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How do you know you are “disabled?”

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How do you know you are “disabled?”

Living with a chronic illness that slowly (or quickly) takes away your ability to walk, talk, sit, stand, reach, bend, grasp, hear, see, or limits your ability to live life in any way is difficult to comprehend, let alone live with the realities of the everyday challenges. When you experience a sudden change, there are usually doctors, nurses, hospitals, and rehab centers involved which can help you navigate through the vast array of services and morass of related paperwork. When you lose your abilities slowly, due to a chronic or progressive illness, the line between ability and disability is not so easy to see.

As you slowly lose your abilities, as I did, you have to come to terms with each loss, no matter how big or small, and reevaluate that aspect of your life. Eventually, someone you know will suggest you apply for disability. Believe me, when that happens, your brain will kick into overtime and start defending your abilities big time. It will conjure up images of people confined to bed or using walkers or wheelchairs and scream, “I am NOT like them. I’m not ‘that bad.’ I can still do ... I am NOT disabled!”  Yet, a tiny voice way in the back may nag you about no longer being able to do this or that, and how sadly, your limitations are affecting your ability to live and work.

So, how do you know when your abilities reach a point of disability? Perhaps, like me it is when you can no longer do some essential aspect of your job — I was a teacher of the Deaf and had trouble finger spelling; for a friend it was when she couldn’t walk into any work atmosphere without having a serious allergic reaction. It is not easy to come to the realization of and then accept the fact that you are no longer able and thus you are disabled. ACKKK!

Once you do, then you have the responsibility (and the challenge) of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Everyone who has worked has “paid into the system” and thus are eligible for payments should they no longer be able to work because of physical, sensory, cognitive, or mental limitations.  Don’t be so stubborn or prideful that you miss out on this important safety net for making ends meet when you can no longer work.

For a list of steps to take when you or a loved one reaches the point where disability exceeds ability, see 7 Steps for Applying for Disability Benefits at www.MakingLifeEasier.com; select Top Tips: Working with a Disability.

Make peace with your abilities, see the benefits of applying for disability, follow the steps and apply, and if your application is denied, turn to an attorney who specializes in disability cases, and never, never give up.

Do you have a story about applying for disability benefits or additional tips to share? I’d like to hear about them. Email Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com or start a conversation on my Blog at www.MakingLifeEasier.com.

©2012 Meeting Life’s Challenges, LLC         www.MakingLifeEasier.com
For reprint permission contact Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com



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