Disability iconsUnder the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Read today's Money Mondays to learn more about the cost of accommodations and who pays for them.

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Money Mondays: The (Low and No) Cost of Reasonable Accommodations

Jul 10, 2017

Disability iconsWe're marking the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this month. In today's Money Mondays, we're talking about the cost of reasonable accommodations and who pays for them.

Reasonable accommodations

The ADA requires many employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a change to a job, work environment or the way work is performed that allows a person with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy equal access to benefits available to other people in the workplace.

Many accommodations are only minor changes to the workspace. However, you may wonder what these accommodations cost and who is responsible for paying for them. If you're thinking about returning to work or finding work for the first time, the potential expense of onsite accommodations may make you wonder if you can afford to work.

The good news is that the ADA requires many employers to pay for and provide onsite job accommodations, so you're not financially responsible for making these changes. Instead of worrying about if you have access to and the ability to pay for job accommodations, you can focus on doing your best during the interview process and transitioning to a new position.

Myths and Facts

To learn more about the ADA and its regulations, check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employers and the ADA: Myths and Facts.
It can help you learn more about your rights to equal-opportunity employment. For example, small businesses with fewer than 15 employees are not covered by the provisions of the ADA and are not required to provide accommodations.

Low cost, high impact

While many accommodations are free to provide, employers also provide onsite job accommodations that have a cost. Some people may feel uncomfortable requesting job accommodations because of the cost, but we have good news about this too. In their Reasonable Accommodations: Low Cost High Impact study, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) collected information from 700 employers. JAN found that typically, accommodations will be a one-time cost of $500 or less; however, most employers reported paying less or paying nothing at all for the accommodations they provided to their employees. In fact, JAN reports that 59% of job accommodations cost absolutely nothing.

Examples of Free or Low-Cost Reasonable Accommodation
If a person:A reasonable accommodation could be:
Has light sensitivityAdjustments to lighting or change in seating assignment
Uses a wheelchair that won't fit under a deskAdjustments to the desk height
Needs time off for doctor's appointmentsArrangements for an adjusted work schedule

In the study, JAN also found that of the employers who participated:

  • 59% said the accommodations needed by employees cost nothing;
  • 36% experienced a one-time cost;
  • 4% said the accommodation resulted in an ongoing, annual cost to the company; and
  • 1% said the accommodation required a combination of one-time and annual costs

Employers in the study also reported that providing accommodations had helped them keep valued employees, increased attendance and productivity, added to the company's diversity, and improved company morale.

You can learn more about reasonable job accommodations by visiting JAN’s website, where you can find accommodation ideas and guidance on how to request reasonable accommodations from your employer.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

How can the Ticket to Work program help?

Employers are typically willing to set up and provide reasonable accommodations for their employees, but you may feel unsure about what accommodation would help you or how you should make the request. Ticket program service providers, like Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies, may be able to help. They can make accommodation suggestions and guide you through making the request and securing accommodations from your employer.

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Additional Resources

  • Register and attend our WISE webinar on July 19. JAN will present on reasonable accommodations and share how they can help you on your career path.
  • Subscribe to our blog and stay updated on Ticket program news and information. Later this month, we'll talk about the cost of reasonable accommodations and who pays for them and provide tips about requesting accommodations during the interview process.
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