Last year, The Washington Post explored how rural American communities have been reshaped by the significant growth in disability programs over the past two decades.
As the series of articles progressed, we heard from readers nationwide about their experiences with disability benefits. A common theme emerged from their stories.
One of the most misunderstood aspects of the federal disability programs — Social Security Disability Insurance, for those who work, and Supplemental Security Insurance for the disabled poor — has to do with working. Some recipients subsist on benefits alone, unable to work at all because of their disability, and some find paid part-time work. (Both programs come with health care — Medicare with SSDI and Medicaid with SSI.)
Others work for pay up to modest income limits allowed by the programs or are seeking employment. Many others perform unpaid volunteer work. Yet whether they work for money or not, disability recipients are often stigmatized in our work-obsessed culture.
We spoke to five recipients around the country about how they maintain active and fulfilling lives. Read their stories below.
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