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Pathway 4: People With Disabilities Who Lost Their Jobs Due to COVID-19

Immediate Steps to Take

The COVID-19 pandemic can be scary. We all are working hard to keep ourselves and loved ones healthy and safe and some semblance of our mental health in order. For many of us, the organization for which we have been working has had to downsize. It is terrible that this is happening; yet, the good news is that it is not happening to you alone. It is happening to everybody, and so people are coming together to support each other.

With that in mind, your first step is to secure the economic resources that are available to help you look for a job. A guide to economic resources for people in Los Angeles who have lost jobs during the crisis can be found at ewddlacity.com/index.php/jobloss-covid19.

There are important steps to take to make sure that you, and anyone who may depend on you, are still taken care of.

  1. Register for unemployment insurance (UI) if you were laid off, furloughed, or had your hours cut due to the COVID-19 crisis and qualify.
    1. Even if you think it is too late or you are not certain if you qualify, apply as soon as crisis-related job cuts hit you, since unemployment benefits have been extended and are retroactive to March or even February.
    2. If you are a “gig worker,” freelancer, or part-time worker who has lost your job or had your hours reduced, apply to the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
    3. Sign up for a virtual orientation to familiarize yourself with the UI and PUA systems and the changes that have occurred recently: ewddlacity.com/index.php/jobloss-covid19.
    4. To better understand unemployment benefits, please view this useful infographic.
    5. If you are an immigrant worker who has lost his or her job, please see this page about COVID-19 Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants: cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/immigration/covid-19-drai.
    6. View this website for information on how to apply: unemployment.edd.ca.gov/guide/benefits.
  2. If you own your home with a mortgage, speak with your bank, and if you rent your home, speak to your landlord.
    1. For people who have mortgages, many banks have made efforts to provide mortgage relief to homeowners. Contact your bank to see if you are eligible.
    2. There are renter protections in place so no renter will face eviction procedures if he or she fails to pay rent due to income losses from the COVID-19 crisis. Renters are not required to provide notice to their landlords that the cause of the failure to pay is the COVID-19 crisis; however, you should keep documentation available. Talking to your landlord about your situation may help you arrange an agreement for how the rent will be paid once the crisis is over.
  3. If your health insurance was provided by your employer, you can apply for health insurance using Covered California or Medi-Cal, depending on your income level. Covered California has special subsidies that have reduced premium costs by 70 percent, so the average monthly premium for a family is now $272 on average. A special enrollment period for Covered California has been extended through to the end of July for anyone who qualifies for health insurance but is not enrolled.
  4. Depending on your income post layoff, you also may qualify for food benefits that will allow you to purchase food online or in the store using the CalFresh program. Find information about eligibility for CalFresh here: benefits.gov/benefit/1228, and the application portal here: www.yourbenefits.laclrs.org/ybn/Index.html/langCode/en.

Next Steps to Take for Employment

Once you have provided for your basic safety, think about how you are going to find your next job. A good place to start is the LA Jobs Portal, which is designed to connect with resources to help all who have lost their jobs improve their economic situation and find a new job in the wake of the pandemic. There are two additional touchpoints for adults with disabilities seeking employment services.

American Job Centers of California

AJCCs provides employment services to all residents of California. AJCCs provide many services to job seekers, including but not limited to the following:

  • Job boards that provide current listings from local employers.
  • Free internet access, computers and other communications options.
  • Workshops on job hunting and resume building.
  • One-on-one mock interviews.
  • Job fairs and recruitment sessions.
  • Free job training.
  • Employment referrals.
  • Assessments to help match you with a career path.
  • Career coaching.

Find steps to take to receive assistance in Appendix E.

Vocational Rehabilitation System

The VR system provides specialized employment services for people with disabilities. In California, these services are provided by DOR, which will ask you to set a job goal and provide services to help you get there. This could include helping with accommodations, paying for additional education, creating a career development plan, job exploration, skills and self-advocacy training, and opportunities for job experience. See Page 19 for details on how to apply for DOR services. Appendix A provides a list of all DOR offices in Los Angeles County.

DOR is often a good place to learn about reasonable accommodations to use in the workplace. The following organizations also can help you learn about various types of accommodations and how to build a plan for your work environment:

  • Braille Institute of America: A nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the unique needs of people with vision loss, the Braille Institute provides a range of free programs, services and learning experiences to thousands of students. The Institute has served more than 37,000 people and has locations throughout Southern California. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Braille Institute has switched to an all online service model. More information is available on their website: brailleinstitute.org/coronavirus.
  • California Council of the Blind: The council exists to advance the interests and protect the independence of blind and low-vision Californians. This membership-based organization has local branches in Glendale/Burbank, Greater Lakewood, Greater Long Beach, Greater Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Valley. Please see Appendix C for contact information for each of these chapters.
  • Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART) Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center: CART advances independent living for youth and adults with physical disabilities by connecting them with assistive technology, which can be a game changer to help people with disabilities better integrated into their communities and enter the workforce. Priority areas for CART include seating and mobility devices, AAC systems, software or hardware adaptations, EADLs, worksite evaluations as well as model homes that integrate assistive technology solutions. Services are eligible for individuals with physical disabilities as well as for people with multiple disabilities.
  • Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT): Funded by ODEP, PEAT builds collaboration and cooperation around ensuring the full accessibility of emerging technologies. These technologies help employers full embrace and capitalize on the knowledge, skills and insights of employees with disabilities. PEAT offers employer tools, resources on apprenticeship and working on key issues around the future of work.

The following organizations can provide you with assistive technology, which includes everything from braille printers and screen readers to voice recognition technology and control mice and the myriad of other tools that allow you to remain fully productive even with your newly acquired disability. Additional resources are available in Appendix I, including captioning services and ASL interpreters.

  • Braille Institute of America: A nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the unique needs of people with vision loss, the Braille Institute provides a range of free programs, services and learning experiences to thousands of students. The Institute has served over 37,000 people and has locations throughout Southern California. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Braille Institute has switched to an all online service model. More information is available on their website: brailleinstitute.org/coronavirus.
  • California Council of the Blind: The council exists to advance the interests and protect the independence of blind and low-vision Californians. This membership-based organization has local branches in Glendale/Burbank, Greater Lakewood, Greater Long Beach, Greater Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Valley. Please see Appendix C for contact information.
  • Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART) Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center: CART advances independent living for youth and adults with physical disabilities by connecting them with assistive technology, which can be a game changer to help people with disabilities better integrated into their communities and enter the workforce. Priority areas for CART include seating and mobility devices, AAC systems, software or hardware adaptations, EADLs, worksite evaluations as well as model homes that integrate assistive technology solutions. Services are eligible for individuals with physical disabilities as well as for people with multiple disabilities.
  • Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP): DDTP, operated by the California Public Utilities Commission, ensures that Californians who are deaf or who are hard of hearing can have access to telecommunications technologies. DDTP is composed of CRS, which provides telephone relay support, and CTAP, which provides accessories for qualified individuals. Relay services are available in both English and Spanish. You can learn more about CRS on their website: https://ddtp.cpuc.ca.gov/default1.aspx?id=1482. To learn more about CTAP or apply for services, please visit https://californiaphones.org/apply-now.
  • EmpowerTech: EmpowerTech is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that helps people with physical and developmental disabilities use assistive technology to live their lives, integrate into their communities and succeed at their jobs. EmpowerTech matches individual needs to state-of-the-art software and the latest hardware solutions.

Other organizations also can help you learn new job-related skills and develop your resume and career plans:

Check 211 for government resources provided in Los Angeles County and OnwardCA for government and nonprofit resources available for your individual needs.

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