With few exceptions, most AMN guys that I have met carry a solid work ethic, regardless of their disability. Which is a good thing, since such characteristics are viewed favorably by our society. While some adaptions may be in order, it seems that most of us get in our 40 hours. We are the lucky ones.
So many times, I have considered my good fortune to select a career that I can manage though disabled and unable to walk. What if I had not? If I had chosen to be a commercial airline pilot, electrician or rockstar, AMN would have complicated my career trajectory. What if I were unable to work to support myself and my family? I am not independently wealthy. I have not won the lottery lately. What other options are there?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federally funded programs managed by the Social Security Administration. These programs are in place to support people whose disabilities prevent them from working. These programs are funded differently, but that does not really matter to the recipient, the best that I can tell. The critical difference is how you qualify for each.
If you are severely disabled, have a bit of a work history and worked at least 5 of the past 10 years, SSDI may be able to help. In fact, SSDI will also pay eligible family members.
If on the other hand you have low income and limited resources, SSI may be for you. It is designed to cover basic needs such as shelter, clothing and food.
The key to both programs is qualifying. While children with X-ALD automatically qualify, and can begin drawing benefits in a matter of weeks, it is a bit trickier for men with AMN because the government does not have a specific listing for this disease. Nonetheless, men can still qualify by meeting certain criteria. As an example, a man with AMN could prove that he or she medically qualifies for benefits if unable to “ambulate effectively” under Section 1.00. Ineffective ambulation includes:
- Needing a wheelchair
- Inability to walk more than a couple of blocks without a cane or walker
- Inability to go up more than a few stairs without a handrail
In general, the more limited you are, the better your odds of qualifying.
Most guys that I know were working long before AMN became an issue. If, so, then SSDI is going to be your best bet. Your ultimate benefit will be calculated by how long you have contributed to social security and your age (work credits). To get an idea if either of these options might be a go for you, have a look at this handy Social Security Disability benefits qualification guide.
It is my hope that none of us will come to rely on these programs. At the same time, things happen. It is good to know that there is some sort of backstop to catch us. Keep at it, guys.