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Disability can easily add hunger to injury, illness

Disability can present a wide variety of challenges for families supporting one, or more, members with a serious injury, disease, or condition. Medical bills, uncertainty about health, and heavy personal strain can be brought on by disabilities of any kind. Beyond the matters of hospitals and checkbooks, however, the simple task of putting food on the table can also be threatened by a disability.

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Agriculture released numbers that revealed that families shouldering the burden of a disability also must surmount a heightened difficulty to keep everyone fed, meal after meal, week after week. Georgia residents with disabilities are as susceptible to this trend as any other group of Americans.

A wide portion of the additional food insecurity risk is brought on by the loss of work hours a disability brings with it. Treating a condition or injury is often expensive, and the decreased income a family must endure while a loved one is disabled can quickly lead to a lack of money for groceries. A denial (or long delay) of Social Security Disability has the potential to make this hunger predicament a permanent reality.

The USDA's report details that 15 percent of all American households currently wrestle with food insecurity. That number, however, drastically increases for families accommodating a work-preventing disability to 33 percent. Even those families that are tending to a disability that still allows for some work hours to be logged must deal with food insecurity in 25 percent of instances.

As a result of these findings, the administration has voiced its support for comprehensive food assistance programs that take the extra challenges of disability into account. When making ends meet is so critical and bellies need to be fed, another option for disabled persons is to reevaluate their eligibility for a Social Security Disability claim. With the right legal assistance and advocacy, an application or appeal is much more likely to be accepted, and with it, the income that can make tomorrow's dinner a sure certainty.

Source: USDA, "Disability Is an Important Risk Factor for Food Insecurity," Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Feb. 12, 2013

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