Overcoming Barriers When Returning To Work

When a disability has forced you to take an extended leave of absence from work, there’s no telling when, or if, you will be able to return. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a position waiting for you, there is no guarantee that your condition will permit you to do the same job in the same way. 

This uncertainty can be daunting for people with disabilities who may be interested in getting back to work. While the path back to enjoyable and fulfilling work should be straightforward for those willing and able, there are still various external and internal barriers that can prevent someone with a disability from reclaiming their job.

Some of these barriers may be out of your control. For instance, you may have to contend with an employer who does not fully understand your disability or perhaps thinks that you are overstating or misrepresenting how it would affect your job performance. It is important to have as much official medical documentation about your disability on hand as possible so that you can present it to your employer if necessary.

Depending on your job and how long you have been out of work, you may also need to be trained or re-trained on certain skills that are necessary for the job you want. Technology advances quickly, and most companies expect their workers to be familiar with hardware and software programs that are the current industry standard. When having early discussions about heading back to work, try to clarify the technical and soft skills necessary for success, and seek out additional training or refresher courses if you need to. 

Other barriers may be internal, and these can sometimes seem even more challenging. For example, you may struggle with the prospect of adapting to a new work schedule after having spent months or more alone at home and worry you won’t be able to keep up. Or you might feel like you are giving up a certain sense of independence by taking or returning to a job where you report or answer to a boss or manager. 

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Similarly, you might be troubled by the thought of having to work as a part of a team in your new role. There are, unfortunately, many stigmas surrounding individuals with disabilities in the workplace, and the thought of facing those misconceptions from coworkers or a manager can be daunting. In addition, after being out of the workforce for some time, you may lack confidence in yourself and your ability to do the job as you want to or think you should.

Fortunately, if you are currently a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipient, fear of losing your benefits does not need to be a barrier to returning to work. With the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work (TTW) program, you can continue collecting your benefits even once you have started back to work with their trial work period.

Use all the resources you may have at your disposal to help you figure out what barriers you might face in returning to work. These can include discussing alternatives and ideas with friends and family who know you best, as well as former coworkers or managers. You can also definitely consider using an Employment Network. Job placement  at Employment Networks can help by providing you with invaluable information and support, including answering any questions you have about the SSA’s trial work period and its work incentives. 

They can advise you how to broaden or narrow your job search to improve your chances for success, help revise or tailor your resume to highlight your experience, make you a stronger candidate, and remind you to persevere if you start to feel discouraged. Their guidance could make all the difference in finding the right job to get you back to work. 

The first step to overcoming any barrier is to identify it. Once you know what you are up against, even if it’s your own self-doubt, it will be easier to overcome with support. With the right amount of preparation and patience, nothing should stand in the way of you returning to work if you want to.

The Tycoon Herald