with disabilities are unable to perform job related tasks adequately.

Corporate Culture: Closely related to the first factor, NCD identifies corporate culture as a factor for low employment because “personnel managers and supervisors may be personally uncomfortable around people with disabilities, and this discomfort may be manifested in a reluctance to hire, retain, or promote.”

Need for Accommodations: “Title I of the ADA enhances access to employment for people with disabilities by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations. The requirement for reasonable accommodations has created concerns that employers may not hire people with disabilities because of the cost of accommodations.”

Helping Individuals with disabilities overcome employment barriers: BroadFutures

The number of employment barriers that face individuals with disabilities can be discouraging, however, there is a silver lining. A number of individuals and organizations in the disability community have been created specifically to address these barriers, and to provide the support and assistance that individuals with disabilities need as they attempt to enter the workforce. BroadFutures, a newly organized non-profit that has a mission to “advance the inherent potential of young adults with learning disabilities in the workforce through partnerships that foster independence, self-advocacy, and successful employment,” is one such organization.

According to BroadFutures founder, CEO and President Carolyn Jeppsen, the organization was born from the realization that as young people with disabilities age into adulthood, their services and supports fade away, but their disability does not. Jeppsen and the individuals that support BroadFutures envision an organization that focused on providing “transitional programs to empower [the] potential” of individuals with disabilities.

The BroadFutures model “employs a unique combination of holistic, individualized training and mentorship, coupled with paid internships. The program incorporates a focus on stress tolerance, flexibility and social supports. Workforce preparedness and effective communication are uniquely delivered through yoga, meditation, drama, and speech pathology, in addition to presentations from employers, individuals with disabilities in the workforce, peer mentors, and experts in various areas of workforce training.”

As mentioned, BroadFutures does offer paid internships. If you would like to learn more about this organization or the internships, visit their website, or contact Ms. Jeppsen via email,

Would you like help obtaining employment, or more information on how employment can help your family member with a disability? Let us know!

M&L founder and owner, Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC is a Certified Work Incentive Coordinator. In a nutshell, this means that Carney has been trained and can work in-depth with individuals who are working (or want to go to work), and have questions regarding their benefits and insurance eligibility.

So, how exactly can we help you? Carney – as a CWIC – has an extensive knowledge of the complexities of Social Security’s benefits. In fact, at M&L we help families with the application process for these benefits, and currently have a 100% success rate for 2013/14 (click here to learn more). Carney uses her CWIC training and her knowledge of these benefits to provide work-incentive planning and assistance directly to individuals with disabilities.  She can perform outreach efforts to individuals with disabilities (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs. CWICs also provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits coverage that may be offered by an employer of an individual with a disability, the extent to which other health benefits coverage may be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or Medicaid, and the availability of protection and advocacy services for beneficiaries with disabilities. She can also advise you as to how to access such services.

If you would like more information on anything we have covered in this blog, or would like to learn about any of the other services we offer please contact us. We love to hear from you.





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