Disability Employment Initiative Grants Awarded

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded over $21 million to nine states, including Illinois and Kansas, under the Disability Employment Initiative. The project's goal is to improve employment services and opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Initiative is a joint undertaking of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration and its Office of Disability Employment Policy. The grants ranged in amount from under $1.5 million to nearly $5 million. In addition to Illinois and Kansas, other states receiving funds include Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

How the Grants will be Used

The funds will serve to provide education, training, and employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. Disabled individuals who are unemployed or underemployed, including those collecting Social Security Disability benefits, may potentially benefit from the program. Grant resources are also particularly targeted at individuals with the most severe disabilities to aid their entry or return to work.

The grants will also be used by states to support collaboration, partnerships, and services provided over disability and workforce systems. These services could include state vocational rehabilitation services, developmental disability agencies, independent living centers, mental health agencies and other nonprofit provider organizations.

The goal of the program is to combat the extremely low employment rates among disabled individuals. The grants will hopefully enable more people with disabilities to obtain permanent and secure jobs in the workforce.

If You are Disabled and Unemployed

If you are unable to work because of a disability, an attorney may be able to assist you in collecting the benefits to which you are entitled. When it comes to seeking Social Security Disability benefits, an experienced lawyer can evaluate your situation and help you navigate the system. When over half of all initial applicants are denied, do not give up.