Countless professionals with disabilities are poor or are on limited incomes. Some are on some type of disability income and/or disability/health benefits. Often disability income comes way below the poverty line. Other professionals with disabilities are living off savings and have no disability/health benefits even though their degree of disability and their need for support may be the same as those on disability incomes, but because of circumstance, they are not entitled to receive anything.
For instance, the source, type, and amount of disability income, supports, and benefits one may be eligible for may be based on where one lives and how and when someone became disabled. For example, the type and level of support a person with a disability receives varies from province to province, because provinces address disabilities differently. Some provide supports while others do not (or not enough). A person may (if fortunate) be awarded a pension for life and receive such things as benefits, training, post secondary education, supports, treatments, active career support/placement (or acquisition opportunity), and therapy to compensate for future lost income because of becoming paralysed in a workplace accident, whereas a person born with a similar type of disabling condition may not be eligible for anything as the loss of capacity to earn income is for the most part not recognised as the person had the misfortune to be born with a disability. As a result, those who suffer a disability at or before birth are not entitled to be compensated because of the absence of fault on the part of those involved in their care (Though there are cases where parents have sued on behalf of their children who were born with disabilities where fault was identified as being the cause or contributor to the disability.). Therefore, when and how someone became disabled and the criterion used to determine who gets what income and supports (and how much) has a major impact in determining the quality of life, choices, and opportunities for people with disabilities, and the risks they can and cannot afford to take. If we pride ourselves in being a supposedly inclusive, enlightened, and compassionate society, no person with a disability should have to go without the supports and services that they need and be limited to or barred from the choices they want to make and opportunities they want to take.
Other circumstances of not having access to disability income, benefits, and supports may also arise when professionals with disabilities do not meet other criteria to receive it. For example, they may be refused disability income, benefits, and supports, because of such factors as: having recent employment or a skill set that is in demand (even though no one is hiring them); having a “history of employment” while being disabled (however precarious the work history may have been); demonstrating one has the potential to be employed (i.e. volunteering, looking for work); and in some cases, even demonstrating one can take care of oneself without support (even though it may take 3 hours to get oneself ready before leaving home in the morning for work).
Other instances may be due to some restrictive and damaging definitions of who is entitled and not entitled to disability incomes and supports. For example, many employers see potential employees with disabilities as too disabled to work. However, those same people with disabilities are seen as too able for disability incomes and supports even though the community around them sees them as being disabled and should be supported.