Q) I am an ex-offender(I served a 4-year sentence at a PA State SCI. Convicted of a felon-1 via “Guilty by Mental Illness”), I am now on 5 years state-supervised probation. I have a documented mental illness and severe hearing loss, and cannot resume the same array of business/work and/or physical/mental functions as I previously had executed. I was/am self-employed full-time since 1987. My PA registered business is named “Covered Bridge Customs” (primarily custom motorcycle painting and sign crafting). I have a valid PA tax number for collecting sales tax (36-300-937). I have no workshop to operate in, as it was sold in year 2011 as part of my home. I only have a small home office where I live in York County. I am currently investigating if I may be eligible for Social Security Disability and Public County Assistance. Otherwise, I am not working, I live with my brother in York, PA, but I am also investigating employment opportunities in order to meet my probation obligations of 20 employment applications per week, and to possibly find a job that I may be able to handle given my disabilities. I do not know what my self-employment business functions/limitations may be or entail since I have no facility to work in, and given any physical/mental restrictions. Can you assist me with information or the qualifications regarding unemployment? Thank you.
A) It’s important to note that individuals with criminal records and/or disabilities are protected under federal and state laws from discrimination in the workplace. You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services through your state’s Department of Labor or other agencies that can provide job training and placement assistance tailored to your abilities and limitations.
Regarding your self-employment business, you may want to consider reaching out to local organizations that offer small business assistance and resources, such as the Small Business Administration or SCORE. They may be able to provide guidance on how to restart your business in a way that accommodates your disabilities and limitations.
Additionally, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which are federal programs that provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities who are unable to work. To determine your eligibility for these programs, you should contact your local Social Security office or visit the Social Security Administration website.
Lastly, you may want to consult with a local attorney who specializes in disability and/or criminal law to discuss your specific situation and explore your legal options.
Social Security offers an online disability application you can complete at your convenience. Apply from the comfort of your home or any location at a time most convenient for you. You do not need to drive to your local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative.
Due to the fact the each state administrates their unemployment benefit program differently and has different eligibility requirements it’s always best to visit your state website to view that information. After viewing the you can (on some State’s Unemployment Website) .