Imagine you have an adult child who develops a mental health disorder later in life. One day you realize that they may not be able to keep working due to complications related to their disorder.
This begs the question: How they will be able to take care of themselves? Will you be able to afford to take care of them and yourself on a retirement income? In the past, households would contain multiple generations, and so caring for a family member with disabilities was a shared responsibility.
Advocation for the disabled Americans in our country is a must! Social workers have the opportunity here to be the voice for many and bring awareness to hoops that this population in need is subjected to on a daily basis. Power in numbers. The joy of this democracy that we find ourselves in is that we have that power.
We have the ability to support those around us who are going through these struggles, both financially and emotionally. We can talk to our legislators about bills that simplify the system or reduce wait times for those in need, such as the Stop the Wait Bill (HR 4386). If we have a chance to endorse adding more advocates into our system of care, we should do so.
Hypothetically the biggest objection would be, how much is this going to cost? We would challenge that if SSI was the only option for the government officials creating these barriers to the application process and their families, this question may have more solutions and budgets may be moved around.
Being connected to those in need tends to change the question of “will I” to “can I.” By simplifying the system and removing unnecessary appeals, the process could lessen the amount of time and money spent on needless litigation.
The reality is that our government is going to spend money. It considers infrastructure, defense and government systems to be worth spending our tax dollars.
We as social workers can postulate that the support of the Americans with disabilities in need is just as important as any other government-funded system. That as people, we begin to look at those in need as a son or daughter and not merely another number. And as members of this society, perhaps we should take an interest and remove the barriers to all in need.
Jeremy Noles of Clarkesville, Erika Flippin and Megan Williams
Valdosta State University social work students