The Social Security Administration isn’t the only federal agency concerned with disability issues in America. Last week, U.S. assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez announced that Oregon was one of the three states chosen to receive a federal grant to place individuals with disabilities in jobs at mainstream workplaces where the majority of employees do not have disabilities.
Although the award amount of $100,000 may not be enough, it is nonetheless good news for people who’ve received Social Security disability insurance benefits for a time, but who have also regained an ability to work.
Evidence that such a program is necessary can be seen in Labor Department statistics showing that the unemployment rate among disabled individuals who are ready, willing and able to work is nearly two times higher than the rate for the general population of workers.
In a conference call made after the official announcement, Martinez said “(i)t’s time to move beyond the stereotypes and misconceptions that people cannot work, because we know that people with significant disabilities can work.” She also emphasized the role of technology plays in helping disabled individuals stay connected in their communities and workplaces and will play in the state’s program.
Oregon’s Department of Human Services — through its Office of Developmental Disability Services — will oversee the new initiative, which is scheduled to include another federal grant next year.
While this story isn’t directly related to the SSA or its disability benefits programs, we have seen many people with disabilities regain at least some ability to work and thought it a bright spot worth mentioning.
Source: Statesman Journal, “Federal grant will help state find mainstream jobs for disabled people,” Peter Wong, April 2, 2012