Living with a disability can be very expensive. It costs way more to live with a disability than it costs the average person to live their life. There are a number of factors that affect how much it costs for people with disabilities to live independently, each year.

On a side note, it should be mentioned that the other option would be to put all of us in nursing homes or similar medical facilities, which would cost taxpayers at least $100,000 per person, per year, and that’s just the cost of housing us – ignore all the medical expenses added to that. So, the cost of living in our home communities, in our own homes is much more fiscally responsible.

Now, I am asking this seeking a genuine answer. In the times that I have attempted to debate with more conservative individuals who attest to their belief that people like me, with disabilities, who use governmental services are freeloaders who need to get jobs and support ourselves (ignoring the fact many of us do have or did have jobs, and said jobs cannot support our medical needs), not one has ever given me a constructive solution to this issue. You cannot say go out and get a job when that job does not offer insurance, or the insurance they do offer does not provide assistance purchasing costly medical equipment or help paying for PCA/nursing care we need to be independent.

Some people think the burden should fall on our families. Some of us do not have families. We may have been disowned. Our parents might be dead. We might be only children. If our parents or siblings are alive, what is to happen to us if they die? Accidents happen. Illnesses happen. What if they develop a disability, as well? The best way to combat all these uncertainties is to teach us/allow us to be self-sufficient, using PCA and/or nursing care to live independently. Most insurances do not pay for this. It is costly. Most jobs we have cannot afford this. Medicaid waivers typically pay though, and Medicaid caps your income, leaving many of us with the inability to seek high paying jobs if we want to maintain care.

Let’s just imagine our parents do take care of us. For many, nursing and PCA care is a full-time job. Who is going to pay our mortgage? Who is going to buy us food? Our parent cannot do it because they cannot have another job if they are caring for us. So then, we cannot afford housing or food, without help.

Another major hurdle is the cost of everything. Power wheelchairs cost as much as cars, but if we don’t have one, we are often stuck in bed. If we could walk, we could go out and buy a used car for as little as a few thousand dollars. For those of us in wheelchairs, we often have two choices of cars: minivans and big vans. Even the used accessible vans cost around $20,000 and forget getting a new van, because you’re looking at $50,000-$60,000! It is insane what these companies charge us, and they can get away with it because they are often our only option.

So, my question to you is what would you have us do? What is a practical solution to ensure we can be independent, but we can also afford to pay for ourselves? You understand these programs we are on allow us to be independent, and with a few tweaks, could allow us to be hard-working, taxpaying citizens. Many of us already are, though we just make enough to get by.

By the way, please keep this discussion civil. I’m not looking for any arguments, just real civil discourse and real solutions.

Update: A clarification – I call them Conservatives, because this is how those debating me on the topic always self-identify. It is their identification, not mine. I also know not all Conservatives feel this way. I am asking the ones who do.

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