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Arizona Social Security Disability Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lessons About Disability from Stephen Hawking's Death

Q: Does every disabled person dream of escaping their disability?

As disability attorneys of Arizona, we fill our days helping the disabled obtain benefits. Sometimes people are born with disabilities and other times the onset of the disability happens gradually or suddenly at some point later in life.

Applying for disability benefits can be a stressful and time-consuming process. For that reason, many people choose to hire a skilled disability benefits law firm to handle the initial application.

While it is possible to appeal the denial of disability benefits, the appeals process is so backlogged and has an average waiting time of over two years. People are literally becoming homeless and even dying waiting to have their disability benefits approved.

For many who are disabled or who are caretakers for loved ones suffering from a disability, there are very real financial burdens in obtaining available government benefits necessary for survival. Even in the best-case scenario, when hard to come by benefits have been approved on the initial application, it can be difficult to survive or lead a minimalist lifestyle on disability benefits alone. That's one of the reasons why many disabled people, if they are able to do so, work or return to work.

We've previously discussed on this blog the social stigma that those who stopped working due to a disability are just lazy freeloaders who would rather collect benefits than return to work.

But the recent death of Stephen Hawking forces us to reflect on other possible social stigmas or improper assumptions--that all disabled people wish they could shed their disability and that all disabilities are a burden. The theoretical physicist is arguably the most famous face of the disabled of our time. Nearly everyone has seen this brilliant mind trapped in an ALS-ridden, progressively deteriorating body. He used the most sophisticated and supportive wheelchair and spoke with a robotic voice through the use of modern technological devices. He reportedly was stricken with ALS at the age of 20 but had a brilliant career and the world has benefited through his scientific contributions over the past 50 years.

Since his recent death, however, images and comments on social media and elsewhere depicting him "walking among the stars" and finally "free of the burden" of both his wheelchair and physical disability sparked an unintended backlash from the disabled community nationwide. Disability advocates, of which Hawking himself who was one, argue that society needs to stop assuming a disability is negative or undesirable and needs to embrace the disabled, accept them as able, and provide them the tools they need for inclusion so they can reach their full potential.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a disability and needs assistance applying for benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we help the disabled and their families in all aspects of disability law throughout Arizona and nationwide.


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