Living on Disability

14 Aug 2017 Karina S. Henkel

Coming from a country with a strong health care system and Social Security, I was quite worried about what would happen to me if I shouldn’t find a job in the US. And even worse: what would happen if I couldn’t find a job and Andrew would lose his ? Would I starve to death? Would I have to live under a bridge, begging for my next meal? Did people get any support from the state or federal government when they lose their job or get sick? Before I moved here I thought that people have to die on the street if they can’t provide for themselves.

That is not true!

It is true that life might be harder for unemployed or disabled people living in the US than it is for the same people in Germany. But the US  provides for unemployed and disabled people, just like other western countries do. Maybe the circumstances are better in Germany, but I have met several people who live on disability. They live in subsidized housing with an income very close to the poverty level. It is a very restricted life. Some of them can’t afford the gas for their old car, if they have a car, and might not even be able to afford second hand clothes. They depend on places where they can get free stuff. But they are not sleeping under a bridge.

But I have not earned the right for disability benefits yet. Only a person who has earned a certain amount of salary working for jobs that were covered by Social Security over the past 10 consecutive years is eligible for this benefit. If I ever would ask for that benefit, I would have to work for four more years.

But what I have learned in this country so far is that even if I haven’t earned the right to receive the benefits of Social Security yet – there are still other avenues that could help me in a time of crisis.

But, of course, something like this will never happen to   Andrew and me. But sometimes I have moments when I worry. And it’s good to do some research then. The situation here in the US might not be as bad as it sometimes appears from abroad.