job seeker Resources
What are my employment rights?
Individuals with disabilities have the right to work in the community, and there are federal laws to protect you from discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination in all phases of the employment process, including hiring, training, advancement, and firing. There are also protections in accessing employment training programs. There are also other federal laws that protect federal employees and job applicants.
Individuals with disabilities have the choice whether to disclose a disability to their employer. There is no one right answer for every potential disclosure situation. Each situation will require the individual to determine how disclosure may affect the hiring process and future success on the job.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN): visit AskJan for more information about if, when, and how to disclose.
Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
People with disabilities have the right to reasonable accommodations to fully participate in the application and employment process. A reasonable accommodation is a change to a job, work environment, policy or procedure that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job duties, or access the same benefits available to coworkers. Reasonable accommodations can include a variety of changes, such as creating a visual task list, an adapted keyboard, text to voice software, shorter or more frequent breaks, an adjusted work schedule, a sign language interpreter for meetings, shifting non-essential duties, reminder apps for smartphones, etc.
For a list of common reasonable accommodations, visit The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website, AskJan.
If you need assistance in understanding or advocating for your rights in employment situations, there are organizations that may be able to help.
Centers for Independent Living are designed and operated by people with disabilities. They can assist you in advocating for your rights with your employer.
Protection and Advocacy operates the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program to help people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and have a disability-related employment issue. PABSS advocates provide legal support, advocacy, and information to assist beneficiaries to resolve employment-related concerns.
Assistance for Employment Discrimination Claims
If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work because of your disability you can file a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee based on the person’s disability, along with other protected categories. You can learn more about filing an employment discrimination claim with the EEOC here.
Some local organizations may be able to help you in pursuing a discrimination claim:
What employment services are available?
South Carolina has many providers all over the state who can assist you in reaching your employment goals. See below for a list of providers, their eligibility criteria, and how to apply for services. Note: Some services may be based on financial need.
Eligibility Criteria: Must be legally blind or have a visual impairment that will lead to legal blindness; must have impediments to employment due to the visual impairment; and must intend to obtain competitive, integrated employment as a result of services.
How to apply: Contact your local office to schedule an appointment with a VR counselor who will help with the application process.
Employment Services Offered: Benefits/Work Incentives Counseling; Career Exploration; College Exploration; College Tour Planning and Transportation; Disability Disclosure Guidance; Employment Advocacy; Employment Rights Guidance; Funding for Reasonable Accommodations; Interview Skills; Job Coaching; Job Placement; Job Search Assistance; On the Job Training Opportunities; Peer Mentoring; Professionalism Skills; Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance; Resume Development; Self-Advocacy Skills; Technical Training Program Access; Transportation Assistance; Tuition Assistance
Eligibility Criteria: SC DDSN plans, develops, coordinates, and funds services for South Carolinians with severe, lifelong disabilities. These disabilities include intellectual disability and related disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury and similar disability.
How to apply: Call 1-800-289-7012 (Monday through Friday 8:30 am - 5:00pm, excluding holidays.)
Employment Services Offered: Career Exploration; Disability Disclosure Guidance; Interview Skills; Job Coaching; Job Placement; Job Search Assistance; On the Job Training Opportunities; Peer Mentoring; Professionalism Skills; Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance; Resume Development; Self-Advocacy Skills; Transportation Assistance; Vehicle Modifications
Eligibility Criteria: You must have a physical or mental barrier to employment, need help to overcome it, and be able to benefit from VR services.
How to apply: Apply for services at any of the 30+ local area offices throughout the state.
Employment Services Offered: Benefits/Work Incentives Counseling, Career Exploration, College Exploration, Disability Disclosure Guidance, Funding for Reasonable Accommodations, Interview Skills, Job Coaching, Job Placement, Job Search Assistance, On the Job Training Opportunities, Overpayment of Benefits Assistance, Professionalism Skills, Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance, Resume Development, Self-Advocacy Skills, Technical Training Program Access, Transportation Assistance, Tuition Assistance, Vehicle Modifications
Eligibility Criteria: The only criteria is to identify as having a disability.
How to apply: Call the Able SC office at 1-800-681-6805 to apply. If you require TTY services, call 803-779-0949 for Columbia or 864-235-8798 for Greenville.
