Ch 18: Getting Help · disability planning

Does Disabled Mean Unemployable?

My nine year old is eligible for a disability savings plan that will grant him $10,500 per year for his long term disability needs. I don’t think I’ll apply, though, because I’m sure he’ll be able to work.

One of the most common reasons I see for people avoiding a disability designation is this: They see themselves (or their child) as employable.

In fact, most disability programs do too! Most actively encourage working, whether full-time in an accommodated environment, part-time, flexibly, from home, or through self-employment. They acknowledge that a person can have a disability and be entirely sharp, hardworking, and productive.

So, if you have a disability, or your child does, but you are avoiding that designation for fear that this will somehow correlate with a chronic lack of employment, consider releasing this fear. Pursue the designation so that you can access the various supports that come with it, read each program’s laws and policies related to employment and earnings, and then find or create the niche employment that fits well with your disability and disability pension.

People with disabilities work in programming, editing, writing, cleaning, reception, farming, teaching, administration, and so on. One man I know is fully blind and works full-time in disability services (and also does woodwork and mows his own lawn). A man I know has profoundly affected speech and challenged mobility; he works as a lawyer. Even with their intelligence, drive, and capacity, they are eligible for a disability designation and support. Why?

Having a disability costs money: ortheses, special diets, prescriptions not covered by any medical plan, accessible or quiet housing, speech therapy, care aides, and so on. The extra costs and need for extra time or accommodation is why programs exist, not because it is assumed you are unemployable. Accept help with these extra costs, then optimize all income sources to cover the rest and to save for your future.

My son is designated disabled via his diagnosis of autism. He is also one of the hardest working people I know. While I fully anticipate he will continue working well into his adulthood, I also apply for every support—short term and long term—available to him. A disability support does not assume a person is useless, incapable, or unemployable. It simply recognizes that he faces some unique challenges and supplies him with a bit of a buffer accordingly.

If you have an ongoing struggle with thinking, functioning, pain, or other aspect of daily living—whether intermittent as with multiple sclerosis or mental illness, or 24/7 as with hearing impairment—look for a disability advocate in your region to help you locate services (financial and otherwise) available to you.

For help finding a quality advocate, please see my book Rising.

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