I'd love for this to be a lovely, comprehensive post but in reality, it won't. I have too much to take care of today.
But I wanted to quickly address this excellent post that is making waves in the Ds Community on Facebook today: Answers Left Unquestioned with some links that shed light on ways in which you can work and retain your social security benefits:
Disability Benefits 101.org: bookmark this site, everyone. It's the single most useful site you are going to find about benefits, anywhere. It's run out of the World Institute on Disability (- and a quick bit of history here – WID was directed by Kathy Martinez, who is now the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability and Employment Policy, ODEP).
If you are wondering what to do if you are not one of the states highlighted in db101.org, that's where you need to wonder – and do more, take action. The system is outrageously inefficient and desperately needs an overhaul.
But you do need to know – those of you that this matters to – that there are loops. That you can work if you have a disability and you can maintain your benefits. But it's not easy to nail down all the conditions and why's and where-hows that make it possible. Benefits counseling is a god-send with this – again, check db101.org to find out more about that.
More links that you should have bookmarked:
DREDF: Disability Rights Education Defense Fund. You want to stay connected with them because of their policy and legal arms
DRA: Disability Rights Advocates. Same as above. DRA sues people – remember all that love smothering Target for being great with disability? Um, well, DRA sued them for not being so great – Target cleaned up their act, got with it, and now is drenched in accolades. Go, DRA!
CIL: Center for Independent Living: these usually always have a benefits planner in residence. Get to know him/her! Bring them cookies and lavish them with love because the Lord knows they never make what they are worth. Gold, people. GOLD.
Ticket to Work: This is a program through Social Security to try and ease people into work by providing counseling, support, trial work periods and more. It can be helpful.
Disability.gov: A huge site. They are trying to streamline and it's getting easier to find your way around it. In fact, I just went to check it out again I'm impressed! They've really changed it! Well done, tax dollars. Well done. Bookmark it. They've even got sweet n' neat links to places like the Job Accomodation Network (JAN), which is an extremely helpful site for people with disabilities who are going through the job search process.
Paul Longmore's Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability."The title essay, which concludes the book, demonstrates the necessity of activism for any disabled person who wants access to the American dream" – because if his book was published and he made over X amount of money on it, he'd lose his benefits. But then what happens down the line?
While we are at it, take a look at some other books. These span a range within disability studies and activism and will help anyone who wants a greater understanding of disability, the system, and how change might be affected.
I want to encourage you to read her post, so here it is again: Answers Left Unquestioned. Because the one thing we can't do to much of, really, is ask questions
Because one thing is for damn sure: our system does precious little for genuinely encouraging people with disabilities to work by linking assets to health care.
One more note: Cornell University researchers will present the latest information and issues associated with disability statistics and the circumstances that people with disabilities face.Tune in: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/index.cfm?event=4152
Thoughts? Questions? Resources?
Please comment so we can all learn more!
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.