In the current economic downturn many of us are struggling to make ends meet. Salaries remain stagnant, lay-offs are all-too frequently in the news and financial security is a worry for everyone. For those of us with a disability, our financial position may feel particularly precarious especially in the light of recent benefit caps and cuts. However, with a bit of research and planning, we can lead a financially secure existence.
Take advantage of college financial aid programs
A college degree is a great way to improve your skills and give you much greater scope for employment. University courses are expensive though and the cost can prove too high a hurdle for some who already have to spend out on support and medical aid. Luckily, there is financial support available for those with disabilities who wish to further their education. Most colleges offer financial assistance programs for students with disabilities and you should take advantage of what’s on offer in your area. Scholarships, loans and grants are also out there to be had for disabled students.
Vocational rehabilitation also ensures the availability of financial aid and facilities for disabled students to help them get into employment. This includes paid training for particular jobs, work placements, transportation and commuting facilities, specialist equipment and regular progress reviews.
A professional financial advisor, state agency or the financial aid office at your university or school will be able to advise you on what’s available.
Focus on your main strength
When it comes to finding a profession that suits you and your disability, concentrate your energies on something you really excel at and make yourself even better. Too many people are stuck in jobs they loathe purely because they pay and when you have a disability to cope with too, the last thing you need is a job you hate. It’s also the case that if you work at something you really enjoy, you’ll do well anyway because you have the enthusiasm for it. I used to be a legal secretary but found it tedious and boring; now I write full-time and earn extra money by judging dressage competitions. I might not have as much disposable income but I love what I do.
Let your family help you
If your family wants to do their bit to help and support you financially, don’t turn them away through misplaced pride. Many parents set up trusts for their children and these can be really helpful should an emergency arise and government benefits are insufficient.
Accept public aid
The government has a number of different benefits available to help those with disabilities. Some cover medical care, community services and housing and it’s important that you check if you’re eligible for any of this assistance. If you became disabled as a result of an accident, you may be able to claim assistance from the guilty party or through your employer. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask the authorities for financial help if you are struggling. Too many people are put off by the complicated form-filling and administrational hoops they have to jump through in order to claim any financial aid. Don’t be; if it’s money you are entitled to; claim it.
Whether you’re disabled or not, it’s important to try to have some savings. Great news if you are disabled though; the ABLE Act offers those with disabilities (in the US) to have special savings accounts where you can save up to $100,000 without losing social security benefits and Medicaid.
The more independent you can make yourself, the more secure your financial future will be. Accept the financial assistance and benefits available to you by all means, but acquire a skill or qualification, get a good job, cover your expenses and get mobile too. This way you will not be dependent on your family or the government which is great not only for your future but for your self-respect too.