Being Disabled and Employed at the Same Time

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Guess who just got a job writing articles for multiple clients? This gal!

Guess who’s already tired and stressed out? This gal!

Guess who’s been afraid of getting a job due to her lack of ability to deal with stress and lots of socialization brought on by her autism? This gal!

Guess who decided to get a work-from-home job to lessen this and to make some sweet, sweet cash? This gal!

Guess who has always been expected to get famous at a young age by family members and school people due to my creativity and writing skills? This gal!

Guess who’s had so much anxiety and stress from said high expectation that she had a hard time finding a job? This gal!

Yeah, in case you can’t tell, I’ve got a job now. I’m also autistic- just letting you know about that. I guess I should consider myself lucky I actually have a job at all because only 58% of autistic people have jobs compared to 95% of people with learning disabilities and 74% of people with intellectual disabilities. And even then, 50–70% of disabled people have jobs in “industrial countries”. Even if a disabled person is working at all, they can be paid as little as the average wage for a disabled employee- $3.34 an hour. The minimum wage in the United States is $7.25.

“Well, there’s always disability money,” you might say. Okay, fair point. But do you know how much you’ll make per month while on SSI? $794 per month. Do you want to know how much rent costs in the United States? $725 per month in the cheapest state (West Virginia); this doesn’t even count for all the other bills you’re meant to pay. Oh, and you can only have up to $2000 as a single person, and that counts cash, money in a checking/savings account, cash value in life insurance policy (over $1500), stocks and bonds, household goods and personal effects (over $2000), motor vehicles (except for one), and real estate (except for the recipient’s home).

How is this considered ethical, let alone acceptable? Being disabled is not cheap, you know. Even an “invisible” disability like autism can cost as much as $236–262 billion annually. Imagine how expensive a physical disability would be! Oh, wait… I can.

Let’s say you need a powered wheelchair for transportation. That’s $30K right out of pocket. Oh, and you get a new one every five years, so that’s another $30K dropped. That’s not all; you need to buy new tires every year. Not to mention that there needs to be something that powers your wheelchair- you know, batteries? And those babies aren’t cheap, either. Oh, no… powered-wheelchair batteries cost anywhere from $250 to $500- per year!

Need a service dog for a specific reason (like being blind, being deaf, having a physical disability, or even having autism or a mental illness)? Great, more power to you and your dog. Most service dogs cost between $15,000 to $30,000; some can cost as much as $50,000! And you can expect to spend between $500 and $10,000 per year taking care of it. Oh, and the training? They’re only around $150 to $250 per hour.

Let’s not forget about medication either. According to GoodRX, Zolgensma, a medication known to treat Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is the most expensive prescription with an annual cost of $2,125,000 based on length of therapy, and insurers may not cover the cost or have certain requirements for coverage. Actually, a lot of the prescriptions on GoodRX’s list are meant to treat genetic conditions or certain cancers. Hell, even prescriptions for mental illnesses aren’t cheap. Any prescription depending on which mental illness has a price ranging from $15 to as much as $100 a month, and that’s just for one prescription. Imagine the costs for multiple prescriptions!

Again, how is this considered ethical, let alone acceptable? Expenses are already a pain for us, so why make it worse? Why is SSI a measly $794 per month where you can barely pay rent in the cheapest state? Why is the minimum wage for a disabled employee $3.34 per hour when the minimum wage for an abled employee is $7.25? Do we disabled people not deserve the rights for an adequate wage? Do we not deserve to have our basic needs covered? Are we not human to these people? Some of us want to make our own money while some of us aren’t able to work and need that disability check every month. Why do we receive so little money? Why?

This is ridiculous- ridiculous and appalling! The fact that this is considered not only acceptable, but also ethical, sickens me. Disabled people are human beings with many wonderful gifts, just like abled people. Just because we have a difficulty/inability to do a certain task doesn’t make us all completely useless, so why do the people in our society treat us like this? I am upset; this upsets me. We need to do something about this atrocity. We cannot keep screwing over the most vulnerable people in our society time and time again. It is time for this to stop. Actually, no, it’s been way past the time for this to stop. Let’s make this time the time for it to stop.

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Emily Alexandra

Emily Alexandra

Just some autistic person wanting to write and write. I also like to draw and have a cat and dog that are my life. I publish on 8th, 18th, and 28th every month.