Misunderstanding and fears about the impact of earnings on benefits represent a significant barrier in the return-to-work efforts of people with disabilities. This pilot project evaluated an approach to spreading a positive message about work and dispelling myths about the effects of work on Social Security benefits through outreach and networking in the disability community. A peer leadership project was developed by enlisting 33 people with disabilities, mainly through disability advocacy organizations, who had experience with disability benefits. They received several days of basic training about work incentives, networking strategies, and community resources that support employment. These peer leaders then developed and pursued outreach plans in their communities.
Peer leaders reported making 1046 contacts through their personal networks. 130 of the people contacted participated in a survey rating the quality of the interaction and their activities involving employment. The majority of respondents reported they had received helpful information from the peer leaders and had less concern about the negative effects of work on benefits; approximately one-quarter took some steps toward going to work. The evidence from this project suggests that a peer to peer approach may be effective in promoting a positive message about and creating interest in employment.
Sulewski, J. S., Kugler, R., & Kramer, J. (2010). Spreading a positive message about work, earnings and benefits through peer networking: Findings from the Peer Employment Benefits Network. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(3), 151–161. http://doi.org/10.3233/JVR-2010-0506
Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, IOS Press
© 2010 Reprinted with Permission of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, IOS Press.