Someone filling out a job application

How To Navigate Applying for Jobs When You’re Injured/Disabled

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has implemented several expansions to unemployment benefits to buffer the financial effects of the pandemic. Those expansions included adding $300 to each week of unemployment benefits and extending unemployment benefits to people who don’t usually qualify for them, such as independent contractors and the self-employed.

However, California is slated to end many of these expanded benefits, including the $300/week stimulus, on September 4th, 2021. Although the unemployment rate has been decreasing and is now hovering at around 5.4%, research has shown that there are still a notable amount of Americans who have been out of work for at least six months and may have been relying on these enhanced benefits.

It’s estimated that there are currently almost 10 million job openings as of July 2021—a number that’s greater than the amount of people looking for work. However, concerns about the delta variant, especially for those who are immunocompromised or disabled, may complicate a return to work. Additionally, injured workers and people with disabilities sometimes find it challenging to find a job they’re interested in that they will be able to perform and are qualified for.

For people with disabilities and injured workers, here are a few tips for searching for jobs during this time.

  1. Search for jobs on websites that cater to job seekers with disabilities or injuries. There are many job sites, such as abilityJOBS, Recruit Disability, and Diversity Jobs, that feature jobs from employers who are committed to hiring people with disabilities/injuries. Although any employer with more than five employees is legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations, which may include remote work, a flexible schedule, or adjustments to how work is performed, for people with disabilities, employers who are committed to inclusivity will likely have a more accepting work environment for those with disabilities/injuries.
  2. Request accommodations during the application process if you need them. Reasonable accommodations also apply to the job application process. If you are unable to visit the office for an in-person interview because it requires using stairs or if you’re deaf and would prefer to use sign language for your job interview, you can let the employer know about your disability and ask for accommodations.
  3. Remember that an employer can’t ask about your medical history during an interview and you can decide when/if you disclose your disability. If you are in need of reasonable accommodations, you will have to let your employer know about your disability/injury, but you can choose when you share this information. Additionally, it is illegal for your employer to ask you about your medical history, so you can choose what you share with them and you can also choose not to disclose your disability if you will not be requesting reasonable accommodations.
  4. Like any job applicant, focus on how your strengths, experience, and personal attributes will make you a great fit for the jobs you’re interviewing for. For the most part, applying to jobs is the same for people with disabilities as it is for any job applicant. By focusing on strengths and demonstrating value to potential employers, you can differentiate yourself from other applicants.
  5. If you feel you are unable to work due to your disability or injury, consider the other benefits that may be available to you. Some people have injuries or disabilities that make it painful or challenging for them to work. In these cases, they may be eligible for Social Security Disability/SSI benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or benefits through other federal or state programs. If you have any questions about your right to these types of benefits, feel free to reach out to us by filling out our Contact Us form or calling us at 805-214-8888.

The law firm of Ghitterman, Ghitterman and Feld helps employees in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability, disability retirement, personal injury, labor and employment issues. Founded in 1956, the firm now has offices in Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Kern County, Tulare County, and Fresno County. The firm is proud to continue this tradition of securing all available rights for the injured and disabled in our community. For more information about what we do, how we might be about to help, or resources, see our website at www.ghitterman.com.