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Working from Home with a Disability: What You Need to Know

December 9, 2018 Legal Team

Living with an illness and/or a disability can be a significant challenge. It can be even more challenging to work when you are disabled. This is especially true if you are attempting to work a conventional job when you are disabled. Depending on your specific situation, commuting to work, certain job tasks such as lifting or standing for long periods of time, or rigid work schedules may serve as obstacles. These are very likely obstacles that disabled individuals may never be able to overcome.

This is why working at home might be an appealing option for individuals with disabilities. It essentially gives those who have disabled the hope that they too can work, build a career and earn a livelihood despite their limitations. Working at home opens up a world of opportunities for those who are living with disabilities and chronic illnesses. At the same time, they could also pose a set of new and different challenges.

If you are living with a disability and are hoping to work from home, here are a few tips that might help you.

Knowing Your Limitations

When people initially begin working from home, it can be rather challenging to maintain a daily structure. Since you are working from home, it may be difficult to make that separation between work time and home time. This could lead to the person being up during the early hours of the morning when he or she should have gotten some rest and sleep. If you are suffering from a chronic illness, working at home could initially throw you off your medication or therapy schedule.

But, sleep deprivation and lack of adequate rest will likely catch up with you, making you less productive and efficient. This could hurt your income and your relationship with a remote employer or client if you are an independent contractor. So, it is absolutely crucial that you recognize your limitations and build your work schedule around them.

Knowing What You Can Handle

This goes hand in hand with understanding your limitations. When you are working from home, it is important not to take on more than what you can reasonably do. Initially, when you begin working from home, you may be tempted to take on more than 40 or 50 hours of work each week. You may think that you will have that kind of time because you don’t have to commute, attend meetings or get dressed anymore.

But the work could add up very quickly and take up more time than you initially thought. Working past your limits could prove potentially damaging emotionally and could throw a wrench in your social life. It could cause other health symptoms to flare up. In addition, failing to deliver on projects could cost you the project, a client or even a job, and it could damage your reputation.

Overextending yourself can do even more damage to your body. For example, typing too much when you are suffering or arthritis or not following your sleep schedule could wreak havoc on your health and overall well being.

It is important that you set yourself up for success. Initially, take on only what you know you can complete. Add on to your workload gradually. This will not only keep you happy and healthy but also give your employers and clients the assurance that you are capable of handling the pressures of working from home.

Pay Attention to Self Care

If you have a disability or a chronic illness, you know what you need to do to care for yourself. This could mean sticking to your medication schedule. You might need to undergo physical therapy or continue to do exercises at home every day so you’re not losing strength and mobility. You will need to maintain your doctor’s appointments and sleep schedule. You may need to do a number of other things that affect your daily routine.

Just because you don’t have a conventional job, don’t skip any of these things you need to do to take care of yourself. In addition, take regular breaks, particularly if you are sitting down at your computer all day. Step outside for a walk, if possible, or at the very least, get up and stretch. Set your timer to remind you to get up and stretch. Breaks can help alleviate eye strain, and moving around regularly improves blood circulation.

When you feel overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to get a soothing cup of tea or do deep breathing exercises. Taking these steps to care for yourself can help you become more productive and effective at your job and prevent you from getting burned out.

The Job That’s Right for You

When you are faced with a disability or a chronic illness, it can be challenging to find a job that can accommodate your limitations. This can become simpler if you know what to expect and understand your limitations. For example, if you know you have to go to the doctor frequently or undergo physical therapy every day, then, you might only be able to handle a part-time job because of these daily interruptions.

If you have chronic pain or find that your energy levels vary each day, you may be able to do take on something deadline-based such as freelance writing projects. If your only limitation is mobility, you could opt for a phone-based customer service job or social media job.

If you are not sure about what kind of a job might be right for you, contact a vocational rehabilitation counselor who can help you not only determine the type of job that’s appropriate for you, but also help you find it. For more information, visit NTI@Home’s website (

Understanding Income Limits

If you are currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks, you can only make a certain amount in income each month, as an individual with a disability. When you fail to keep your income down, you may find your monthly disability payments getting reduced. It is important that you check the Social Security Administration’s website or talk to your caseworker or attorney for more information.

If you are being discriminated by an employer because of your disability, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Our experienced disability discrimination lawyers can help you better understand your legal rights and options.