How to Cope with Being Newly Disabled

Three Methods:Looking After YourselfFiling for DisabilityFacing Lower Income

This article is about going on disability, and coping with being newly poor. It may help you to better understand if your health issues are bad enough to seek disability.

Method 1
Looking After Yourself

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    Recognize that a disability means changes, but it won't ruin everything. Many disabled people can live happy and meaningful lives.
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    Keep all your doctors' appointments. A doctor can help you evaluate your condition and find ways to keep your health in good shape. Don't give up and start skipping them now.
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    Tell the people around you the truth. It will make for a better situation if they understand how difficult this is for you.
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    Get a strong support network. It's important to have people around you who care about you and can help you through hard times. Open up to them. It's okay to be vulnerable, and it's okay to ask for support. In the long run, you will be glad you did.
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    Meet the disabled community. People with disabilities get together on the internet, in support groups, and through disability organizations. Find other people who are going through similar situations, so you can share advice and support each other.
    • They can show you by example that it's possible to be happy and disabled at the same time.
    • Consider getting involved in a disability advocacy organization if you feel strongly about it.
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    Maintain your hobbies or get a new one. It might be the perfect time to experience something you were always meaning to do.

Method 2
Filing for Disability

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    Understand that disability is not the same as going on unemployment. One day, should you become injured or sick enough, you may need to face a disability. It is a drastic life changer.
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    Consider these questions: What would happen to you if you could no longer care or afford what you once considered a basic necessity? Do you have money put away in an account? Do you have a place to live safely, with no threat of losing your home? Can you count on your parents/friends/other family members? Have that discussion now.
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    If you have no family nearby, you will need to turn to friends. It may be hard to do.
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    Talk to a lawyer, if you deem it necessary. You may need to seek paid legal help. Lawyers can pick which cases they will take. The good ones work on a percentage, but others may want a lot upfront to help you.
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    File for disability. Filling for disability on your own is not easy, but you can do it. (It is a necessity if you don't have any income.) You will need to visit all of your main doctors and have them fill out a report. Getting copies of your medical records may cost you a fee and it will take time. Find out if there is a best time of month to submit the completed paperwork.
    • A decision about your disability can take 3-12 months or more. Enclose a well written letter explaining your health issues and how you had worked as long as possible. Your application will be evaluated by "their" doctor(s). The doctor will ask you several questions and it will only take about fifteen minutes. Then you wait to hear something.

Method 3
Facing Lower Income

Some disabled people are unable to support themselves or hold a job. If this is the case for you, find ways to use less money.

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    Learn to live within a budget. If you are approved for disability you may expect to have only a fraction of your income to live on. Check into your benefits and get the facts for your own situation. Is going on disability your only option?
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    Stop eating out. Pay your rent, taxes, water and power bills first. Your secondary bills can wait.
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    Evaluate living with pets and decide if you can afford them with your new lower income. Many people feel their pets are a companion they can't be without, but they need food and medical care too. On the other hand, it is often difficult to find someone who will take an older cat or dog.
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    Find discounts when you can. Stock up on sale items, buy clothes only at the end of the season, drive your car until it drops, go to discount food stores, use coupons, or buy sale products in bulk.
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    Turn down the heat and AC as low as you can. Treat yourself to one thing you can't live without, (such as TV, computer, and phone) and substitute that cost for something else (such as entertainment).
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    Skip the name brands, make your own Christmas and birthday gifts, learn to trade, barter, swap chores with friends and neighbors so you don't have to pay a repair technician.
    • If you can make handmade items, participate in free craft shows to sell your work.
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    Look for ways to get things for free. See if the gym has a slow day/time you can get in for just an hour for free, use the library computers, DVDs, books, magazines. Go for walks, listen to the radio, enjoy nature, help a child to read, volunteer, call a friend, offer to go to the grocery for some elderly friend if you are able. Re-organize your stuff and donate unused items.
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    Break it to the kids. Mom is no longer the ATM. (Don't be surprised if you need the kids to pay a bill to avoid a disconnect.) It's okay!

Tips

  • Donate some of your surplus stuff (items you no longer use) to charity.
  • Food pantries are available at many churches.
  • Some food pantries have pet food.

Warnings

  • Follow the rules for receiving government/or other assistance. Don't do something to risk your benefits.

Article Info

Categories: Disability Issues