What is Employment First?
Employment First is a national movement. The movement is based on the belief that all people, including people who have disabilities, have the right to work in their communities in jobs they care about.
Arizona Employment First is a grassroots movement of stakeholders around the state. People are coming together to change policy and practice. The goal is to increase job opportunities for people who have disabilities.
Employment First in Arizona means that competitive integrated employment is the expectation for all Arizonans who have a disability.
What does WIOA stand for?
WIOA stands for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It is a federal law that passed in 2014. The purpose of the law is to strengthen the nation’s public workforce system. The law is meant to improve systems to help job seekers to get high-quality jobs, and to help employers hire skilled workers. WIOA created new programs, and led to changes to existing programs. WIOA encourages coordination between programs and systems related to employment.
For more information, check out our handout: WIOA: It’s Your Choice
What are Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)?
Pre-ETS are services to help students who have disabilities to prepare for the workforce. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) provides these services to students who have disabilities between ages 14 and 22 who are in education programs. VR offers Pre-ETS workshops on five topics related to employment:
Counseling on post-secondary education/training;
To learn more, or to ask for these services, visit VR’s webpage on Pre-ETS.
What is the Division of Development Disabilities (DDD)? Who is eligible for DDD services?
The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) is a state program. The program helps people who have developmental disabilities. DDD helps with health care, and many types of support for independence. DDD can help people train for jobs, and help them keep jobs.
DDD serves people of all ages. DDD has different eligibility rules for different age groups. You can learn more by visiting DDD’s website.
You can also check out our infographic, Applying for the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
I am a person who has a disability. Where can I get information about working?
There are lots of resources to help you learn more about working:
Visit our webpage Who Can Help? to learn more about what each of these resources can do for you!
Can I get health insurance if I start working?
Most of the time, the answer is yes!
If you get AHCCCS health insurance, you might be worried about going over income limits. The AHCCCS Freedom to Work program allows people who have disabilities to earn more money through work and still keep AHCCCS health coverage. To find out more you can visit Disability 101’s webpage. You can also visit AHCCCS’s website.
Also, many employers offer health insurance as a benefit to employees. You can ask questions about how much health insurance will cost and what it covers.
If you get Social Security disability benefits and you are thinking about starting a new job, you may want to contact Ability 360’s Benefits 2 Work Arizona program. You can talk to someone about how increasing your income will affect your benefits and health insurance plan.
What is competitive integrated employment?
Competitive integrated employment means jobs in the community. Competitive employment means that people who have disabilities and people who do not have disabilities get paid the same for doing the same jobs. Integrated employment means that people who have and do not have disabilities work together.
If you work in competitive integrated employment, it means that:
You are hired and paid directly by your employer (not by a job agency or state program)
You work in your community
You work and interact with people who do and do not have disabilities (not in a sheltered workshop or center-based employment)
You don’t work in a group or enclave with other workers who have disabilities (sometimes called group-based employment)
The amount of time you work each week is based on your choices, wants, and needs
You have similar hours as workers who do not have disabilities (who do the same jobs)
You get paid at least minimum wage
You get paid the same as workers who do not have disabilities (who do the same jobs)
You have the same access to benefits as workers who do not have disabilities (who do the same jobs)
You have similar opportunities to get promoted as workers who do not have disabilities
If you are self-employed, you make the same amount of money someone who does not have a disability would be making doing the same work.
Is the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program for me? How can I apply for VR services?
The Arizona Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program may be able to help you if:
- You have a disability;
- You have trouble finding or keeping a job because of your disability;
- You need VR services to help you get, keep, or regain a job;
- You can benefit from VR services.
The application process for VR services starts with a referral form. You can refer yourself. You do not need a service provider to refer you. You have options for how to start the application process:
- To find out the contact information for your local VR office, you can call 1-800-563-1221.You can call or visit your local VR office to ask about services, or to set up an appointment. Staff can help you fill out a referral form;
- You can download the Referral Form from the VR website, complete the form, and send it to VR by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). After you turn in the form, a VR staff member will contact you to set up an appointment.
After you turn in the Referral Form, VR will ask you questions (and may ask for documents) to help figure out if you are eligible for services.
VR also helps students who have disabilities between ages 14-22 with Pre-Employment Transition Services. Students do not have to apply to be a client of VR to get these services. To learn more, or to ask for these services, visit VR’s webpage on Pre-ETS.
For more information, you can visit VR’s website. You can also check out our fact sheet, Vocational Rehabilitation Eligibility, Referral, and Roadmap.
Yes, if you are approved for services from DDD and from VR, you can get help from both agencies at the same time. DDD and VR will work together to help you receive your employment services. This looks different for every person, because people need different types of help to get and keep jobs.
Here is one example. Robert is approved for DDD and VR services. A job coach helps Robert to be successful at work. VR agrees to pay for the job coach when Robert starts a new job. Over time, Robert needs less help from the job coach, but he still needs some support. DDD agrees to keep paying for the job coach long term (even after Robert’s VR services end).
If you are a student with a disability, you may be able to get support from your school, VR, and DDD. To learn more, check out our fact sheet, Transition Services and Requirements.
Can Arizona Employment First help get me a job?
No, Arizona Employment First is not a service provider. We do not work directly with job seekers. We provide information about resources to help you learn about work. If you are looking for people who can help you get a job, visit our Who Can Help? page.
What is APSE?
APSE stands for the Association of People Supporting Employment First. APSE is a national organization, with state chapters across the country. The mission of APSE is: “to advance employment equity for people with disabilities.” APSE brings people together to support Employment First. APSE members include people who have disabilities, family members, service providers, educators, employers, and others. APSE members advocate for policies that increase opportunities for competitive integrated employment. To learn more, you can visit APSE’s website.
There is a chapter of APSE in Arizona! The mission of Arizona APSE is “to expand inclusive employment opportunities for all people with disabilities through education, advocacy and legislative action.” Arizona APSE is working on many projects to help promote Employment First in Arizona. To learn more, you can visit Arizona APSE’s website.
What will happen to my benefits if I start working?
Some people who have disabilities get benefits like SSI, SSDI, AHCCCS, or Medicare. You might worry about losing important benefits if you start working. The good news is that there are rules to help you keep some or all of your benefits when you first start working. People who work end up with more money each month than people who just get SSI. Many people can keep their health insurance, like AHCCCS, while they work or they can get health insurance from their employer. You can find out more about your benefits and work. Check our fact sheet on Working and Benefits. Arizona Disability Benefits 101 has information and calculators for you to learn more on their website. You can get help from a benefits counselor at Benefits 2 Work Arizona.
Am I working or in training?
Sometimes, people who have disabilities take part in training programs before working. These programs can take place in the community or in segregated centers. They can be paid or unpaid. As a trainee, you learn work-related skills to prepare you for employment. Group-supported employment (enclaves) and centered-based employment (sheltered workshops) are examples of training. Training is not a permanent job. Training exists to help you prepare for work.
Employment is a job in your community. These jobs can be full-time or part-time. People who have disabilities and people who do not have disabilities:
- Work together
- Get paid the same for doing the same job
- Get the same benefits
Note: This information comes from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)