How Can We Get People with Disabilities Back to Work?


In West Virginia, a growing number of working-age adults are qualifying for federal disability benefits. But once they’re receiving an SSI or SSDI check, they rarely return to work.

And that’s leading to growing resentment across Appalachia of some people with disabilities.

Helping disabled people overcome barriers to work isn’t easy. But the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) does it every day.

Here in West Virginia, for every $1 we spend helping a person with disability find work, we get $1.81 after one year, and over $5 return on investment after three years.

But because of a lack of funding, there’s a 400-person waiting list for DRS services.

On this episode of The Front Porch, we hear from DRS Director Marijane Waldron. She explains what works, and some of the barriers that keep people with disabilities from finding work.

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing Appalachia the same way you talk with your friends on the porch.

Hosts include WVPB Executive Director and recovering reporter Scott Finn; conservative lawyer, columnist and rabid “Sherlock” fan Laurie Lin; and liberal columnist and avid goat herder Rick Wilson, who works for the American Friends Service Committee.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available at and as a podcast as well.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @

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