Access to work?

Access to work as a person with a disability can be tricky, to say the least. For those with an invisible disability, there is the dilemma of what to disclose. Being a full-time wheelchair user and dependent on others for care it’s obvious I have additional requirements.

Support with accessing work

I contacted a support service to help me find a job. I was told I’m better off on benefits and that I should apply for the Severe Disability Premium benefit. I’d heard of this benefit and the top-up would make life easier. People are only eligible if they already receive certain benefits. I received qualifying benefits at the time so I filled in the forms and applied.

Woman with hands up, looking confused.

Is Severe Disability Premium benefit means-tested?

Having applied for the benefit I found out I don’t qualify for the Severe Disability Premium because I have savings of over £6,000 and I also live with my parents. If I had savings less than £1500 I would’ve been sent a form to fill in that asks me to declare my income.

Too disabled to work?

As I have high care needs working could affect my benefits making me worse off financially. If employed I would have to pay for my Direct Payment. I can’t afford this! My care package doesn’t enable me to work or currently meet my needs. Although I have 24/7 care, the hourly rate I can afford to pay is £11 an hour! This is barely above minimum wage and too low to attract competent staff that will enable me to live not just exist! Accessing work right now isn’t possible sadly.

Society seems designed to have me sitting at home, wilting from boredom? People with care needs do work and have care packages that give them choice and freedom. They often have some form of NHS funding known as CHC which provides care free. This is because they have health needs that require specialist care.

The access to work government scheme

The Access to Work scheme helps with grants for equipment and or support if you have a disability or mental health condition. To be eligible for the scheme you need to:

  • have a physical or mental health condition or disability that means you need support to do your job or get to and from work
  • be 16 or over
  • be in paid work (or be about to start or return to paid work in the next 12 weeks)
  • live and work (or be about to start or return to work) in England, Scotland or Wales. Northern Ireland have a different scheme. Unfortunately the Access to Work isn’t available in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

I will be applying when I am in a position to have a job and I’ll write a separate post about how to apply. For now I’m focusing on my journalism studies with Ability Today and am seeking advice on how to get the right support from my local council.

What do you think about the barriers surrounding accessing work with a disability or health condition? Let me know. Let’s make employment be more inclusive. Share your stories here.

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