According to the Social Security Administration, 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. If you have a disability that interferes with your ability to work, you may apply for either Social Security Disability (SSD) if you have a work record, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you do not have a sufficient work record. You may meet the definition of a person with a disability under the SSD rules if: (1) you cannot do work that you have done before; (2) you cannot do other work because of your age, education, and medical condition; and (3) your medical condition has lasted or will last for at least one year (or will result in death). SSI provides financial aid to people with limited resources and who are older than 65, blind, or disabled. Applications for Social Security may be filed at your local Social Security Administration Office, by phone at 1-800-772-1213 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or may be completed online at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability.
You have rights. If you have been diagnosed with a disability, your rights may fall under the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities to make sure that they have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy job opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in government programs and services (including public transportation, such as city buses and subways). In addition, people with HIV/AIDS are protected by the ADA. For example, the ADA would protect a person denied a job or admission into school because of a rumor that he or she has HIV/AIDS, even if he or she does not have it.