Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Richard Roessler

Committee Member

Brent Williams

Second Committee Member

Daniel Kissinger

Third Committee Member

Lynn Koch

Fourth Committee Member

Wallace D. Gitchel


Disability, Employment, Rehabilitation


Employment has become an integral aspect of American society. Each year, millions of Americans engage in job search as a result of economic conditions, involuntary job loss, completion of their education, or the desire to pursue a new career opportunity. However, the employment reality for persons with disabilities remains stark. In 2012 the employment rate of working-age people with disabilities was 32.7 percent, compared to 73.6 percent for those without disabilities. Given the long-standing employment gap between persons with disabilities and those without disabilities, this exploratory research utilizes the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to predict determinates of Social Security Administration (SSA) beneficiaries job search intentions. This study retained five of the eight variables related to the TPB and provides insight into the barriers that individuals with disabilities face. Specifically, beneficiaries identified (a) they were not working because they could not find a job they were qualified for; (b) previous attempts were discouraging; (c) employers would not give an opportunity; (d) they were not limited by a physical or mental condition, and (e) they were not prevented due to their physical or mental condition. As this is the first study to utilize the TPB with a SSA beneficiary population, it provides a rationale for the need to conduct further investigations regarding the constructs of the theory and related interventions to close the employment gap experienced by persons with disabilities.