The Catch 22 of Working While Disabled

Michea B
4 min readJan 1, 2022
A group of “male” and “female” symbols stand on one side of a chasm, with a single disabled symbol on the other side.

This article began as a post on Reddit, it has since been expanded upon.

Something that often comes up in discourse about the “labor shortage” is why more disabled people don’t work if they are “able” to work. I figured I would share just one example of why those of us who are on disability are essentially forced to either not work, or make our conditions worse just to be able to survive.

Those of us in the disabled community are looked down upon as “burdens” and as a drain on resources, with people constantly ignoring the contributions we actually can provide to society simply because those contributions don’t fit the model of capitalism and selling your body to the machine. Those of us who are writers, artists, musicians, educators, and more are repeatedly told that we need to either do a “real job” (read: a job that is made for the extraction of labor in exchange for company profits) or become famous enough to justify our “hobby.”

When we do find a job we are able to do, there are regularly strings attached to keep us either under a specific level of income (such as paying us less than minimum wage) or our hours have to be kept to a certain amount so that we don’t go over our income limit. Doing so can either result in a dollar for dollar removal from our Social Security (if we’re on SSDI) or in some cases cause our benefits to be removed completely (SSI deals with this one a lot more). For many of us, we cannot go above the poverty line for our state either which adds an even larger hurdle for us to overcome to be part of the “workforce.”

Note: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

In the above image, you can see that the poverty line for a single person is not much less than for a couple, meaning we are also punished if we are in a committed relationship or married. This income limit often results in the loss of income based services, so it effectively forces couples to separate, forces them to divorce, or prevents them from getting married. And yes, this is yet another form of acceptable eugenics that exists when it comes to dealing with disabled people.

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Michea B

Queer|Pronouns he/they. Owner of Illuminatus Design. Degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies (GSWS, Psychology, English) & Theology (M:Div)