Resource Fam Jobseeker

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Supported Employment Training Project

a project of the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky

Job Seekers and Family Members

A dedicated web page for job seekers and family members.

This page focuses on information for job seekers or their family members – people exploring the possibility of supported employment, as well as those already receiving services who need additional information. Other parts of our Supported Employment Training Project (SETP) website are designed primarily for people providing supported employment services. There are many hyperlinks within this page – all in blue italicized text. Click on the hyperlinks to connect to related links. Then click your computer’s back button to return to this page. To access the PDF files you will need Adobe Acrobat™ Reader™. Click here to download the free reader.

You may click on the links below to go to specific topics on this page. Or just scroll down the page to see all topics:

Why Supported Employment?

For many Americans, employment is an essential part of a full life. Jobs influence people’s sense of belonging and place in the world, as well as affecting the material side of life. Furthermore, work in a fitting job represents one primary way of expressing the inherent human need to contribute – doing something that matters.

However, all too often the significance of employment for people with disabilities has been unrecognized, ignored, or minimized. Supported Employment can open the door – offering good job opportunities for people formerly left on the sidelines, including people who question whether employment is a possibility. (Can my son or daughter work?)

Supported Employment promotes personalized employment opportunities for people with disabilities:

  • discovering new personal dimensions and possibilities for contribution;
  • exploring types of work previously unconsidered;
  • negotiating jobs that fit interests and skills;
  • becoming established as a valued employee; and
  • pursuing advancements.

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What services are provided through Supported Employment?

  • Person Centered Job Selection: Discovery! Exploring types of work previously unconsidered. What are personal gifts and interests previously unrecognized? What are characteristics of a good job?
  • Job Planning Meetings: Convening and networking with trusted others. Matching job characteristics with job tasks; then matching tasks with relevant types of business, and finally matching business types with specific employers – mapping a way for efficient and effective job development.
  • Job Development: Using information learned in the job planning meeting for further networking, and exploring targeted businesses. (Not randomly knocking on doors, seeking any job opening! Not just filling out applications!)
  • Job Analysis: So what’s it really like in this business? What are possibilities for customized employment (jobs designed around specific employer needs that match a person’s talents and interests)? What are the natural supports? How do people typically learn their jobs? Who teaches them? How long does it take?
  • Follow up and long-term support: So, how’s it going? What have we learned? Where do we go from here in terms of next steps, job advancements?

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What is good Supported Employment and how do I know when I see it? 

This link will take you to a page of Supported Employment stories in Kentucky – illustrating positive possibilities through Supported Employment. (Supported Employment Stories)

Also, it’s important to interview supported employment providers in order to learn about their organizational philosophies as well as personal perspectives and ways of approaching employment. The following linked file has possible questions for seeking a goodness of fit between the job seeker and supported employment provider. (Seeking Quality Supported Employment Services)

Plus the following papers describe supported employment quality indicators for services, personnel, and organizations. (Supported Employment Quality Indicators and Supported Employment Ethical Guidelines)

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Who provides Supported Employment services in Kentucky and who pays for it?

Kentucky has over 80 entities that provide Supported Employment. Some are free-standing agencies that only provide Supported Employment. Others provide services in addition to Supported Employment. When seeking Supported Employment, you may begin by talking with Supported Employment providers. (KY Supported Employment Provider List) Or your first step may be contacting the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) where your OVR eligibility will be determined and referrals made to Supported Employment providers. (Information about OVR is next.) Regardless, it’s important to interview Supported Employment providers to learn about their ways of approaching employment services. As is true for all types of services, there is a significant range of quality. (Supported Employment Provider Questions)

The Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR District Offices) determines OVR eligibility for Supported Employment services; then makes referrals to Supported Employment providers (described in the prior paragraph). As long as you’re found eligible by the OVR for Supported Employment, they pay the initial costs including Person Centered Job Selection, Job Planning Meetings, Job Development, Job Analysis, Job Negotiation, and supporting the person’s learning and becoming established in the job. Then the Supported Employment Providers have a variety of ways of paying for long-term support services including problem-solving on the job, promoting job advancements… You may either contact OVR first, or you may begin by talking with Supported Employment Providers who will connect you with OVR to determine eligibility.

