Would a self employed person collect disability benefits or creatively problem solve?

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One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. In airports, train stations, the post office even hospital waiting rooms, I can entertain myself endlessly trying to figure out relationships, occupations and destinations.

Yesterday, during a two hour wait at the social security office to change my ID back to my maiden name, I had plenty of interesting characters to keep my imagination busy. People were there for numerous reasons and I’m not even going to get into the issue of “entitlement” but I’ll likely make some enemies with what I have to say regardless.

It was easy to tell who was there for what purpose because you went to a different “specialist” for each issue. The group that really got my attention was the line of disability benefit seekers.  Watching these people take their turns at the window, I didn’t spot anyone who appeared to be disabled. There were no apparent physical limitations. I understand that there are many “invisible” disabilities. (I have a couple of those myself: I faint when I stand still and the medication for that sometimes affects my ability to find words. But I have never considered myself “disabled”.) Of the seemingly healthy people at the disability benefits window, I’m sure there are some with carpal tunnel who are collecting benefits because it’s painful to type or scan groceries or do whatever repetitive task they did at their previous job. And some of those disability seekers probably suffer pain from back or shoulder or knee injuries that make doing their job difficult or impossible. But is there really no other way they can earn a living?

I’m sorry if I offend someone, but I just don’t understand why when a blind man can run a business by speaking into a computer with software that costs less than $100. and a paraplegic can teach kids to ride horses, someone with an injury can’t find another means of making income. And I wonder, how much of this disability mindset is employee mentality. If these same people were self employed, would they be collecting disability or would they be creative problem solvers and find another way to accomplish what needed to be done? If they had a business that involved standing all day and they could no longer stand, would they find a way to do it on a tall stool? If their business required hours at the keyboard, would a wrist injury stop them or would find a way to voice record and get transcripts?

My friend Joe is a sculptor who lost most of his dominant thumb to melanoma. He could have decided he could no longer make a living and collect disability but because he is self employed, he relearned how to use his hands to do his craft. I believe he would have used his feet if he had to because the self employed learn to be resourceful.

As I watched these people line up to file for disability benefits, I wondered if they were offered free consulting to help them create a way to make a living without using their injured body part, how many of them would take on the challenge and how many would opt to just continue seeing themselves as disabled and collect checks.

I hope that I will never consider myself disabled unless I I am unable to use my brain. Please don’t take offense if you are disabled but if I offered you a consult to figure out how you can make a living another way, would you take me up on it? If you or someone you know is disabled and making a living in a new way, do share in the comments below, please.

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