Although employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodation to workers with disabilities, in reality, getting the accommodations you need is less than straightforward. Obtaining reasonable accommodation is frequently a back-and-forth process between the employee and employer that costs the employee time, energy, and money. So it’s not surprising that so many people with disabilities are drawn to self-employment. When you run a business of your own, you can work in the time, place, and manner that’s best for you. And while business ownership comes with many challenges of its own, that flexibility offers enormous relief to people with disabilities.
The rise of home-based businesses has made self-employment especially appealing to people with disabilities. With a home computer and a high-speed internet connection, you can run a wide range of businesses. A new business owner might turn a longtime career into a freelance venture, start a blog, or begin their own e-commerce business. Even if you don’t have a ton of skills to draw on, consider starting a business drop-shipping popular consumer goods. Topping Oberlo’s list of business ideas that make money are: phone cases, backpacks and drawstring bags, and personal grooming tools.
No matter what type of business you choose, you need to know the basics of small business ownership. Most businesses have to register with their state. You may need a sales tax permit and other licenses, depending on the type of business. If your business exposes you to liability, incorporating and purchasing insurance is a smart business decision. Forming an LLC is a simple, affordable process that protects your personal assets from business dealings. You can learn more about registering a business and various business structures at the Small Business Administration.
After your business is registered, it’s time to create business bank accounts. A small business checking account keeps personal and business transactions separate. Building a relationship with a banking institution also gives you access to credit for financing business expenses.
Health insurance is a common concern for people with disabilities who are taking the plunge into small business ownership. While insurers through the Health Insurance Marketplace can’t deny coverage or charge more for people with disabilities, available plans can be costly while offering insufficient health coverage. However, you don’t have to remain unemployed or stay in a job you’re unhappy with just to retain health coverage. In Minnesota, you can obtain coverage under the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program. The Minnesota Department of Human Resources has more information about MA-EPD.
When you’re living with a disability, self-employment represents more than a paycheck. It represents freedom from rigid office environments and unsupportive bosses, the ability to create your own accommodations, and the opportunity to pursue a passion. If the idea of starting your own business has crossed your mind, it might be time to take a closer look at self-employment.
Patrick Young, Founder of ableusa.info
Image via Unsplash
While public policies are aimed at creating a framework for our lives that offer protection and support, many that are currently in place produce effects that are unjust. When negative social impacts caused by policies are discovered, it is the people’s duty to collaborate to revise these laws. In a democracy, the policies in place should reflect the values of the people. Through strategic support efforts, individuals can work together to greatly impact policy that benefits its citizens. Advocacy is much more than just proclaiming one’s belief for something. Advocacy is the physical support that contributes to a change.
What does it mean to be an advocate? A self-advocate of the disability community encompasses the meaning fully, stating advocacy is “knowing your rights and responsibilities. Self-advocate means standing up for your own rights. Self-advocate means speak for yourself and make your own decisions, being more independent, standing on your own two feet and sticking up for your rights" (Anderson 2017). Advocacy is multifaceted, and elicits results through continuous and thoughtful actions. By further interpreting this meaning, an individual can understand the fundamentals of being an advocate and begin to make a change in policy.
1. Knowing your rights and responsibilities.
To begin the path to advocacy, one must be knowledgeable of the legislative system and the meaning of the laws in place to protect an individual’s rights. Through this understanding, an individual is able to navigate the political system and make effective efforts in supporting revision for better policy.
2. Speak for yourself.
The values of a community cannot be known if the citizens of the community do not contribute to the conversation. While elected officials are appointed to represent and promote policy that is beneficial to society, it is the duty of the citizens to create a voice that guides policy makers to create effective laws.
3. Stand on your own two feet and stick up for your rights.
To instigate change against policies that are inconsistent with a community's values, participation from the individuals of that community is essential. Standing on your own two feet and sticking up for your rights reflects individuals of the community voicing their opinion and not conceding to unethical policies.
As stated above, the fundamentals of being an advocate involve: understanding your rights, staying informed, and participating in strategic movements that contribute to revising policy. Advocacy empowers a community and allows for the voice and values of that community to be heard, and therefore, utilized in the installation and revision of laws. Being an advocate means influencing the laws that influence you.
By Haley Hajjali / U of M
1. Anderson, Sian, and Christine Bigby. “Self Advocacy as a Means to Positive Identities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities .” Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities , vol. 30, 2017.
Headlines across newspaper front page scream PCA Fraud! Doesn’t it makes you want to cringe and yell out, “We are not all bad providers!”
I have worked for a Fiscal Support Entity (FSE) for the past 10 years, specifically with the Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program along with other self-directed programs. Over time I have seen, both suspected and confirmed cases of fraud. Each time fraud is suspected, you hope it’s not true. But an investigation takes place, a report is made with the State and the questioning begins. While cases of fraud are few and far between it does happen. But, with each case it makes a provider tighten their policies and practices to ensure it does not happen again.
While it feels as if we read or hear about a new fraud case each month, the following fraud facts might surprise you. Within the state of Minnesota there are 240,000 enrolled providers, some examples are PCA’s, pharmacists, transportation providers and day care providers. Over all there are 100 different provider types. For each person enrolled, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will authorize a unique identifier which is used for billing. The billing for Medicaid services is overseen by the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Currently OIG oversees provider billing for the $12 billion dollars Medicaid industry in Minnesota, this fact came from a recent Senate hearing in which the DHS and the OIG reported their findings on PCA Fraud.
Within this same report, OIG indicated in 2016 there were 361 completed fraudulent investigations. Out of these 361 completed reports only 189 were related to PCA fraud, so this accounts for 52% of the fraud cases within Minnesota. Also 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 67,420 workers employed as personal care aides for recipients of Home and Community Based Services in Minnesota. If we do some math comparing the 189 cases of fraud compared to the amount of workers this breaks down to 0.002%.
On a national level, Applied Self Direction (a national organization focused on technical assistance for self-directed services) conducted a study in 2015 and reported there were 536 indictments for fraud, waste or abuse of Personal Care Services out of the more than 2 million PCA’s working throughout the nation. That calculates to 0.03%, or if you want look at this in another way, it breaks down to 1 in every 4,500 PCA’s.
As a Fiscal Support Entity; our staff looks at every timesheet, every signature, and every receipt that comes in to ensure accuracy and to avoid any potential fraudulent activity. Fiscal Support Entities or PCA agencies have policies in place to report suspected fraud or training for workers upon hire and annually on what constitutes fraud in an effort to minimize activity. Both PCA agencies and Fiscal Support Entities have to pass rigorous requirements with the state in order to provide services.
So while the news would have us believe that there are fraud cases running rampant across the county, the facts indicate a relatively low percentage. While there may be a case from time to time, over all services are being provided without problem.
Written by: Julie Lux, MRCI