How Should I Answer the Disability Question on Job Applications? Your Disclosure Questions, Answered


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Finding a job is tough as it is. When you're dealing with a disability, you might wonder if it will affect your potential employer's decision to hire you. You could end up deciding to forego telling them about the disability altogether, but should you?

We've got the answer if you're wondering "how should I answer the disability question on job applications?" It depends on the job, the disability, and the context.

Let's get started.

How Should I Answer the Disability Question on Job Applications?

As a rule, an employer isn't able to discriminate against you being hired because of a disability. Of course, there are some positions that require a specific set of physical skills or abilities, but those positions will be upfront about those skills. 

If a disability is going to greatly reduce your ability to perform job duties, you should disclose that to an employer if they ask you. With that said, many disabilities pose no issue for job performance. 

It's a pretty complex issue. There are a number of factors that affect the situation for employers and employees alike. A big question is "how much can I reasonably ask the employer to do to accommodate a disability?"

What to Expect From Employers

There are laws in place to protect you from being denied a position on the basis of your disability. If you are a person who is qualified to perform a job, your disability should not be a factor in the hiring process. 

With that said, some disabilities require employers to make a number of accommodations to support your work. Let's say that you are visually impaired to some degree. 

If an employer knows that, they are required to make reasonable accommodations to you. This applies to the application process as well. If you're visually impaired, employers must utilize screen readers or some other means of helping you engage with application materials. 

If you're hired, the employer is also expected to assist with accommodations for you to perform work duties. If you disclose the disability to the employer, they are required to do these things.

You Don't Have to Disclose the Disability

If you'd rather not disclose the disability, you don't have to. You're not legally obligated to tell employers that you have a disability if you don't want to, but this might be a mistake. 

There may be no reason that your disability would interfere with your work. Let's say that you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but you're medicated or you've learned to manage the illness. 

Disclosing that information might be a stressful thing to do. People might not understand your illness and make assumptions about it, thereby tainting their perspective of you. 

They might imagine that you're going to be very obsessive about things, constantly clean, or have a hard time stepping over cracks. While this isn't your case, you're still aware that people have that perception. 

In that case, you're justified in keeping that information to yourself because it poses little advantage to disclose the information.

If You Might Need Accommodations

The previous example was one of a person who wouldn't likely need accommodations for their disability. 

If, however, your disability could require accommodations, you should tell your employer. If you don't disclose a disability, an employer has no responsibility to make any adjustments to the work environment to help you perform work duties. 

When you disclose, you open up your rights to be reasonably assisted in the workplace. 

What You Should Disclose

It should be clear at this point that you have no legal obligation to disclose your disability. If the issue won't interfere with your work, it may be better to forego telling your employer about it. 

If it could get more severe and require you to have workplace assistance, it might be a good idea to disclose the information. But how much information do you have to disclose?

If you start to tell an employer about the disability are you forced to tell them everything in order to get the accommodations? No, you are not. 

You only have to tell your employer as much as you feel is necessary. You don't need to go into specific medical terminology, give subjective accounts of your experience, or go into any more detail than you want to. You can even choose to avoid questions if you like. 

Telling your employer about a disability to any degree is entirely up to you. The degree to which you get workplace help, however, depends on how much you disclose. But how much help can you expect?

"Undue Hardship"

The expectation placed upon employers ends at the point of "undue hardship." This is generally the point at which accommodations become to difficult to support. 

Whether this means that help is too expensive or the workplace can't reasonably support it, there's a point at which accommodations are not possible for some businesses. 

In most cases, undue hardship applies to applicants and employees for small business. When a business doesn't have the resources to accommodate disabilities, it's more reasonable for them to state their inability to help.

Larger corporations and businesses don't have the same alibi and can be expected to provide a good deal of help to their disabled employees. It's tough to decide what is reasonable and what isn't, though, because there's no clear guidebook. 

The situations must be gauged in a case-by-case fashion. This is to the benefit of the disabled employee because it exposes employers who aren't holding up their end of the bargain. 

Want to Learn More About Job Hunting?

"How should I answer the disability question on job applications?" 

The answer is, it's up to you. You have the law behind you, and what you expect from employers is entirely based on what information you tell them. If you don't think disclosing the disability is important, you don't have to. 

We understand that the job market is a complicated place, and there are some things that not everyone knows. If you're looking for more tips and tricks for getting hired, visit our site for the information you need.