54 million Americans, or 19% of the U.S. population has a disability. Studies show that over 1 in 4 of Americans will become disabled before reaching age 67.
In Missouri alone just under one million people are disabled – about 16.9% of the population. Coping with a disability during daily life can be stressful enough by itself, but quite often these people are faced with additional challenges that extend beyond the disability.
One of the most significant obstacles is financial security, especially in a tough economy. However, there is hope and assistance for Missourians as long as you are armed with the proper information and take the right steps.
The first thing that you will need to do – usually with the help of your doctors – is determine how severely your disability is going to impact your ability to work. Millions of disabled Americans have a disability that does not preclude them from carrying out their assigned job duties.
There are several things you can do to help find work and increase your chances of being hired. Even if you are capable of working with your disability you may qualify for some types of assistance including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration which pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.
If your disability is severe enough to prevent you from being able to work at all you may qualify for additional types of services and assistance including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration. In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits you must be able to substantiate a claim for total disability with the Social Security Administration.
Under the SSA’s guidelines, in order to be considered totally disabled you must have been unable to work for a year or longer due to a long-term or permanently disabling condition. Depending on the cause of your disability you may also qualify for Workers Compensation benefits as well. In Missouri, injured workers are entitled to both medical and disability benefits.
Once you have determined what resources are appropriate for your particular situation you must work with the agencies to provide them with the appropriate information. When applying for Social Security disability benefits “proper documentation is extremely important whether you are a first time applicant or have been denied benefits and are applying for reconsideration,” according to the site www.
You will need medical evidence including reports from your treating doctors, medical records, evidence from social workers and welfare agencies, employer records, and other documentation to help substantiate your claim. In addition, you may be required to undergo additional medical testing.
The Foundation Center is another helpful resource available to persons with disabilities. Their website collects funding directories useful to individuals with disabilities and the nonprofit organizations that support them. The list contains citations to print resources, as well as links to web sites and online resources from a variety of public and private organizations. Using their resources you can find assistance for everything from short-term emergency expenses to fund to purchase adaptive equipment like wheelchairs, ramps, shower chairs etc. There are even resources available to help disabled persons who wish to become entrepreneurs.
Living with a disability is a daily challenge but it doesn’t have to become a financial one as well. With the right knowledge and resources you can still achieve financial security while living with your disability.
Do you know of other types of assistance available? Please let us know in the comments.
Contributed by Amanda.