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Customized Employment, Self-Employment, and Employment First

What is Customized Employment (CE)? People who have a lot to contribute sometimes have difficulties performing all aspects of a job and/or they may not compete well with others for job openings. Customized Employment matches job seeker skills and interests with employer needs – without regard for what’s written in a job description. This file by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the US Department of Labor describes Customized Employment (Customized Employment Q & A) and here’s another file illustrating examples (Customized Employment Works Everywhere). Plus, here are three video clips illustrating benefits of customized employment. (1 – Customized Employment Solutions for Youth with Disabilities; 2 – Customized Employment Solutions for Employers; 3 – Customized Employment Creating Opportunities and Solutions)

What is supported self-employment? Sometimes people have talents, interests, and motivations that are a good fit for starting a business. Starting a business almost always involves a group of interested people willing to partner in the venture. These files by Griffin-Hammis Associates answer frequently asked questions about self-employment (Self-employment FAQ) as well as describe Social Security Considerations (Social Security Considerations for Small Business Owners with Disabilities). Here’s an additional document with good information about considering self-employment: (Toolbox for Employment: Customized Self-Employment and Benefits Planning).

What’s the “Employment First” agenda? This is a movement that’s taken root in a number of states – centered around raising expectations, acknowledging the profound significance of employment opportunities, and seeking employment as a first option. (Establishing a National Employment First Agenda), and (APSE Statement on Employment First – October 2010)

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What happens to my benefits (e.g., SSI, Medicaid) when I start earning wages?

  • Benefits Counseling Services are available from two organizations: The Center for Accessible Living in Louisville (CAL Counseling Services) and Goodwill Program Services in Lexington (Goodwill WIPA Services).
  • Social Security developed the “Red Book” to provide clear, brief, and “plain language” explanations of work incentives as well as ways wages impact benefits: (2017 Red Book). Plus, here’s an additional Social Security document that’s clearly written. (Working While Disabled — How We Can Help)
  • Try your own. Just plug in the numbers and the SSI worksheet does the computation. 2022 SSI Worksheet
  • How do I report earnings to Social Security? You’ll want to check with your local Social Security office to learn how often they want reports of change in earnings. This is something your SE Provider can assist with doing. Here’s a form you can adapt as needed: (Notification of Change of Earnings Form)
  • What will happen to my Medicaid when I go to work? This file describes how most SSI recipients can maintain their Medicaid eligibility — even after earning significant wages. For 2016, the “threshold amount” in Kentucky is $29,746. (1619b Fact Sheet 2017)
  • What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? The EITC is a refundable federal tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. Here’s an IRS link with further information: EITC. Also, you may wish to contact the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) for free assistance with tax preparation (VITA).

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  • When can OVR begin services? Here’s a link to Kentucky OVR’s web page about Transition from School to Work for Students with Disabilities. (KY OVR and Transition)
  • How do I get started with OVR? Here’s a link to Kentucky OVR’s web page about Program Services plus a PDF file of the OVR Consumer Guide. (KY OVR Program Services and OVR Consumer Guide) Plus here’s a link to the KY OVR Supported Employment Branch (KY OVR Supported Employment Branch).
  • Where can I find help with work transition? The Community  Work Transition Program (CWTP) is a cooperative venture by Kentucky OVR, the Kentucky Department of Education, participating school districts, and the UK Human Development Institute. (Community Work Transition Program)
  • What are the rules about student pay during work transition? The linked file is an excerpt from the 2010-2011 Community Based Work Transition Program Policies & Procedures Manual that includes U.S. Department of Labor Guidelines for work transition programs regarding pay. (DOL Guidelines for Work Transition Pay)
  • How do I (or do I) tell an employer about my disability? This paper from the Institute for Community Inclusion outlines ADA-related considerations for how, when, and if to disclose your disability to an employer. (Disclosure)
  • How can I translate all of the human service alphabet-speak? Here’s a glossary of some commonly used acronyms and abbreviations: (Alphabet Glossary).
  • Where do I find information about the Supports for Community Living (SCL) Medicaid waiver or the Michelle P. waiver? Here are web pages from the Kentucky Division of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities with SCL and Michelle P. information. (KY SCL Medicaid Waiver and Michelle P. Waiver) Also, it’s been noted that there’s been much confusion and occasionally inaccurate information about Medicaid and “share of cost,” also sometimes called “patient liability.” Here’s a fact sheet from P&A providing helpful and accurate information (Medicaid Waiver – Share of Cost Fact Sheet).

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Where can I get additional information?

  • For general supported employment questions or for ideas to improve this web page:
    Katie Wolf Whaley, Project Director, office 859-977-4050,
  • Person to contact when not getting what’s needed regarding supported employment:
    Ron O’Hair, OVR Supported Employment Program, office 502-564-4440 or 1-800-372-7172,

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We hope this page is helpful. Please contact for additional information or ideas for improving this page.

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