Living with Disability

Disability doesn't just refer to permanent conditions, such as those that leave you confined to a wheelchair or unable to perform your normal activities. About 70% of adults over age 35 suffer a disability that lasts 3 months or longer.

Regardless of your level of disability, it's critical that you draw up a new household budget. Basic budgeting skills can help you track your income and expenses. You can use the following tips to get a complete picture of your current financial situation. Then make the appropriate changes. Be honest. Include all of your current expenses, and then find effective ways to cut back on non-essential items until your finances improve.

Maintaining control
The following are things to keep in mind as you deal with your financial situation.

  • Family resources:

Savings, investment interest, dividends or a spouse's paycheck can cover some of your monthly bills.

  • Sick pay:

Depending upon your employer, you may continue to receive your wages for a limited period.

  • Disability insurance:

Many employers offer some coverage. If yours doesn't–or you need to supplement what your company does provide–look into a private policy. You can replace up to 80% of your lost wages with disability insurance. Insurance must be purchased prior to your disability.

  • Workers' compensation:

You may be eligible if your illness or injury is job-related.

  • Social Security:

For details, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

  • Medicare:

This generally applies to people age 65 and older, but it also covers those under age 65 who are entitled to receive disability benefits under Social Security for 24 months, as well as individuals with severe kidney disease.

  • Medicaid:

This provides health services to people with low incomes. Although eligibility varies by state, you usually qualify if you're blind, disabled or a recipient of welfare or Social Security benefits.

Additional Resources
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the disabled in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodations, telecommunications, and other services offered by state and local governments. For specifics on the act, call the technical centers at the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-949-4232.

For more information, contact the National Council on Disability at or (202)-272-2004.