“You do what?!!!” I am a working mom of a differently-abled daughter.

Throughout my life, I have always worked. I grew up on a farm and had to milk the cows before school, and finish the day with chores in the evening. Eventually as I got older, I traded the farm for an engineering degree. I was 28 years old working in high tech when I found out my 4-week old baby was different. My perfect world had become a world of chaos and challenges.

I spent the next 8 years caring for Kayla and working with my employers to allow some creativity and flexibility in my schedule. I needed to work to keep my sanity as well as maintain our health insurance. Sometimes I worked 6am-2pm, or Wednesday to Sunday, or remotely from the hospital in order to juggle both work and Kayla’s needs.

Today, Kayla is 23 years old. She has complex medical needs and has been diagnosed with Mitochondrial disease and Trio. She is one of 20 people diagnosed with Trio world-wide.

In order to juggle work, caring for Kayla, and a household; I learned to be organized and creative with time management. Everything is run by a project plan. I learned a lot from advocating for Kayla and managing my desire to continue to work in high tech. During this time of learning, my desire to work shifted from the small start-up mentality to a more corporate vision.

In 2003, I joined EMC, now Dell. I was very upfront in the hiring process about Kayla and her needs, stating, “this is my life, but with Dell’s support, I can give you 110% and do a fantastic job.” I did not want to work for a company that wouldn’t support my need for a work-life balance. By being open about my personal story, it has allowed me to help others.

I have taken my knowledge of disability topics and personal experiences to be a leader in our True Ability Employee Resource Group (ERG). Issues like: accessibility, accommodations, benefits, caregiving, self-id, mentoring, hiring practices, and neurodiversity are relevant to the Dell employees and culture at this company.

I often think that I work to keep my personal identity and not just be a “special-needs mom.” I am glad to work for a company that invests in its employees, and that the culture and diversity within reflects our customers, vendors, and partners.

My life is still an insane balancing act. People always ask me how I do it; my response is, “I don’t know anything else.”

The following strategies have helped me to balance work while raising a special needs child:

  • Find support with a family, friend, or respite center. There are days when you have a big meeting and might need a backup caregiver. Dell provides a benefit that allows all employees to have a set number of days for backup care.
  • Talk to your employer. There might be a different position that can accommodate your needs, flexibility, and stress. Make a list of suggestions to guide the conversation.
  • Talk to your benefits team. They may have resources and benefits to assist. For example, Dell has a fantastic autism benefit. Employees who do not have a child with autism might not realize it exists unless they need it.
  • Ask for help! Your company’s ERGs are a great resource. 



For more information on Dell’s
commitment to diversity and inclusion
(including caretakers) click here



Meet the Work Without Limits Team: Stephanie Major

What is your name, title and role with Work Without Limits? My name is Stephanie Major and I am a Data Entry Clerk for UMass Medical School. I provide administrative support to Work Without Limits and particularly the Benefits Counseling team.

How long have you held this position?  I have held this position for 8 years. I started out working 2 days per week and now I work 4 days per week.

Stephanie working at her desk, photographed by DisabilityImages.com

What is the best part of your job? I love managing spreadsheets and databases!

Do you have any special skills, interests or hobbies? I am an avid Red Sox fan, and I enjoy social media such as Facebook.

What is your best advice for job seekers? Never give up!

Stephanie greeting attendees at the Raise the Bar HIRE!
2014 Conference with colleague Brian Forsythe

What is your best advice for employers seeking a more inclusive and/or diverse workforce? Keep an open mind about hiring people with disabilities. 

What is your favorite place in the world? Work Without Limits.

For more information on Work Without Limits
Benefits Counseling or the AEN click here



‘Where is the help? I want to work!’

Ever since I began working as a trained and certified Community Work Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) providing benefits counseling to individuals with disabilities, the conversation always starts with these questions:

  • “Can I work?”
  • “How much I can work?”
  • “What will happen to my benefits?”

Individuals often feel frustrated because they don’t know where to get accurate and timely answers to their employment questions around how working might impact their public benefits. The Work Without Limits Benefits Counseling and the Work Without Limits Administrative Employment Network (AEN) are FREE consumer programs specifically in place to alleviate that frustration and to provide answers to those questions!

