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RAISE The Standard, February 2023, v.9 n.3

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

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woman with a disability working on coding project remotely at her home

Remote Control:

Skills for a New Work Environment

Did you know that the employment rate for people with disabilities has surpassed its pre-pandemic level? It is now the highest it has been since the Great Recession. Research by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) shows that individuals with disabilities aged 25-54 were 3.5% more likely to be employed in Q2 2022 than before the pandemic.

The 2022 National Employment and Disability Survey also identified significant gains in recruiting, hiring, accommodating, and retaining employees with disabilities. The survey showed the use of flexible work arrangements almost doubled since 2017. The majority of supervisors predict that work-from-home options would remain an employment staple post-pandemic, and many now have a dedicated central accommodations fund for employees with disabilities.

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we explore remote work practices, and considerations for people with disabilities.

Click here to access the 2022 Employment Survey.


Young woman with disabilities talking about workiong remotely vs working onsite in an office

People with disabilities talk about

working from home

We love this first-person perspective from employees with disabilities about the benefits of remote work.

“What matters ultimately is ‘can the person do the job’…”

Click here to access the video.


Man with dwarfism working remotely on a laptop computer at his home desk

Remote Work and Reasonable Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities

Q: What is a “reasonable accommodation”?

A: A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) designed to help a person with a disability apply for a job, carry out the job duties, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. These may include, but are not limited to: making existing facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities; job restructuring, modification of work schedules or place of work, extended leave, telework, reassignment to a vacant position; and acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, including computer software and hardware; appropriate adjustments or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies; and, the provision of qualified readers and/or interpreters and other similar accommodations.

Q: Can “remote work” or “work from home” be an accommodation?

A: When exploring remote work, it’s necessary to identify all of the essential functions (tasks) of the job. For some jobs, the essential duties can only be performed in the workplace. In other jobs, some or all of the essential duties can be performed at home. It may be feasible to perform some essential duties at home while others must be carried out from the job site.

Not all jobs can be performed remotely. Allowing an employee to work at home may be a “reasonable accommodation” when the person's disability prevents them from successfully performing the job on-site and the job (or parts of the job) can be performed at home without causing significant difficulty or expense.

Q: In what situations might “remote work” or “work from home” be suggested as an accommodation?

A: Remote work might be an appropriate accommodation for employees who experience work-related barriers such as:

  • Difficulty commuting to and from work due to disability-related reasons
  • Limited access to accessible parking
  • Limited worksite or workstation accessibility
  • Environmental issues (e.g., exposure to chemicals/irritants, temperature sensitivity, problematic lighting, etc.)
  • Lack of privacy to manage personal/medical needs, like using the restroom, taking medication, or receiving treatment
  • Rigid work schedule
  • Exposure to viruses and bacteria
  • Workplace distractions affecting concentration

Q: Does the employer have to provide equipment needed to perform the essential duties of the position?

A: This issue must be considered on a case-by case basis because the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act do not directly address this question.

Working at home often requires the ability to access electronic information or communicate with others. This means it is often necessary to use electronic devices (e.g., laptop, cell phone, etc.) to perform essential job duties. Many employers let employees take a laptop computer from the job site to work at home and to remotely access information systems outside of the traditional work environment. If it is allowed for other employees, it is NOT considered a disability-related accommodation.

While the ability to work from home can be justified by limitations from a disability, a lack of equipment is not usually something that is related to the disability. If the job requires specialized equipment that a person is unlikely to have at home, then an argument could be made that an employer may need to provide the equipment. This does not mean re-creating the office at an employee's home, but it might require providing some of the equipment necessary to enable the employee to perform essential functions.

Adapted from Ask JAN.


SSI and SSDI information on a desktop computer screen

Public Benefits for Remote Workers

Disability benefits can help ensure a steady source of income. A person with disabilities who works from home can get benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability programs, as long as they paid into the Social Security system through taxes, and have an established work history.

Basic Eligibility for SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the name of the SSA’s primary disability program. This insurance requires workers to pay premiums in order to be covered. All American workers must contribute to the Social Security fund to be qualified beneficiaries. SSDI “premiums” are paid through taxes based on annual income.

