#WeAreEssential Campaign – Introductory Blog Post


Over the next 4 weeks, the disability community, lead by AAPD and Center for American Progress, is building a social media campaign and rallying behind #WeAreEssential to ensure that disability needs are included in the next COVID-19 response packages. There will be a different theme each week so that people with disabilities can share their stories:

Week 1 (April 6) – Home and Community-Based Services
Ask: Tell Congress Medicaid funding for home and community-based services must be increased.

Week 2 (April 13) – Paid Family and medical leave
Ask: Congress and the Department of Labor need to expand paid family and medical leave and ensure that everyone is paid fairly while caring for their loved ones.

Week 3 (April 20) – SSI & SSDI and the Recovery Rebate #FixTheGlitch
Ask: #FixTheGlitch Congress must compel agencies to work together to share data so that all eligible individuals can get the rebate checks.

Week 4 (April 27) – Medication and Supplies
Ask: Tell the President to invoke #DefenseProductionActNow. There is an extreme shortage of supplies such as ventilators and face masks. At the state and local level, people must be able to access their medications.

Each week, we will provide background information on the topics as well as templates and suggestions for you to use to reach out to your elected officials. These are unprecedented times, and innovative advocacy is crucial to the success of our cause. The disability community needs to be creative to ensure they are not forgotten. Right now, the best way to contact officials is through social media and email.

If you are new to digital advocacy and have any questions, please reach out to Sarah at 314-289-4277 or sschwegel@paraquad.org; we are all learning about new tools and how to organize without meeting in person.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits after a Spinal Cord Injury


Nearly 300,000 people in the US live with debilitating spinal cord injuries, and more than 12,000 per year suffer a spinal cord injury, usually as the result of an auto accident or some other type of accident. Anyone with a spinal cord injury can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits as long as the injury has lasted at least three months and is expected to make it impossible for you to work for at least 12 months. Disability benefits can be used to help pay for housing expenses and other costs so that you don’t have to worry about getting by while you cannot work.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits Due to A Spinal Cord Injury

In order to get your claim for disability benefits approved because of a spinal cord injury you will need to meet the requirements listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. The Blue Book requirements for a spinal cord injury are very details. In order to qualify you must have a documented spinal cord injury that causes one of these three conditions:

  • Complete loss of function of any part of the body because of spinal cord injury, such as paralysis of an arm or leg. Paraplegic and quadriplegic people can automatically qualify for benefits under this part of the listing. But others can qualify under this part of the listing as well. Spinal cord injuries can paralyze other muscles and qualify for benefits because of that. For example, spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis in the stomach, intestines, or bladder.
  • Abnormal ability of movement in at least two extremities (either an arm and a leg or two arms or two legs) resulting in extreme difficulty in the ability to balance while standing or walking, to stand up from a seated position, or to use the arms and/or hands.
  • A significant physical spinal cord problem not quite severe enough to be extreme, combined with a serious limitation in any one of the following mental areas:
    • The ability to understand, remember, or use information.
    • Social interactions
    • The ability to concentrate or to work quickly.
    • The ability to take care of oneself or adapt to new changes.

You will have to submit medical evidence including a doctor’s diagnosis, scan and test results, and statements from caseworkers or other professionals that provide proof of your condition in order to have your claim approved.

Medical Vocational Allowance

You also might qualify for disability benefits under the Medical Vocational Allowance. If you don’t meet the criteria in the Blue Book listing but can’t work because of a spinal cord injury you can file a claim for disability benefits and ask for a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation. If the evaluation finds that there is no full-time work that you can do with your injury your claim for disability benefits can be approved even if you don’t meet the Blue Book listing requirements.

Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits

Applying online for Social Security disability benefits is a good option for most people but if you have questions about the application or need help filing because you want to ask for a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation you can make an appointment at your local Social Security office to apply in person. If you apply in person don’t forget to bring copies of all of your medical documentation with you.


Paraquad: https://www.paraquad.org/

SSA’s Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

Medical Vocational Allowance: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance

Residual Functional Capacity: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/residual-functional-capacity-rfc

Apply Online: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/forms/#h3

Local SSA Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp