- Are you a person with a disability or blindness?
- Do you need help with your disability to work or go to school?
- Do you wonder why God won’t help you?
- Has disability had a negative impact on your thoughts and feelings?
- Do you need help getting access to services or benefits for legally blind or disabled?
- Are you a veteran and need help with applying or appealing a claim for veterans’ benefits?
It is quite common for a person who experiences blindness or disability or even a friend or family member to ask for help in navigating the very complex nature of blindness and disability. A person, their family or friend may be struggling with overwhelming negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about disability or blindness. The person with a disability or support system may be wondering how to access the benefits that they may qualify for based on entitlement programs or social services from non-profits. The person may be deaf or hard of hearing, blind, physically disabled, or have what many people refer to as an “invisible” disability that may affect their learning in school, ability to get and keep a job, or to live independently.
DISABILITY CONSULATION FOR GREATER PEACE AND INDEPENDENCE
My approach to disability consultation can take on many different forms because of my unique background. My education, experience, and credentials are essentially what give me credibility for my opinion even though anybody who has ever lived with a disability or has become an advocate because of a family member or friend who has experienced a significant disability will tell you that they learn more that way than any other way. The same is true for me.
An important fact to remember is that disability is a part of life. It’s nearly impossible for us not to experience disability at some point in our lives. I believe that it’s important that we treat each and every person with the dignity that they deserve, no matter how young or old, or how they may have lived their lives or their abilities. That’s my approach and I try to help others do the same through advocacy, even though some do not understand or agree with how disability affects a person’s life.
Disability consultation is essentially the general service of where to start if you or someone that you love is having trouble with accessing reasonable accommodations or modifications, services or benefits, or adjusting to blindness or disability. In the first session, I will work with you towards understanding your unique and specific needs and determine the primary service that is the best fit for you. You may only need one session or you may need more comprehensive services such as psychotherapy, case management, or even alcohol or substance abuse counseling. Additionally, if you are an employer, business, school, or government entity who would like to become voluntarily compliant with ADA or other disability civil rights laws such as the Rehabilitation Act, this service is available to you as well. When working with agencies that want to become voluntarily compliant, I can answer one or a few questions at a time or we can dive deeper into more complete evaluation and consultation, which will be dependent upon the needs and goals that your representative identifies.
ALTHOUGH YOU MAY SEE THE BENEFITS OF DISABILITY CONSULTATION, YOU MAY STILL HAVE SOME QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROCESS…
I am newly blind or disabled. I am angry, confused, and I don’t know where to start.
To lose your eyesight or experience a new disability can feel devastating because no matter what you have lost, it feels like you lost not only a part of you, but you. You no longer feel like the same person and many, if not all, of your opportunities that you had planned for your life have been taken away from you. Family members and friends may initially gather around you in support, but then they may abandon you. You may have lost your income and don’t know how to access your benefits. If you were self-employed or had little work history, that can make it even more difficult to qualify for benefits. The good news is that a one-hour consultation may be the place to start. After I hear a little about you and your history, I may be able to tell you where to go and what to do next. I cannot make you any promises or guarantees about success because I do not know you and your personal history. However, I have a wealth of knowledge and resources that I may be able to provide you about disability benefits and services, including veterans’ benefits. Many of my clients find out about information that they didn’t previously know about and many find hope and healing after they follow-through with my recommendations.
My son or daughter is in the military and they are going to be medically retired. How can I help him or her?
I have a combined twenty-five years of experience with the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation process, which includes different medical retirements. The VA’s disability claims process can be a daunting task for anyone to go through and the medical retirement system is even worse when they determine the ratings. If your son or daughter is not yet out of the military, it may benefit your son or daughter for them to talk to me or a good advocate through one of the non-profits before they leave the military because military medical records can help or hurt the VA disability claims process. While it’s not a complete lost cause if we have not spoken beforehand, the claim should be filed as soon as possible after exiting the military and with the help of someone who is familiar with filing VA claims. It is critical that along with getting a copy of their military medical records, that they also get copies of any outside medical records, and duplicate copies of any images on discs (e.g., MRI, CT, etc.) or videos (VEEG) USB flash drives for their personal records because the hospitals are only required to keep records for seven years and the military doesn’t provide these automatically. These may be needed later. A minimum one-hour initial consultation is recommended for situations like these.
We received a request to provide an accommodation, but we don’t think it’s necessary or reasonable.
All requests for accommodations or modifications are required to be determined on a case-by-case basis and as to whether the accommodation or modification is reasonable is part of that determination. There are some general guidelines that I can provide you and we can discuss your unique circumstances and the individual’s needs, including if you are mandated by ADA, Rehabilitation Act or some other disability civil rights law to provide an accommodation or modification. However, generally speaking, there are only a few limits to when you may deny an accommodation or modification if you are mandated to provide them and you will need to continually evaluate to determine if the accommodation or modification is working. If you are a religious entity, you may or may not be exempt from the mandates of some of these disability civil rights laws; however, there are certain exceptions where you are required to be in compliance. Additionally, even if you are not required to provide an accommodation or modification, regardless of the law and the type of organization that you are, my services are available to you so that you can determine what you really want to do and if your current operating procedures reflect the ethics, morals, values, or advertising that you portray to your community.
God could’ve stopped this from happening to me or He could be helping me more now.
That’s true. God could’ve chosen someone else to be blind or disabled. He could’ve even chosen to provide you additional resources such as a more supportive family, friends or you could’ve been born at another time when the world was different and technology was more advanced so that you didn’t have to experience what you are experiencing now. The world may not be as good as it is now though either or you could’ve been born into severe poverty, in a different part of the world and in a war zone. But we don’t get the pleasure of reading God’s mind or heart. We only have the history book (Catholic Bible) with over 2000 years of writings maintained by the Catholic Church, the example of the saints and the mystics (approved by the Catholic Church), other Catholics (Christians) who seek to live a holy life, and a personal opportunity to have a relationship with the one and only true God who loves us and wants to have a deep, personal relationship with us for all of eternity. It’s actually quite a bit. Help is available to you, but you need to be willing to ask for it and make the investment in yourself. If you can believe that you are worth it and devote the time needed to help yourself, your situation may only need a one-hour consultation or it may require some more intensive services. Sometimes, people require a few consultations as they follow-through on the advice that I provide them. God offers his help in many different ways, which sometimes means learning to take responsibility for your life by paying for a service from someone who can help you. The choice is yours.
START TODAY WITH DISABILITY CONSULTATION FROM FORGIVEPRAYLOVE
If you have any further questions about disability consultation from Catholic therapist, Gianna Elms, LCSW or would like to schedule an appointment, I offer prorated consultations based on my hourly rate with a minimum charge of $35 before 6:00pm and $40 after 6:00pm for a 15-minute consultation Monday-Saturday. (Hourly and prorated rates are based on Arizona time.) Take the first step to schedule a consultation today.