Working from Home

If a person works from home for a third party employer (not self-employed) Social Security taxes are collected by the employer as payroll deductions under Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). FICA also includes Medicare taxes. If a person is approved for SSDI benefits and stays on disability for two years, they automatically become eligible for medical coverage through Medicare.

If a person works from home but is self-employed, they are responsible for paying their own Social Security and Medicare taxes. Self-employment taxes are paid four times a year, or when a person files their annual income tax return. These taxes are the employee’s contributions to the Social Security and Medicare funds. As long as the tax payments meet minimum requirements, workers can qualify for SSDI benefits and Medicare coverage.

Qualified Beneficiary Status and Work History Requirements

Social Security taxes build a work history record with the SSA and accumulate work credits. To be a qualified SSDI beneficiary under the SSA’s rules, a person must have between 20 and 40 credits available in the work record. The number of credits needed for disability benefits depends on the age of the person when they became disabled.

Supplemental Security Income

SSDI is not the only disability program. Individuals may also qualify for monthly disability payments through Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is needs-based, requires no work history, and does not depend on paying Social Security taxes.

Need more information? Click here to access


asian woman using braille reader with computer

Essential Skills for Remote Job Seekers

In order for people with disabilities to work from remote locations, they need to have and show a unique set of skills:

Ability to Work Independently – Remote workers need the ability to work independently. Workers need to know their job and meet expectations without much hand-holding. While virtual workspaces allow for communicating with others, responses from a manager or coworkers often aren’t as quick as popping into an office or talking to someone in the next cubicle.

Self-Motivation – Because there’s often no boss or manager to physically check on an employee in a home office, remote workers need to be self-motivated to get their work done on time.

Strong Communication Skills – Many workers need to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly, whether it’s through email, online messaging, verbally, or through a project management program.

Comfort with Using Digital Tools – Every company has its own tools and methods for getting work done and keeping workers engaged, so you may need to learn new digital resources. Remote collaboration requires use of online and digital resources, which means getting comfortable with project management programs, video meeting software, and company-specific digital platforms.

A Team Player Mindset – Even when an employee works alone, it doesn’t mean they are not part of a larger team. That means fulfilling work duties well and on time, being accountable to other team members, and keeping them informed.

Cross Cultural Literacy – In a remote workplace, workers can come from all over the world. This makes for an interesting and dynamic work culture, but it can also present problems because language, communication style, culture, and traditions (and time zones!) vary around the world. It’s crucial that remote workers be aware of and sensitive to these differences.

Reliable and Secure Equipment – Many employers don’t provide computers and other equipment needed for remote work. Instead, workers may be responsible for obtaining the tools and connectivity they need. For employers who have technical requirements, that may mean buying (and learning) new equipment, such as a Mac or PC, a headset, and specific software and services. Remote employees often need secure internet access and anti-virus software. For more on whether such equipment is considered a “reasonable accommodation, see our "Tool that Work" article above.

Adapted from content at


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the US that provide training and programming to youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, professionals, and other PTIs and CPRCs on the issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

REAL Transition Partn

In this issue, meet REAL Transition Partners, a collaboration between all 26 Region A parent centers will provide innovative services that involve diverse youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, highlight the region’s strengths and collaborative spirit, and through a regional Community of Practice, enhance participating parent center capacity around transition and adult service systems.

SPAN Parent Advocacy network is the lead partner in Region A-2 for parent centers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

Click here to learn more about REAL Transition Partners (SPAN).


Ren Kolani

For this issue, we turn back to 2021 to share RAISE blogger Ren Koloni’s post about assistive technology:

"… the beauty of assistive tech is that there are as many tools to help our bodies as there are different kinds of bodies, and no limits on who’s allowed to use it. Indeed, using tools to improve our lives isn’t strange, shameful, or the stuff of science fiction – it’s human nature."

- Ren Koloni

Click here to read Ren Koloni’s blog post.


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background, the Guide to Telework in the Federal Government has been updated to replace the formal guide published in 2011 and is designed to address policy gaps and provide resources to help contextualize the continued evolution of telework as a critical workplace flexibility.

Click here to learn about Telework.

Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program

Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology and devices as reasonable accommodations, to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured Service members throughout the Department of Defense in accessing information and communication technology.

Click here to learn about CAP.

RAISE The Standard

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor:

Josie Badger

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

US Dept of Education logo seal

The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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