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Home based work can allow people living after a diagnosis the ability to earn money ranging from a little to a lot on your own schedule and without regard to how you look at the moment. Thanks to the computer revolution, 1 in 10 workers work on their own at home. 

If you are thinking about working at home, consider the following subjects, each of which are discussed in other sections of this article. If you are considering working at home to tele-commute to work or as an accommodation to help you do your job, click here.

NOTE: Employment Options, Inc, is an online employment agency specializes in working with people who want to work at home - particularly people who are receiving SSDI or disability based SSI.

Are You Allowed To Work At Home?

If you live in a house:

Check local zoning. Can you have a work out of your house? Some areas prohibit all home-based businesses. Some others limit the amount of traffic, the number of signs, or the type of businesses you can operate from a home.

To learn about local zoning information, check on the web site for your local area. Or ask at your city hall, county clerk's office or public library to see a copy of the city or county zoning ordinance. If you to speak with local people, don't disclose your plans. Just ask about what you can and cannot do.

Is what you can do in your house subject to a homeowners' association? If so, check their rules.

If you live in a condominium or co-op or a rental apartment

Check the rules about operating a business out of your home.

If you're not allowed to have a business in your home, perhaps you can modify your operations to meet clients at their offices, and perhaps get a post office box or secretarial service to handle your mail.

What Will I Need To Be Able To Work From Home?

In order to work from home, you will need to set up a home office that permits you to do your job as well as people who work in an office. A list of basic needs follows:

  • Telephone
    • A dedicated work line -- which could be a mobile phone if you get good, secure reception. 
    • If you use a landline, an answering machine or a service in case you are not available.
    • Either a call waiting feature or understand that callers will get a busy signal when you are on the line.
  • You will likely need a computer sufficient to run a variety of programs, high speed internet access, and a video cam for some meetings. Depending on your needs, this could be a desk top, a lap top or possibly even a tablet or other mobile computing device.
  • Possibly a video camera, microphone and speakers for video calls and conferences.
  • Unless you are computer savvy, someone to maintain the computer and software for you.  When vetting people to take care of your computer, look at:
    • Expertise
    • Whether they have experience working with small businesses
    • How fast they can respond to emergencies. 
    • Whether they insist on coming to your house or can work remotely over the internet through such free connectiions as LogMeIn. offsite link
  • Office basics such as a desk, chair, and filing cabinet . You may also need the ability to scan and send and receive faxes.   (If you only would use a fax machine on rare ocassions, consider faxing through a web site such as offsite link rather than purchasing a machine and/or setting up a separate phone line.)
  • You will need a quiet place, free from intrusion, where you can set up a home office.


  • Be sure you consider the effect that other people, such as children, loved ones, or roommate(s), may have on your ability to work from home.
  • Consider getting a separate business phone line. A separate phone line will not only allow you to keep a better accounting of business related phone charges, it will also allow you to ignore business calls at the end of your work day.

Advantages To Working At Home

There are a lot of advantages to working at home. For instance, people who work at home:

  • Are generally their own boss.
  • Set their own hours.
  • Don't have to dress or commute.
  • Can do fulfilling work.
  • May get some tax breaks.
    • There may be a deduction for having a home office.
    • Health insurance premiums can be 100% deductible.
    • Long term care insurance premiums are deductible subject to IRS limits.
    • Subscriptions to business publications are deductible.
    • To learn more about taxes and working at home, click here.
  • Small business owners have access to tax-favored retirement accounts such as the individual 401(k).

On the downside, recognize that camaraderie is limited, and maybe even non-existent.  You will also have to worker harder to stay in the daily loop of what goes on at work.

Is Your Home Setting Appropriate For Work At Home?

A home based business changes the feel of a home. Be sure your spouse/significant other supports your idea, or at least doesn't oppose it.

When thinking about whether your home is an appropriate place for you to work in, consider the following:

  • Where you can work in the kind of atmosphere you need.
  • Where you can store your work equipment without fear it will be trashed -- or in the way.
  • Whether your residence can support your needs. For example, if you live in a rural area, can you get high speed internet access if you need it?

How To Find Work At Home

There are many type of work which can be done at home. If you don't have current marketable skills, consider volunteering in a manner that will cultivate skills that can transfer to a paid job. If you do volunteer, ask if the nonprofit group will provide you with a job reference.

