Disabled people face a variety of out-of-pocket expenses. Adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses have a more challenging time managing monthly expenses, saving for the future, and making ends meet because of these expenses.
According to the National Disability Institute, researchers estimate that households containing an adult with a disability require, on average, 28 percent more income (or an additional $17,690 a year for a family at the median income level) to obtain the same standard of living as a comparable household without a member with a disability.
As someone with cerebral palsy, medical expenses are always on my mind. I am lucky enough to be on my mother’s health insurance coverage right now because I am under the age of 26.
However, living with a disability is still expensive, even with insurance. For example, I received a new power wheelchair this year. While insurance covered the cost of the chair, they didn’t cover Quantum iLevel technology. To add this technology to my chair was nearly $3,000. Ultimately, the kindness of my community allowed me to have iLevel on my new chair. I realize that I am beyond fortunate to have a community that came together to fund iLevel, I shouldn’t have to do this, to begin with. I cannot transport my power wheelchair in a standard vehicle either. A wheelchair lift or ramp is required. You might expect to pay $60,000 for a new vehicle. $30,000-$40,000 for a used one.
Now, if you’re lucky, the used van will survive around five years. The new van will most likely endure 7 to 10 years. Without an accessible vehicle my options would be even more limited. I’d have to rely on my transport chair. I use the transport chair only when I have to. I have to rely on somebody to push me around.
This doesn’t include the cost of physical therapy to help you stretch your limbs, any medication you may require, and numerous other pieces of equipment that you may need. I wear AFOs (ankle-foot orthotics) on my feet. The out-of-pocket cost for my most recent pair was over $300.
It is pretty expensive to live with a disability. I wish people weren’t so quick to pass judgment. People can become disabled in an instant. Tomorrow, this could be you or someone you love. Almost everyone is affected by a disability at some point in their lives. You should be concerned about disability rights before it affects you.
Goodman, Nanette, et al. “The Extra Costs of Living with a Disability in the U.S. — Resetting the Policy Table.” National Disability Institute, National Disability Institute, Oct. 2020, http://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/extra-costs-living-with-disability-brief.pdf.