Dana Pollard will start a new job at the end of 2022 after spending three years recovering from a stroke in 2019.
Pollard, 56, lives with his wife in Fort Worth, Texas. After her stroke, he failed to recognize her. He could not remember things and was partially paralyzed on one side of his body.
After months of physical and speech therapy, with the help of medication, Pollard’s condition stabilized. His doctor told him that severe stress can still trigger seizures, but Pollard is managing it well.
Prior to Stroke, Pollard managed approximately 6,000 employees as director of research. In his new role as Recruitment Manager at Tarrant Windows and Siding, he oversees 15 of his 10 people who visit homes to promote and sell the company’s products and services. His day-to-day responsibilities include recruiting and training job seekers, and taking a short walk every now and then.
““Many places do not have the facilities or educational tools to help people with disabilities return to work.””
The responsibilities and physical labor required are far less than what his previous job demanded, but Pollard said the new position was a good fit given his condition and good for his recovery. I said yes.
“I can’t be a high-level executive anymore. I can’t think that fast anymore,” Pollard said. “I’m not that person anymore. Not yet.”
His experience and reputation in the industry helped him get the job, but Pollard said it was still a long process before he was hired.
“In many places, there are no facilities to help people with disabilities return to work, no educational tools. Told.
“I just happened to be qualified for this job because of my background, but I never got hired for my previous job,” he added.
Unemployment among disabled workers is high
Many people with disabilities face serious difficulties in finding work. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities was his 6% in November, down from 10.8% for him in 2021, but still higher than the 3.3% unemployment rate for people without disabilities, according to government data.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a disabling event in its own right. An expert at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, citing data analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he estimated that one in five people infected with COVID-19 had long-term effects known as her COVID-19. said to have experienced Estimates of her COVID prevalence over time vary, he notes, the CDC. Symptoms vary in severity and include difficulty breathing, disabling fatigue, and brain fog.
The Keenan Institute for Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina estimates that about 15 million working-age Americans will at some point deal with the long-term effects of COVID, with 1.8 million of them unable to work. Another report released in July by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that 26% of long-haul COVID-19 travelers said their condition had a negative impact on their employment or working hours.
But the pandemic is also pushing employers to become more flexible and more inclusive, and to better accommodate the needs of workers with long-term COVID-19 and other disabilities, experts said.
So, will 2023 be the year that more people with disabilities get jobs?
It’s a myth that workers with disabilities, especially those enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, don’t want to be in the workforce, said Diane Winiarski, director of Allsup Employment Services. .
“They absolutely want to go back to work. They want to be given the opportunity,” she told MarketWatch.
Inflation puts pressure on people with chronic diseases
SSDI and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are two social security programs that provide financial assistance to people with health conditions that prevent them from working. SSDI is for people who have worked before and provides monthly benefits based on previous job income, while SSI does not require prior work experience.
Such health conditions include chronic illnesses, including long-term COVID. The Social Security Administration’s Annual Cost of Living Adjustment tracks changes in consumer prices from year to year.
For those receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, an 8.7% increase in monthly benefits was applied starting January 1, according to the Social Security Administration. This increase means that the average monthly SSDI benefit for a disabled worker increases by $119 for her to $1,483 for him.
But for many, that support barely covers the cost of living. Terry Wilcox, CEO of Patients Rising, a group that advocates for people with chronic conditions, said this is especially true for people who need to pay for medicines, caregivers and transportation to see a doctor. .
Many people with chronic illnesses are unable to work side jobs or spend extra time due to physical limitations, Wilcox added. and limited disposable income.
“Anyone who knows anything about SSDI knows it’s not what most of us would consider a livable wage,” says Wilcox.
Inflation in the United States reached its highest level in 40 years last June, putting pressure on American budgets. The year-on-year rise in the cost of living shows some signs of slowing, but it was still 7.1% year-on-year in November. In October, several low-income households told MarketWatch they couldn’t afford meat, while others said they had to juggle utility bills and grocery bills.
Remote work has helped make the workplace more inclusive
Workplaces have become more flexible and, in some ways, more inclusive of workers who could not work in offices before the pandemic, as a result of the pandemic, says the Kessler Foundation, a research and philanthropic organization. According to recent research, people with disabilities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has positively impacted the use of disability-related employment practices by drawing more attention to adaptive processes and increasing the use of remote work, flexible work schedules and job sharing.” said study co-author and economics professor Andrew Houtenville. Director of Research at the Institute for Disability, University of New Hampshire.
While all workers have benefited from expanded flexible working arrangements, many of these changes are especially important for employees with disabilities, he said.
The labor market will remain tight in 2023, according to recent reports on employment and workplace trends from Indeed and Glassdoor. Employers are looking to an often-overlooked pool of workers, such as those with disabilities and those with criminal records, and are working to accommodate these workers by adopting flexible work policies. The report says more needs to be done.
Winiarski recommends that employers test the waters and perhaps reassign workers to different jobs or split out non-essential roles. “We encourage part-time work and gradually increase hours,” she said.
Employment support makes a difference
Workers with disabilities face a range of challenges when it comes to finding work, Winiarski said. But for those using SSDI, the first challenge is often overcoming fear and helplessness, she added.
Two years after his stroke, Pollard wanted to go back to work but didn’t know how. At the time, he was still using a cane, and although his cognitive abilities slowly improved, he hadn’t returned to normal, and he wanted to take “baby steps.”
Pollard signed up to work with a company that helped people like him find jobs.
“They didn’t know how to help me,” Pollard said of the company. . [carry a] The welder and I, really? There is no way I can do these jobs,” he said.
He ended up in his current job after working for Allsup Employment Services, which specializes in helping people with disabilities return to work. Allsup works through Social Security’s Ticket to Work, a free program for people on disability benefits.
At Allsup, Pollard was assigned a case manager to provide guidance and help prepare for interviews. He and his case manager were a “dynamic duo,” Pollard said.
Pollard said having people who seemed to understand what he was going through made all the difference when it came to finding a job. He said. “They are listening to you.”