A few examples of the types of opportunities available for people with no specific training to work at home are:

  • Virtual call centers/customer service agents. Many companies use people working at home to man their call centers. While foreign workers may be cheaper, American culture doesn't always translate. You will need a dedicated phone line and internet access. To find potential employers, search on such terms as "call center" and "customer service." Also check out the following examples: 
  • Make and sell crafts. In addition to local sales either to local stores or as a yard sale, you can sell them on the internet on such sites as offsite link.
  • Start an online store or sell items at online web sites such as, offsite offsite link or offsite link.. You don't have to own the merchandise or have a lot of money to start.  For example:
    • You can help friends sell their items and keep a commission of anywhere between 20% and 50%.
    • Find items in your area that are selling at below the national average. Make sure there are lots of the item available. Then you can advertise the item on your site. When you find a buyer, you can buy the item locally and ship it. (Make sure there is enough money involved to pay shipping cost and to give you a profit).
  • Medical coders translate doctors' written diagnoses and lists of procedures into the codes that insurance companies use for billing. Generally people need to qualify by passing an exam, which generally involves a 12-18 month course. For more information, call the American Academy of Professional Coders or see offsite link
  • Write Ethical Wills or resumes for people. For more information, see Ethical Wills.
  • If you have an expertise:
    • Consider tutoring both person-to-person and/or online. If you don't have special skills, perhaps you can teach a language you speak or other people how to do your hobby. For example, see offsite link  (It helps to have an impressive LinkedIn account.)
    • Answer questions online if you have expertise in any area. For instance, check out:
      • offsite link The site provides answers to questions. Applications are online.
      • offsite link You can answer questions from consumers or businesses. Applicants must take a subject matter test and submit to a background check.
  • Post content on blogs. Topics vary widely. For this type of job, see web sites such as:
  • Type a transcript from a recording. You generally get paid based on the amount you transcribe. For companies that hire home-based people to transcribe, see:

There are many web sites that help find part time work at home.  A few of the better known sites are:

At offsite link you can list things you are willing to do for $5.00. You get $4.00. The site gets $1.00.

Following are a few firms (in alphabetical order) that help find work for people who want to work at home. The list was compiled by the Wall Street Journal. We have not had had experience with any of these firms. 

How To Determine If A Work-At-Home Program Is Right For You  

The answers to the following questions may help you determine whether a work-at-home program is appropriate for your circumstances, and whether the claims can be realistic. Ask the promoter:

  • What tasks will I have to perform? (Ask the program sponsor to list every step of the job.)
  • Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on a commission?
  • Who will pay me?
  • When will I get my first paycheck?
  • What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment, and membership fees?
  • What will I get for my money?

Then ask yourself whether the claims are based on wishful thinking - or real market conditions.  

NOTE: Watch for sites that are scams and prey on people's desire to find work. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission legitimate work-at-home program sponsors should tell you in writing what's involved in the program they are selling

Before you commit, and defintely before you send any money, check to find out what the Better Business Bureau knows about the promoter. See: offsite link. Also check to see what other people who work at home have to say about a particular employer. For instance, look at:

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If I Want To Start A Business At Home, How Do I Figure Out Which Is Best For Me?

Even if money is really tight and you think you have to do anything that comes along to bring in an income, take some time to think about the things you're passionate about. Perhaps you can earn an income from it. For example, if you love painting or making hand made items, perhaps you do what you love and sell your work through such websites as offsite link.

If you need help thinking about what to do, consider the following ideas:

  • Contact National Association for the Self-Employed, offsite link or 202.466.2100.
  • Read through books such as:
    • 200 Best Home Businesses: Easy to Start, Fun to Run, Highly Profitable,by Katina Z. Jones offsite link, Adams Media Corporation offsite link 2005.
    • The Work-At-Home Sourcebook by Lynie Arden, Live Oaks Publications, 2005 specific information for finding, applying for, and getting home work from different companies.
    • Making Money with Your Computer at Home by Paul Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Penguin 2005.

If you have additional ideas to share, please do so on our Employment Message board.

How Will You Market Yourself Or Your Business If You Work At Home?

Keep in mind that one of the hardest parts of working for yourself is continuing to market your services when you're busy. This can be even more difficult when you work at home and have competing household needs.

Block out a minimum amount of time each day to work on marketing. For example, do it during the first work hour every day.

Contact Your Neighbors Before Starting A Business At Home

When you decide to move forward, let your neighbors know what you're doing.

  • Ask them to let you know if any part of the business becomes a problem.
  • If there are things you can anticipate that may affect the neighbors, tell them up front. For instance, if you are going to start a home recording studio, let neighbors know there will be no music before XX AM or after XX PM -- and that sound is controlled so no sound will leave the house.