Myth #1: I Can't Work because of My Disability

My doctor and other important people in my life have told me that I cannot work. They say it is too stressful and may make my condition worse.

It is true that your disability may affect the kinds of jobs you can do and the hours you are able to work. However, with the right preparation and support, many people with disabilities are succeeding at jobs that are satisfying and meaningful to them.

It is common to have fears about your ability to work. You may be nervous about leaving your house, getting to and from work, having new work-related expenses, and handling your new work schedule. It is normal to worry about these things, but there are many resources and laws that will help you.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities if they are qualified for a job. This includes all areas of employment, such as interviewing, hiring, firing, training, promotions, and benefits. Often, with reasonable accommodations you can be successful at more jobs than you may have thought possible. The ADA says that employers must offer reasonable accommodations, so that you can do your job. These accommodations vary from person to person, depending on each person’s needs and job setting. Read more about the ADA and reasonable accommodations in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' article on The ADA and Reasonable Accommodation.

Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)

Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) can help you prepare for, find, and keep work. The services vary from person to person, depending on each person’s needs. MRS works with you to figure out which services you need. You and a MRS counselor develop a plan to help you reach your work goals. If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), MRS is also an example of an agency where you can use your Ticket to Work. To apply for services, call or visit a MRS counselor at your local MRS office.

If you are blind, the Michigan Bureau of Service for Blind Persons (BSBP) offers similar services.

Job Coach

A job coach is a person who offers on-site training that lets you learn and do your job, helping you to adjust to the work environment. A job coach can help you with work-related problems, like how to talk to your boss about questions you have on the job and what accommodations you may need. You might have a job coach through your Ticket to Work program, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, or through another agency.

Disability Disclosure

People with disabilities often wonder if they should tell potential employers about their disability. And, if they do, should they talk about their disability during the interview, when they get a job offer, or after they have been hired? According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the only time you have to disclose your disability is if you need to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer to perform an essential function of your job. However, there are other reasons you may want, or not want, to disclose your disability. These vary from person to person and from situation to situation.

There are times when you may have no choice about disclosing your disability. For example, you may need to ask if the interview location is accessible or you may need an interpreter for the interview. If that’s the case, you need to carefully write a disclosure statement to the employer. Remember to focus on your abilities, not your disabilities.

For more information about disclosing your disability, check out the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).