Government Programs

ADA and Disability Laws to Know

Just like a hiker filling their backpack with everything they need before a big hike, you too need your arsenal prepared for living with a spinal cord injury. You need to know it all and be prepared in every way you can, and a big part of this arsenal is knowing which laws exist to help you. Some of these laws you may have heard of before, but chances are you don't know every single one.

To educate yourself on the important laws to know when living with a spinal cord injury, read about the three major laws below. Knowledge is freedom as they say, and that is certainly the case with understanding the legal system as a disabled citizen of the United States.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is likely one of the laws in this list you've heard of before. This law was literally a game changer when it was passed in 1990 and it completely transformed the lives of people with disabilities everywhere.  People with disabilities could now, thanks to this law, more freely move about in their community.

The ADA has three main sections - 1) All publically owned facilities need to be accessible 2) All privately owned facilities open to the public must be accessible and 3) Employers can no longer discriminate against employees/possible employees with disabilities.  Since this law was passed, people with spinal cord injuries can now more easily land jobs that can support them and they can live full independent lives because they no longer have to worry about accessibility in their community.

Not every city and state enforces the ADA very well however, so you may have to do your research before deciding on a new city to live in if you plan on moving after your injury. In smaller towns for example, you are more likely to see shops and restaurants with steps with no one doing anything about it. You can however do your part and report any ADA violations you see to the authorities.

Vocational Rehab

Funded by the federal government, this program is run on a state-by-state basis and was created to help people with disabilities find jobs. To that end, Voc Rehab will help pay for education expenses, job training, job counseling and even vehicle expenses if it will assist you in getting and keeping a job. 

Millions of people with spinal cord injuries use Voc Rehab to help pay for their college tuition. It won't cover all of the costs, but it will provide a nice sum. Note: If you attend a private college the amount you receive is reduced.

Ticket to Work Program

Passed in 1999, The Ticket to Work Program made it possible for people with disabilities to be able to keep their health care and still work with no longer having to choose between two. Up until this point, people with disabilities would completely lose their health benefits if they took on a fulltime job, and they would not be covered by any other willing health insurance plan.

PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Sufficiency) is another law that was passed that lets you work and still keep your Social Security benefits. MAEPD (Medicaid for people with disabilities) too was created because of The Ticket to Work Program. MAEP is a version of Medicaid where you pay a monthly amount, but can still keep your health benefits and work fulltime.

Please review the following video on important disability laws to know, and checkout our Takeaway Points below.

Video: 23 Years After Americans with Disabilities Act

Takeaway Points:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all publically-owned facilities to be accessible, all privately-owned facility open to the public to be accessible and makes employment discrimination based on disability illegal
  • Vocational rehab will help pay for college tuition, job training, job counseling and sometimes vehicle expenses
  • The Ticket to Work Program makes it possible for people with disabilities to be able to work and keep their health benefits
  • PASS allows you to work and still keep a portion of your Social Security benefits

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