Disability benefits are available to folks in Minnesota and other Americans who suffer from debilitating, life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Typically, many folks associate disabilities with older people. Workers who spend 40 years doing manual labor might become disabled as a result of a repetitive stress injury. And other workers who are nearing retirement might suddenly be diagnosed with cancer or fibromyalgia.
But younger people can also become disabled after serious accidents or other incidents that result in injuries. When younger Americans become disabled, though, they might not be able to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as those who have already spent decades in the workforce. Instead, younger folks who suddenly become disabled may be able to obtain Supplement Security Income benefits.
SSI benefits provide folks with resources to afford basic living expenses like food, clothing and shelter. In some cases, these benefits are all folks have to rely on to help support their families after suffering a disabling injury. For example, one man who lives in New York with his mother currently relies on his SSI benefits to help support his family while he looks for work. The man was severely injured in 2003 when he was attacked and mugged.
The man is now 26. At the age of 16, he was stabbed and left unconscious on a sidewalk. The man suffered serious injuries from the attack and was left blind. Over the years, the man's vision has improved. However, he is still legally blind and has had to learn how to adapt to his disability.
In addition to focusing on recovering from his injuries, the man has had to face other challenges. His stepfather left him and his mother in 2010, forcing them to live at a homeless shelter. The man and his mother have since found their own apartment, but because of the man's disability, he is still unable to find steady work. SSI benefits help him to currently afford his basic living expenses while he continues to search for a full-time job.
The man has faced many challenges for being so young, but he is working through these challenges and remains optimistic that he will be able to find a suitable job and become financially independent.
Source: The New York Times, "Left blind after a mugging, a son is still driven to support his family," John Otis, Nov. 15, 2012