Employment Services Offered: Assistance with Filing Employment Discrimination Complaints; Benefits/Work Incentives Counseling; Career Exploration; College Exploration; College Tour Planning and Transportation; Disability Disclosure Guidance; Employment Advocacy; Employment Rights Guidance; Interview Skills; Job Search Assistance; Peer Mentoring; Professionalism Skills; Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance; Resume Development; Self-Advocacy Skills, Pre-Employment Transition Services
Eligibility Criteria: Walton Options provides services for persons with disabilities including those looking to gain or maintain employment in South Carolina. We also work with transition aged youth as they plan ahead toward employment goals.
How to apply: Call the Walton Options office closest to you to speak with an Information and Referral Specialist who will work with you to identify the services you’re looking for and connect you with the appropriate staff to help you move forward with your goals.
Employment Services Offered: Assistance with Filing Employment Discrimination Complaints; Benefits/Work Incentives Counseling; Career Exploration; College Exploration; Disability Disclosure Guidance; Employment Advocacy; Employment Rights Guidance; Interview Skills; Job Coaching; Job Placement; Job Search Assistance; Peer Mentoring; Professionalism Skills; Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance; Resume Development; Self-Advocacy Skills; Transportation Assistance, Pre-Employment Transition Services.
Eligibility Criteria: AccessAbility provides services to people with disabilities in Williamsburg, Orangeburg, Dorchester, Berkeley, and Charleston Counties
How to Apply: Call the AccessAbility office at 843-225-5080 to apply.
Employment Services Offered: Assistance with Filing Employment Discrimination Complaints, Benefits/Work Incentives Counseling, Career Exploration, College Exploration, College Tour Planning and Transportation, Disability Disclosure Guidance, Employment Advocacy, Employment Rights Guidance, Funding for Reasonable Accommodations, Interview Skills, Job Search Assistance, On the Job Training Opportunities, Peer Mentoring, Professionalism Skills, Reasonable Accommodation Request Assistance, Resume Development, Self-Advocacy Skills, Technical Training Program Access
Eligibility Criteria: All of the Job Connections are open to anyone look for employment. The other programs have different eligibility requirements. Applicants may be chronically unemployed, underemployed, or under skilled. Goodwill Industries Upstate Midlands SC specializes in services to those who have a disability, are age 55 or older, are at risk youth, are unemployed veterans or family member of a veteran and who are reentering the workforce after incarceration.
How to apply: Attend a Program Informational Session held every Friday at 9 AM. Locations can be found on the website under the job training tab or call 864-351-0100.
Employment Services Offered: Career Exploration, Interview Skills, Job Placement, Job Search Assistance, On the Job Training Opportunities, Professionalism Skills, Resume Development, Self-Advocacy Skills, Technical Training Program Access, Tuition Assistance
The following resources can be used for starting, improving, or answering questions about a small business in South Carolina
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. They can provide free business counseling and guaranteed business loans.
SC Small Business Development Centers offer seminars, resources, and free counseling that will jump start your start up. Learn how to write a business plan and secure startup capital, and see if a new business idea is feasible.
Denial of Services or Dissatisfied with Services
If you have been denied employment services or are dissatisfied with the services you received, there are agencies that can assist you.
Centers for Independent Living are designed and operated by people with disabilities. They can assist you in advocating for appropriate services.
Protection and Advocacy serves as the Client Assistance Program and handles complaints about services provided through SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department, SC Commission for the Blind, and Centers for Independent Living.
What educational opportunities exist for me?
For many people, education can be the path to new or better careers and, ultimately, to a better future. It’s important that you understand the educational opportunities that would be available to you
South Carolina High School Credential
The SC High School Credential is a new non-diploma option to recognize the work students with disabilities complete in high school to prepare for a career.
SC Technical Colleges
SC Technical Colleges offer bridge programs to 4-year schools, 2-year degrees, and certificate programs that don’t necessarily require a high school diploma.
Four-Year Colleges and Universities
There are plenty of options for finding a 4-year college or university that offers a degree in your area of interest.
College Raptor is one search engine that can help you find the college that’s right for you.
Inclusive Higher Education Programs for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
SC has five college programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities who left high school without a traditional diploma. They typically focus on providing employment, social, academic and independent living support on a college campus.
