CW: Depression & Anxiety:
Growing up, I assumed that my adulthood would be like my peers. I knew that I wanted to go to college by the time I was in elementary school. I’d always been told that if I worked hard and had good grades, I’d have no problem achieving my dreams. At the time, I had no idea that adulthood with a disability would be challenging.
I graduated from high school in 2018, and was looking forward to attending college. Following my freshman year, I wanted to look for experience to add to my résumé during the summer. I contacted a publishing company and was told that the office isn’t accessible.
Later that year, I began to look for paid work. Nearly three years later, I am still unemployed. I applied to grocery stores, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and retail stores. I couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Stop And Shop. Employers don’t hire me once they find out that I am disabled. It is incredibly frustrating to me that employers are discriminatory. This has led to severe depression, and anxiety. I question my worth daily.
This doesn’t match what I was told as a child, either. I thought that discrimination wouldn’t happen to me. Unsurprisingly, people without disabilities are three times more likely than those with disabilities to be employed. In addition, the poverty rate is roughly 26% for those with disabilities but just 11% for people without disabilities.
I rely on Medicaid to pay for my PCA as well. My PCA assists me with activities of daily living, including showering, toileting, and dressing. Medicaid is an income-based program. I can’t make too much money or have too many assets. I am waiting to meet with a benefits counselor to see how working will affect my SSI and Medicaid insurance. I wouldn’t be able to work without Medicaid. I wouldn’t even be able to take a shower without Medicaid.
I knew I wanted to move out of my parent’s home as an adult as well. I feared I might live in a nursing home or group home. This wasn’t what I wanted. Accessible housing is hard to find in the United States. Apartment List conducted a study utilizing information from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey in February 2020. According to the data, only 9% of households with a disabled member reside in an accessible home. Despite the fact that more than 15% of households in the US include a member who is physically disabled, only 6% of homes are accessible.
Americans with disabilities deserve equal opportunities. We should be able to achieve our dreams like our non-disabled peers. We are tired of being left behind and forgotten. It’s time for all Americans to understand that.
Cahill, Rachel M., and Laura J. Samuel. “Food Insecurity in the Disability Community: Disparities in Snap Access: .” Health Affairs, Health Affairs , 17 May 2021, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210513.420153/.
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List, Apartment List, 19 February 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.