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USDA: disability makes it harder to put food on the table

For a working family the challenges of caring for one or more members with a disability are potent and myriad. From medical bills to the strain a serious injury or disease can put on the very love that bonds a household together, disabilities of any kind can become a factor that must be accounted for and overcome in nearly every aspect of life. Such aspects can be as simple as the need to keep everyone fed.

According to new numbers released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, having a disabled family member can make it exceedingly difficult to provide everyone in that family with adequate food week after week, meal after meal. Texas residents with disabilities are in no way absolved from this trend; the issue of food insecurity is a nationwide dilemma.

Much of the increased risk of food insecurity is rendered by the reduced working, wage-earning power of a disabled family member. Along with the cost of treating an injury or condition, the decreased income a family must endure while a loved one is disabled can quickly lead to food insecurity. And, if Social Security Disability benefits are either denied or delayed for a prolonged period, this inability to keep everyone fed can possibly become permanent.

Nearly 15 percent of all American households must battle with food insecurity, according to the USDA's report. That number, however, approaches 33 percent for those families with a work-preventing disability, and remains elevated, at 25 percent, for those families with a member who suffers a non-work-disabling disability.

In its report the USDA noted that disabled family members may often have increased difficulty shopping for and preparing complete meals for their family, adding to the hardship that a household can face.

To help combat the problem of food insecurity, the department asserted that food assistance programs will require specific accommodations for disability-stricken households. Fortunately, other means of assistance are out there. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to help those who truly need assistance during times when they are unable to work. For insight and advocacy in the effort of winning an SSD claim or appeal, families shouldn't hesitate to contact an experienced Social Security attorney.

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

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