These 2 programs, funded by Social Security, train and certify staff to provide accurate information and strategies to individuals with disabilities that, with proper planning, YES, you can work!

Many individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) do not understand how earnings are counted, how to maintain benefits like health insurance and, in many cases, how to maintain their Social Security benefits while working a waged job.

There is a saying that applies here – Information is Power! “But where can I get the information?” you may ask. Individuals want to have the necessary information to feel comfortable in taking the next step on their career path and towards financial well-being.

Work Without Limits Benefits Counseling and AEN programs employ trained and certified Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) (also referred to as benefits specialists) who provide up-to-date and clear answers to questions about how benefits are affected by earnings. Our CWICs have developed fact sheets that clarify, in plain and simple terms, what to expect and what to do when working with regard to your benefits. For example, our fact sheets have reminders about the importance of reporting earnings every month by providing copies of paystubs to the local Social Security office. This is critical in order to avoid under- or over-payments.  We have three regionalized CWICs that are available to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Whether you are getting an increase in wages and need clarification about the impact on your benefits, considering a job offer and need to make a decision whether to accept or not, or are being offered employer health insurance and not sure if you should take it; we can help!

Don’t let the myths you have heard regarding your Social Security or health benefits stop you from getting the correct answers. Contact us today!!

For more information regarding
Benefits Counseling or additional information
on the AEN Ticket to Work Program click here

For our resources click here

Or Call toll-free 1-877-YES-WORK (1-877-937-9675)

The Massachusetts Business Leadership Network is now Disability:IN Massachusetts

This year marks Work Without Limits’ (WWL) 10 year anniversary and a change to the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN)! Always remaining true to our mission of increasing the employment rate of individuals with disabilities, we have experienced new growth opportunities year over year and 2018 is certainly no different!

Take a look at some of our growth here and the upcoming changes in 2018:

  • 2010 – WWL established the B2B Network with federal grant resources – 5 employers serve as WWL Business Advisory Council (BAC)
  • 2012 – WWL establishes Corporate Sponsorship and Individual Professional Membership Model to sustain funding beyond federal grant
  • 2016 – WWL B2B Network officially becomes the Massachusetts affiliate of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN)
  • 2018 – The USBLN rebrands to Disability:IN and our affiliate name changes to Disability:IN Massachusetts

Disability:IN Massachusetts is a network of employers committed to diversity and inclusion and who are interested in building capacity to include people with disabilities in their companies as employees, customers, and suppliers. We offer opportunities for employers to learn from, and connect with each other to build confidence, competence and success when employing people with disabilities. Sponsorship of WWL includes membership in Disability:IN Massachusetts.

The new affiliate name is part of a rebranding effort at the national level — USBLN has rebranded as Disability:IN and we are proud to be part of the network of Affiliates around the United States promoting disability inclusion in the workplace. The organization’s 40+ Affiliates across the country will be joining in the effort of creating a more unified brand to bring more awareness of the importance of including people with disabilities throughout the workforce, supply chain, and market place. Companies that hire people with disabilities are not only demonstrating good corporate citizenship, but benefit from a more inclusive culture. This diversity of talent has been shown to lead to improved innovation and decision-making, as well as more accessible products and services which open markets to a wider audience of consumers.

Our new name will also help us clearly and concisely help tell the story of the impact we make in our local community.

Here’s what we’ll look like from now on:

lthough we’ll have a new name and a new look, our partnership will remain the same:

  • Our purpose remains the same
  • Our model and operations remains the same

What will change:

  • Our MABLN members are now Disability:IN Massachusetts members
  • We will use the hashtag #DisabilityINMass

Disability:IN Massachusetts is proud to be playing an integral role in supporting businesses and people with disabilities throughout the state as they realize their full potential. We promote best practices, hold events, and connect with businesses that are looking to hire people with a range of talent and abilities.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We are thrilled to have you on this journey with us, and thank you for joining us, and our current network, at the table when we ask, “Are you IN?”

To become a Disability:
IN Massachusetts member click here