Lesson 1. Why people work

Let’s answer a question: Why do people work? That’s an easy one. People work to make money. They need money for food, for rent, and to have fun with their friends and family. 

But money isn’t the only reason to work. Working can also give you more independence and more control over your own life. When you work, you are learning new things, getting more skills, and making friends with people you meet through your job.

Another reason why people work is to contribute to society. This means that jobs exist not only for your benefit, but jobs also let you help others. For example, let’s say I have a job in an office delivering the mail. I’m helping the whole office save time and get stuff done.

 

Myths about people with disabilities and work

Some people may tell you that people with disabilities cannot work. This is not true! But, here are some common things you may hear. These are called “myths.” A myth is an untrue story or idea that gets repeated so much that many people think it is true.

 

Myth#1:  If you work in the community, you will lose your benefits.

Two type of benefits that people with disabilities may receive are Supplemental Security Income (called SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (called SSDI). Both programs have rules that let you try working without worrying about losing your benefit payments. There are a lot of resources to help you figure out what benefits you may still need once you are working. It is important that you talk to someone that can get to know you and your individual situation.

Here is a list of some resources.

What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18 [PDF]

Work Incentives - General Information

Disability Benefits 101

 

Myth#2: You will never see your friends at the workshop again.

Yes, you may miss your friends that are still in the workshop. You will not be working alongside them anymore. But you can visit with them at their home or yours after work or on the weekends.

Also, remember that you can make friends at your new job. You can invite your co-workers to go out after work to eat and to spend time at a restaurant, a movie theater, a coffee shop, or another place. These outings can help you get to know your co-workers as friends.

Meeting new people and making new friends isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an important part of life that helps you grow as a person. And remember, meeting new people can lead to new opportunities and experiences. 

 

Myth #3: No one will hire you.

Both people with and without disabilities may fear that they won’t get hired for a job. And it’s true that you may have to look in many places before you find a job that’s right for you. But many people with disabilities have jobs they love, and jobs they are very good at, just like anyone else.

Later on, we will talk about what skills you can bring to a job. You’ll learn about figuring out what strengths you have, and how they can relate to a potential job. This, combined with a positive attitude and a belief in yourself, are all things that can help you get hired.

 

Myth #4:  You can’t get to work because nobody will drive you.

This is a common concern for people with disabilities. How will you get to work? As you will see throughout this curriculum, there may be many ways for people with disabilities to get to and from work. We’ll talk a lot more about this later.

 

Myth #5:  You are not ready to work.

A lot of people may think this before they get their first job. Getting your first job can be scary. But it’s important to believe that you can work. This curriculum will help you to list all the reasons you can work, and the steps you can take to help yourself find your first job.    


Sponsored by United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.

The EmployMe1st project is a joint project of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the  Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services.