Helpful Assistance Information for those with Disabilities
For those with disabilities financial security can be difficult.
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Fortunately, there are a number of programs and resources in place to help those suffering from disabilities.
As many as 20% of Americans have some sort of disability and about 10% of Americans have a severe disability.
This is according to a report by the U.S Census Bureau which defined disability as either communicative, mental or physical with specific criteria such as:
- Difficulty seeing, hearing, or speaking
- Learning, intellectual, or developmental impairment
- Alzheimer’s, senility or dementia
- A mental or emotional condition that seriously interferes with everyday activities
- Use of a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker
- Difficulty walking a quarter mile, climbing stairs, lifting 10 pounds, or getting in and out of bed
This is a fairly broad definition of disability and notably wider that the Social Security Administration’s definition of total disability.
However, it shows how common disability is and the importance of having a system in place to help people with disabilities. Most people will incur some sort of disability as they age. Over half of Americans over 65 have a disability. Because disability is so common, the economic consequences of disability are particularly discouraging.
For those with serious disabilities, it can be impossible to earn an income.
Simply getting to and from work can be an insurmountable challenge for individuals who can’t see or hear or have limited mobility; particularly if they live in an area without public transit. Further, disabled individuals face discrimination in the workplace. Employers are often hesitant to hire someone who may require special accommodations.
Only slightly over a quarter of those with severe disabilities are employed.
For the few disabled individuals who are working, median monthly wages are about three quarters of what non-disabled individuals make. It is easy to see how a lack of opportunities and low pay lead to high poverty rate among the disabled. Those with disabilities are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.
There are many programs and resources available to the disabled.
While these programs are often not enough to keep the disabled from slipping into poverty, they can offer some support.
The Texas Department Health and Human Services (HHS) has several resource centers throughout Texas.
You can find your local center here. These centers offer help with long-term care such as health monitoring, medication reminders, meal preparation, rides to doctors’ appointments etc… HHS has a complete listing of services available on their website.
Disability Rights Texas specializes in upholding the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against the disabled.
They may be able to help you if you feel you have been discriminated against while seeking employment, housing, health care, education or transportation.
The Arc offers services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
They focus on helping disabled individuals get and hold a job. They offer training, transportation and assisted living. In addition, they also advocate politically for disability rights.
There are various government assistance programs for getting help with specific needs.
The biggest program to help disabled individuals, however, is Social Security.
There are two programs that Social Security offers for the disabled- Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The main difference between the programs is that SSI is needs-based, meaning it is only available to individuals with assets below a certain level.
211 Texas – The emergency help phone number for essential human services.
Everyone knows that in an emergency, you can dial 911 for police, fire and EMS services. There is another number you can call if you have a different type of emergency. 211 helps link people to public assistance. Dialing 211 can connect you to assistance for food, housing, medical care and more. 211 is a nationally established number for assistance, but each call goes to a local center. In Texas, 211 is managed by the department of Health and Human Services.
211 is available throughout Texas and, because the system is largely automated, information is available at any time- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, holidays included. Unfortunately, the automated system cannot handle every query. If you need information regarding state benefits, it is best to call between 8am and 6pm, Monday through Friday in order to reach a representative.
Dialing 211 will connect you to a local resource specialist.
Specialists are required to either have obtained certification or be working towards it. Resource specialists are certified through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems. Specialists are trained to know about all the government assistance programs available and help direct people to apply for those which will best fulfill their needs.
This system has many benefits. It is much more efficient for an individual in need to call one central number than to call multiple agencies to seek aid.
Also, specialists are experts in which programs are available. Often, if someone is in financial need they do not need only food stamps or only housing assistance, but could benefit from several different programs. The specialist may even be able to inform people about programs they didn’t previously know about.
211 will connect you to a variety of services.
Most people call 211 to deal with an immediate need such as food, or emergency financial assistance or housing. The hotline can connect you to a variety of services, including but not limited to:
- Food Stamps (SNAP)
- Food Pantries
- Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Section 8
- Subsidized Rentals
- Rental Assistance
- Homeless Shelters
- Accessibility (Ramp Construction) Services
- Community Clinics
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Medical Expense Assistance
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
It is important to note that 211 is a program designed to help you find assistance it does not actually provide any of these services.
If you need to contact a specific agency, it is best to call their number directly. Many of the services that 211 will direct you to are run by the department of Health and Human Services. However, any charity organization can ask to be listed in their directory. For example, if you ask for food assistance in Austin, you will find church food pantries alongside county food banks and state aid programs. This allows those in need to select from a variety of options and lessens the burden on any one service provider.
Programs and Information you may find Helpful
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If you are receiving Social Security or Long Term Disability benefits, you may be wondering how it will affect your taxes. Taxes can be complicated, and the information provided here is only intended to act as a guide. If you have a complex or unique situation, please seek the advice of an accountant or tax attorney.
Do I need to prepare an Advance Directive for Health Care? Every adult has the right to make decisions about their medical treatments as long as they are mentally capable of doing so. This right is called informed consent and means that a doctor or nurse must explain the purpose, benefits, and risks before a patient agrees to treatment.
Bemis, Roach & Reed
The Texas Disability Law Firm
If we can help you in any way please just let us know.
Our friendly, professional staff will work to get you the disability benefits you deserve. Just call 512-454-4000 today.
If you are suffering from depression help is available. It is very difficult to get better on your own.
Depression is the most widespread disability. Despite its prevalence, there is a negative stigma associated with the disease. An estimated 80% of those with depression do not seek treatment.
People who have a disability and are also homeless have the same rights and privileges as individuals who are not experiencing homelessness. The Social Security Administration participates actively in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in efforts to reduce and end homelessness.
ABLE accounts – A tax-free savings account for some receiving SSDI that does not affect their benefits.
The Social Security Administration has established a means for some recipients of disability benefits to save up to 14,000 a year tax free that will not change their disability status.
As hot weather once again arrives in Texas those with disabilities should be especially careful to avoid heat related illness. As we slide into summer and temperatures rise we all need to be aware of the dangers of heat and sun exposure. Heat waves result in hundreds of deaths each year.
If you are suffering from the effects of a disability there are ways to improve your home to help ease the challenges of your everyday life. Everyone wants to live in a home that is comfortable, safe and enjoyable. For the 56.7 million people living with a disability, a dwelling must also accommodate their mobility and functional challenges in order to live a more independent life.
What steps can you take to Prepare for a Natural Disaster?
Often, it’s not until an event like Hurricane Harvey has come and gone that people think about how to prepare for a natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey will not be the last violent storm or natural disaster to occur in Texas.
“Bemis, Roach & Reed was able to handle my case with amazing results. With my inability to understand things at times, their whole team stepped up and took care of me without me being embarrassed. If you are looking for professionals they are your right choice.”
– Robert G.
Call 512-454-4000 Today.
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Disabled people have to be especially vigilant to avoid scams. It is an unfortunate reality that disabled people are frequently targeted by criminals. Many scammers will impersonate government entities, major businesses, and recognized brands to gain your trust.
The TSA is working to help relieve anxiety over air travel for the disabled.
For those with disabilities the security check process can be intimidating and confusing so the Transportation Security Administration has some suggestions for those with disabilities to help ease difficulties encountered during air travel.
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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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