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Few Work Opportunities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Individuals with intellectual disabilities face many challenges as a result of their conditions, including a pervasive difficulty in supporting themselves with paying employment. Despite billions of dollars in government programs designed to help people with intellectual disabilities enter the workforce, more than half of people in the U.S. who have an intellectual disability are not either working or currently looking for work. newspaper-job-section-276813-m.jpg

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits for people who have impaired cognitive or communicative functioning; who have IQs below a certain level; or who have severe impairments in their social and personal functioning. While these SSA benefits provide an important lifeline, providing work opportunities may be a better long-term solution for the disabled, who could support themselves with the right job and the right assistance. Further, those who are on the cusp of having a severe intellectual disability may not be able to qualify for SSD benefits but also may be unable to find gainful employment in a difficult job market.

If you or a loved one is intellectually disabled and you have difficulty qualifying for SSD benefits, a Boston disability rights attorney can help you to pursue your claim. An attorney can assist in the initial application or in appealing a denial or termination of disability benefits.

Work Opportunities for the Intellectually Disabled

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, just 44 percent of adults who have intellectual disabilities are currently in the labor force and are either working or seeking a job. An even lower percentage– 34 percent– actually have jobs at this time. This is a much lower percentage than the 73 percent of non-disabled working adults in the workforce. Among working-age adults who fit within the definition of disabled around 28 percent have not ever had a job at all.

While it is natural to expect that there would be fewer intellectually-disabled adults working than those without disability, it is troubling that there has been so little progress on getting the disabled working, even as billions of dollars are spent to do so. A professor from the University of Massachusetts conducted a study on the percentage of people with intellectual disabilities in the workforce and found that the percentage of working disabled individuals has not changed in four decades.

When calculating the percentage of adults with intellectual disabilities in the workforce, the definition of “disabled” is rather broad. Typically, it refers to someone with an IQ of 75 or less, and/or to someone who has limitations in basic life skills such as handling money. However, the term intellectually disabled can also apply to people with autism, as well as to conditions like Down Syndrome.

Many people who have these disabling conditions could do well in jobs, with studies showing that 62 percent of disabled people working in a competitive setting have been at their jobs for at least three years. This means that more should be done to get the disabled into employment positions that could allow them to become self-supporting or at least contribute to their own support.

Low expectations of people with intellectual disabilities is one problem that needs to be overcome. Disabled workers are also often segregated from the regular workforce, which can restrict opportunities and make it difficult to build skills. These obstacles must be addressed.

Until more people with intellectual disabilities are able to find work, they will continue to depend upon the Social Security Disability system as their only means of needed financial support. SSD benefits are enough to support most people, but the benefits are limited by your past income and/or state maximums.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Mays v. Colvin – Disproving Ability to Do Sedentary Work, Jan. 23, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Blog