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Work Toolkit:


The basics


Various supports can be used to help people succeed at work.

We all rely on supports to navigate the world and be successful at work. Considering which formal and informal supports can be beneficial is an important part of helping people be successful in thinking about, finding and maintaining employment. Explore common supports and potential funding sources below.

Natural (or informal) supports are freely given and available to people with or without disabilities to navigate the world. Natural supports can be especially helpful in building relationships and decreasing reliance on formal service systems. Because natural supports can help people feel more included, they can support higher job performance and retention.

Examples of natural supports
Natural supports in the work world include:

  • Friends and family sharing job openings or making introductions to an employer
  • Coworkers carpooling to help with transportation
  • Coworkers providing cues for breaks or inviting someone to lunch
  • Coworkers assisting with paperwork
  • Supervisors setting up work areas

Job coach fading
In some cases, a job coach (formal support) may be needed to help someone get set up at a job. Over time, however, the coach may provide less and less support as a person learns how to succeed at work and develops stronger natural supports. This is referred to as "fading." Others may need long-term formal job coaching supports.

Assistive technology is any technology or device that helps people with disabilities perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to perform. Examples include screen-reading software, electronic organizers, assistive listening devices and roll-in desks for wheelchair users.

The System of Technology to Achieve Results (STAR) program can provide access to assistive technology through device loan and demonstration services.

Minnesota CareerForce centers can also help people try out assistive technology. Find local Minnesota CareerForce locations.

Typically a person's employer pays for necessary assistive technology. If the assistive technology is too expensive for the employer or the person wants to keep the technology if they switch employers, consider alternative funding sources. For example:

  • Medical Assistance helps pay for assistive devices prescribed by a physician for a medical condition.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services funds assistive technology to help people with disabilities find, get and keep employment.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers funding for assistive technology for eligible veterans with disabilities.
  • Workers' compensation may pay for assistive technology for people with work-related injuries.
  • Social Security's Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a program for people who get SSI or SSDI. Through PASS, people can save money for assistive technology without losing eligibility for benefits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lays out workplace rights for people with disabilities. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in the workplace.

The ADA gives the right to reasonable accommodations for those who: 

  • Work for an employer with 15 or more employees (or a state or local government)
  • Have a disability as defined by the ADA
  • Need the accommodation because of the disability

For more information on the ADA and accommodations, check out job supports and accommodations from Disability Benefits 101.

Disclosing a disability
People have the right to choose whether to disclose their disability to their employer. Disclosing a disability can allow someone to request accommodations. The only question potential employers are allowed to ask regarding disability disclosure is if the person can perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodations. They cannot ask questions that would force someone to disclose their disability.

For a guide to help people decide whether to disclose a disability, see disclosure decisions to get the job (PDF) by Virginia Commonwealth University.

Requesting an accommodation
People with disabilities have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodations. Although accommodation requests don't have to be made in writing, it's always a good idea to document requests in case a dispute about the request arises. For more information on requesting accommodations, visit Job Accommodation Network's practical guide to requesting and negotiating accommodations.

More help on workplace accommodations, including individual consultation, is available through the Job Accommodation Network.

All public benefit programs in Minnesota have special rules that allow people with disabilities to keep their health care coverage, have more monthly income and maintain access to benefits while working. Still, the rules can be complicated — and misinformation is widespread. This is where benefits planning comes in.

Benefits planning is the person-centered process of reviewing and understanding the impact of work on public benefits. Benefits planning ensures that people with disabilities:

  • Have accurate information about current benefits and how to manage them
  • Understand what benefits are available and how to access them
  • Review and understand the impact of work on public benefits
  • Understand benefit work rules and how work impacts benefits
  • Request and implement work incentives
  • Build financial stability through work and saving

To learn more about benefits planning, check out our benefits planning toolkit.

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