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Immediate Steps for Possible Benefits
If you have long been in the workforce, but have recently become disabled, it’s clear that your world has suddenly changed in a big way. Among other pressing concerns, you may be worried about how you are going to get by financially. If you are unable to work, the first step you can take down this path is to find out what benefits you may qualify for—there are systems in place for people in your situation.
If you became disabled on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation (which varies by state). Some states also offer public disability insurance, which will assist you if you have been paying into their program. Finally, those who have been paying into Social Security, and who are unable to work for 12 (consecutive) months due to a disability, should qualify for benefits from that program.
For help filing a claim, you can speak with a Flint Social Security Disability lawyer. The process can be quite complicated, so it’s worth getting legal advice: social security decides whether or not you are disabled regardless of what your doctor says. It can take up to five months to receive a decision, and sometimes claims are initially denied (though you may appeal). On the plus side, it may surprise you to learn that you can enroll in Medicare after two years of receiving Social Security disability benefits, even if you are not yet of retirement age.
Looking Ahead and Returning to Work
There is no shame in applying for benefits while you are unable to work, but of course it’s natural to be hopeful about returning to work one day. According to the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, about a third of disabled Americans aged 21-64 are in fact employed. Moreover, it is illegal for employers (barring some small employers) from discriminating against those with disabilities. You may be able to return to your old job in exactly the same capacity as before, or your work life may look completely different after becoming disabled.
If you are looking for a completely new job, you may want to try GettingHired, which is an online resource for finding employment that suits your skills and needs as a disabled person. Some federal agencies actually have incentives to hire workers with disabilities, and the application process for these agencies is thus often streamlined. You may also consider working from home and/or becoming self-employment, especially if your disability involves fatigue or difficulty moving around.
As goes for all job-seekers, volunteering can be a good way to explore a field that interests you, and help get your foot in the door. Volunteer positions are also usually more flexible than paid positions, which may make them an attractive stepping-stone on your way to another job. Regardless of what you choose, remember that you have many abilities in addition to your disability, and that there is help available to you from many avenues.
- Social Security: Disability Planner
- WebMD: When Disability Strikes Unexpectedly
- Employment and Disability Institute (Cornell University): Disability Statistics
- Office of Disability Employment Policy: Employment Rights
- Job Accommodation Network (Office of Disability Employment Policy): Finding a Job That is Right for You