Explore Your Options and Start Planning Now!

As you begin to understand yourself better and start taking care of all of these new responsibilities that come with adulthood, you also have to start thinking about how to develop a career. Here we’ll briefly introduce a few options and refer you to other articles on DB101 that explore them in greater detail. There is also a brief introduction to how work or school can impact disability benefits.

Higher Education

Once you’ve finished high school, education goes from being something that is required of you to being something that you have to desire and work for. There are great aspects of higher education, like the joy of learning, making new friends, and more work opportunities once you graduate.

First Steps for an Education Plan

Set Goals

There are many options for continuing your education after high school, including community colleges, technical schools, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate schools. Think about why you want to continue going to school because that can help you figure out what type of education to do. For example, if you know what type of work you’d like to do when you finish school, you will have an easier time to figure out what type of school you should attend.

Develop a Plan

Once you know what your goal is for the future, you can learn what you need to do right now in order to make that goal become a reality. For example, if you know that you would like to become a veterinary technician, you can go to a technical school and get training. Likewise, if you know that you want to become a teacher, you’ll have to go to college.

Once you have thought about what sort of school you’d like to go to, you’ll also need to prepare yourself for the entire application process, including writing essays, doing interviews, and submitting other paperwork. However, figuring out what type of education you want to get and applying isn’t all you have to plan for. You also need to think about what each educational choice costs and what strategies exist in order to help you be able to pay for school.

Work

Many people with disabilities have meaningful jobs that they enjoy and are successful at doing. You too can get a job.With the right training, preparation, and workplace accommodations, you can have a successful career that will let you earn your own money and give you independence from public benefits. A job will also help you meet new people and make new friends.

First Steps for a Work Plan

Set Goals

As you think about getting a job, try to set a long-term goal. Your goal should be a career that will help you make money, that you can do well, and that you'll find satisfying. Most people don't start off with a job that meets all of these standards, but by having a long-term goal in mind, you can figure out what steps you need to take right now to eventually get there.

Develop a Plan

Before you reach your long-term goal, you will have to get training and gain experience. You will also probably have several jobs. You will need to make a plan that ensures that you get the training and experience you need and helps you advance in your career.

You’ll have to start by getting a lower-level job. However, even getting an entry-level job is not easy. It requires a lot of preparation and work. You need to think about what sort of job will give you the experience you need, pay you enough to cover your expenses, and that you are qualified to do. You’ll also have to figure out if (or how) it will impact your benefits.

Then, once you’ve found some jobs that interest you, you have to apply for them. You’ll need to have a resume, practice interviewing skills, and more. And, once you get a job, you have to make sure it goes well.

Other options

Not everybody wants to immediately get a job or continue with higher education. Volunteering and joining the armed forces are a couple of options you may wish to consider.

Volunteering

If you volunteer at an organization, it basically means that you work there, but aren't paid for your work. There are some really good reasons to volunteer: it helps you get experience, you meet new people, you do something that is good for society, and you may be able to arrange a flexible schedule. There's more information about volunteering and how to find in DB101's article about how young people can find jobs.

Military

Another option for young people is joining the military. For some people this is a good option; it can help you pay for your education and gives you the satisfaction of performing a public duty. However, joining the military can be a difficult option for many people with disabilities. Some disabilities can disqualify you from serving in the Armed Forces. For other disabilities, like learning disabilities, you will not be allowed accommodations during exams. This may result in you not being placed in a position that matches your skills. If you are interested in joining the military, click here to read about the enlistment process, including eligibility, reasons to join, and the physical examination.

How Benefits May Be Impacted by School, Work, or Other Options

Understand Your Benefits

It’s important that you know what benefits you are currently getting and what they really provide. If your parents or others have managed your benefits in the past, talk with them and learn more about your benefits and how they help you.

Develop a Plan

Once you know what benefits you are getting, you can start to examine how they will change if you get a job or go to school. Depending on your situation, your benefits may go down, or even go up. Your benefits could also change as you get older.

If you already have a lot of information about the benefits you get and the amount of money you might make if you get a job, you can try DB101’s School and Work Calculator. This tool, designed for young people with disabilities, takes all of the information you input and produces an estimate of what benefits you will qualify for after you get a job, get older, or go to school.

Read DB101's complete article about Benefits for Young People. It includes clear descriptions of the most common public benefits that young people get and how they change as you get older. It explains Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a very important cash assistance program. It also explains several different types of health coverage, including Medi-Cal, Working Disabled Program (WDP), and private health coverage. It also tells about different incentives that can help you go to school or get a job without losing these benefits.