Americans with disabilities staying in the workforce

Garden center worker in a wheelchair holding a flower pot in a greenhouseGardne center worker in a wheelchair holding a flower pot in a greenhouse

Garden center worker in a wheelchair holding a flower pot in a greenhouse

The numbers go hand-in-hand. With age, there is a larger likelihood of living with a disability.

According to a report produced by the Pew Research Center, nearly 50 percent of Americans 75 years of age and older live with a disability. That number drops to 25.4 percent for Americans ages 65-74 and 13 percent for those ages 35-64.

That doesn’t mean Americans with disabilities should leave the workforce as they age.

A number of programs, most notably the Senior Community Service Employment Program, help persons 55 or older get the additional training and job placement assistance necessary to live a productive full life. The program assists local agencies, such as the Northeast Independent Living Services, by having someone who is subsidized by the SCSEP program helping them fill positions they could not afford to pay for on their own. Program participants are provided an average of 20 hours per week of paid training.

Each participant works with a counselor to develop an employment plan with sets goals for the type of job desired and the steps necessary to meet those goals. While involved in the program, participants are offered an annual health screening, job skills training and support services.

The goal is for individuals with disabilities ages 55 and over to become employable and keep a job over time.

To be eligible, participants must be age 55 or over, unemployed at the time of the application, and cannot have income that exceeds 125% of the current federal poverty level (about $15,075.00 for a single person in 2017). Income that is excluded for purposes of the SCSEP program includes 25% of Social Security Income; unemployment benefits; SNAP (food stamp) benefits; housing benefits and certain payments to veterans.

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