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New online tool aims to assist Coloradans with disabilities explore careers

girl is sitting in the room while learning new lesson via online

JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine has helped spearhead a new web-based resource now available to support Coloradans with disabilities in exploring career options and increasing financial independence by calculating how employment and earnings interact with benefits.

Colorado Disability Benefits 101 (DB101) is an initiative led by the Colorado Office of Employment First, an organization housed in JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Colorado DB101 is the result of collaboration among Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Colorado’s Employment First Advisory Partnership, Colorado Association of People Supporting Employment First and many other stakeholders.

Colorado DB101 is an online tool aimed to assist individuals with disabilities in estimating how work will impact Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), and other benefits. Using the tool’s estimator functions, Coloradans can determine a career path best suited to increase their financial independence. This tool will also lead users to access the resources throughout the state that can support the pursuit of their career path.

“It is essential that individuals with disabilities in Colorado have access to a resource, such as DB101, which supports their ability to live their fullest lives possible; to change the culture in Colorado so that more people with disabilities know they can work and are afforded the necessary information to make such decisions,” says Sandra Friedman, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of JFK Partners. “This endeavor is emblematic of the mission of JFK Partners and the Colorado Office of Employment First, and we are proud to be part of this effort.”

‘It is essential that individuals with disabilities in Colorado have access to a resource, such as DB101, which supports their ability to live their fullest lives possible.’ – Sandra Friedman, MD, MPH

Development of Colorado DB101 has been a priority for years in efforts to bolster the employment of individuals with disabilities. The process began with the passage of legislation making Colorado an Employment First state and creating the Employment First Advisory Partnership. The goal is to make competitive employment the first option for individuals with disabilities who want to work. While many Coloradans with disabilities may fear the potential of losing critical benefits should employment status change, the development of Colorado DB101 aims to give those individuals a tool to help explore career options while maximizing financial independence.

The Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has supported bringing DB101 to the state to promote the exploration of employment by persons with disabilities. Kristin Corash, director, states, “The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation believes that people with disabilities are essential to a working economy in Colorado. When people with disabilities fully understand how working interacts with the various public benefits they receive, they can confidently start on a career path out of poverty. We are committed to promoting a thriving employment environment for people with disabilities, and with the support of DVR’s federal VR grant and state funds, we are thrilled that DB101 is now available in Colorado.”

DB101 is now live and available for public use in English and Spanish. Coloradans can access the resource by visiting https://co.db101.org.

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