To learn more about these programs, you can visit ThinkCollege.net
Adult Education can assist you with obtaining a high school diploma, GED, or help to improve your reading skills.
SC Department of Education has a directory of Adult Education sites across SC.
Financial Assistance for Education
College can be costly but there are resources to help.
College Funding for Students with Disabilities is a resource that includes information about general financial assistance, as well as disability-specific opportunities to help with the costs of college.
Whether you are in high school, considering your college options, or actually enrolled in a college training or degree program, it is important to know your rights as a person with a disability.
If you are in middle or high school and have an IEP or think you may be eligible for an IEP, your rights are protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law, alongside others, helps to ensure that you have the support and experiences necessary to leave school prepared for “further education, employment, and independent living.” If you have specific questions about your rights as a student under IDEA, visit WrightsLaw.com and enter the topic you’d like to know more about in the search bar.
All students in K-12 education settings are also protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.To understand how these three laws work together, here is a comparison of the ADA, IDEA, and Section 504.
If you are interested in pursuing additional training or a degree from a college (including technical colleges) or university, your rights are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. SC’s own Protection & Advocacy for People with Disabilities created a great fact sheet.
If you feel you have been discriminated by a school that receives federal funding, find out How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Will I lose my benefits if I decide to work?
Social Security has created several work incentives to encourage individuals with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to work without jeopardizing the benefits they may need until they become financially self-sufficient. Some examples include the Student Earned Income Exception or PASS to help you save for a vehicle or job certification programs without decreasing your monthly check.
The Social Security Administration’s Red Book provides some detailed information about work incentives.
Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA)
South Carolina has a WIPA program that provides free benefits counseling from a certified professional to help you make informed decisions about working. For more information about WIPA services, call the Ticket to Work HelpLine at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) through the WIPA program are available at the following organizations:
Community Partner Work Incentive Counselors are also available to consumers clients of these agencies:
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) is a program operated by Protection and Advocacy to help people with disabilities who receive SSI or SSDI and have a disability-related employment issue. PABSS advocates provide legal support, advocacy, and information to assist beneficiaries to resolve employment-related concerns.
What are my transportation resources?
Transportation can be a big barrier to people with disabilities seeking and maintaining employment. It’s important that you understand your transportation options!
Are you unsure if driving is an option based on your disability? These organizations offer driver evaluations to help you find out.
DMV Practice Tests
Practice tests can help you prepare for getting your driver’s permit and license.
2019 FREE SC DMV Practice Tests: Offered in partnership with the Greenville County Library System, the 2019 SC DMV Practice Tests are good for the beginner’s permit test, driver’s license test, and the senior citizens’ refresher test.
Vehicle Modifications and Training Resources
Vehicle modifications can make driving possible for some individuals with disabilities.
Public Transportation can be a great, inexpensive option for individuals who can’t drive or don’t have access to a vehicle.
Accessible fixed-route, commuter, and/or paratransit services may be available in your area, and where available, it should be accessible. Travel training may also be an option for learning to navigate public transportation.
SC Department of Transportation: Public Transit Providers shows a map of public transportation providers.
Private Bus Options
Greyhound: private bus service for connecting to other counties in the state. It also travels out of state.
MegaBus: private bus service in Columbia that may be more affordable than others. It travels mostly out of state.
Amtrak: Amtrak is a rail system that can be used to travel within and outside of the state.
Rideshare or Taxi Services
Taxi services may be available in your area. Check Yellow Pages for local companies.
Commute with Enterprise offers opportunities to access transportation.
Alternative Transportation Options
Bikes are great tools for connecting to Public Transportation or just making short trips. Adapted bikes such as handcycles are available through several different online vendors. Adult Tricycles can be found in most major retail stores as well as online.
What other resources are available to me?
There are a variety of additional resources that can assist you with maintaining your independence so you can obtain and maintain employment.
South Carolina Assistive Technology Program
A federally funded program that connects people with disabilities to technology so that they can live, work, learn and be a more independent part of the community. As part of a national network of technology-related assistance programs, their goal is to enhance independence, productivity, and quality of life for all South Carolinians through access to assistive technology devices and services.
Palmetto ABLE Savings Program
The Palmetto Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save and invest money without jeopardizing existing benefits such as Medicaid and SSI.