Let’s start the new year by educating and informing ourselves of the invaluable resources that are available to people with disabilities in the United States. Disability.gov, the federal government’s one-stop access website for disability-related resources, services, and information, has a plethora of guides that breaks down topics that matter those with disabilities, caregivers and families, and helping professionals who interact with this particular population.
With a new year comes new goals and dreams on how to improve one’s quality of life and livelihood. Disability.gov’s guides answer many of the most frequently asked questions surrounding how does one become eligible for disability benefits, where job training services are located in one’s community, as well as being informed about the housing assistance programs that those with disabilities can utilize.
The Disability.gov’s guide to disability benefits answers many burning questions about what is considered a “disability” by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria; the differences between SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Social Supplemental Income); what to do if your disability claim is denied; the programs that exist to assist people with disabilities who desire to return to work; and a host of other imperative subjects that matter to those who are seeking benefits. From personal experience, it can feel as if you are on a wild goose chase when seeking such answers when it comes to learning about your benefits; Disability.gov has done the work for you by providing detailed information on obtaining and maintaining the benefits that you may qualify for.
The guide to employment broaches such matters regarding the online job searching tools that can be helpful in finding employment opportunities; the new job trend of telecommuting, or working from home; how one’s disability benefits may be affected once employed; the legal rights of a prospective employee with a disability; etc. As the unemployment rate of people with disabilities rose to 12.3% in November 2013, and the labor force participation fell to 19.6%, the issues of seeking employment, sustaining employment, and figuring out how to keep one’s benefits (if possible) are undeniably on the consciousness of those with disabilities who want to earn a living.
The guide to housing provides details as to how to find an affordable place to live; what resources are available to make your living quarters accessible for your needs; advice on buying or renting a property; programs that can assist in paying rent; your housing rights as a person with a disability; and so forth. Obtaining an apartment, home, or form of housing is an empowering moment for a person with a disability. It means that you have a place and space to call your own, and this thrusts the door of independence wide open.
Disability.gov’s getting help in your community guide has information about programs and organizations in your area that provide key services and support when it comes to health care, resources for families in need of temporary financial assistance, and receiving aid to pay home heating bills (which is greatly needed during this time of year). This guide is especially useful for those who live in rural areas who may be unfamiliar with what is available to them outside of their town or county. This particular guide can also come in handy for social workers and other helping professionals when trying to locate appropriate resources for the clients they serve.
These guides are just a few options offered by Disability.gov that are available with just a click of the mouse. Review the “Guide Me” link to search for the information that pertains to your, or someone you know, specific needs. 2014 can be the year people with disabilities arm themselves with vital knowledge that will empower and enhance the well-being of their lives. Are you familiar with similar resources or guides that people with disabilities can employ in 2014? Share them with me, and I may feature your suggestion(s) in a future article on Social Work Helper.
(Featured headlining image: Courtesy of Disability Blog.)