About 25% of the U.S. population lives with a disability. Approximately six in 10 Americans have one or more chronic health issues that increase their vulnerability to the severe and even deadly symptoms of the coronavirus. Even in times when no pandemic is sweeping the world, persons with disabilities and chronic health conditions face obstacles and biases in receiving appropriate medical care. Often they have to endure waiting lists to receive support at home instead of at a nursing home. Many have difficulty gaining access to government benefits. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have become intensified.
Time Magazine recently reported on the difficulties these individuals face. Jeiri Flores, a 29-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, spoke to Time about her experiences. Flores uses a wheelchair and requires help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed and preparing meals. Her disability makes it more difficult for her immune system to resist and fight off illnesses, such as COVID-19.
In addition, she has been recovering from a case of pneumonia she contracted in January. Acquiring COVID-19 in her weakened condition could present a very long and difficult battle that could include months in the hospital. She and millions of other Americans with disabilities face real and often unknown challenges when it comes to this type of virus that can specifically attack persons with certain pre-existing health conditions.
For individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities (many of whom receive Social Security benefits), contracting the coronavirus would only make a difficult situation worse. Sami Leskin, a 24-year-old woman with a seizure disorder, attends a specialized day program, Time reports. Her mother, Lori Leskin, felt she had no other choice but to remove her daughter from the program to protect her. Because Sami cannot speak with words, she is unable to convey her frustrations, and her mother worries about the effects that the loss of routine will have.
Maryland’s Department of Disabilities programs
The State of Maryland’s Department of Disabilities (MDOD) programs offer special adaptations and/or accommodations in response to the coronavirus pandemic. One of these is the Attendant Care Program.
The Attendant Care Program helps individuals who have permanent or chronic physical disabilities by providing financial reimbursement to assist them in obtaining attendant care services. These services enable individuals to manage their own care and choose their own service providers, and may be provided in the home, workplace, school, or other locations within the community.
Other programs include a housing program and various technology assistance programs.
At Plaxen & Adler, P.A., we are your trusted advocates to help you or your loved one secure the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Insurance benefits you deserve. If you have been denied benefits, we can help. To arrange a free consultation with an experienced Maryland Disability attorney from our team, call us today at 410.730.7737, or leave us a message through our contact form.