Redefining Yourself after a Disabling Accident or Injury

Many of us define ourselves by what we do every day. Even if you do not particularly like your job, it is often one of the first questions we ask a new acquaintance: “So, what do you do?”

If you always have worked and are too young to retire that question can be a minefield for a newly disabled person, especially if your condition is not visible to others. You know that you are not working for a good reason, but sometimes you wonder if friends and family really believe that you are ill or injured. Sometimes, you might even wonder yourself.

Finding purpose, and an answer to that casual question, can take time. Because of your physical condition, you may be unable to work full-time, and you may find difficulty in meeting obligations, depending on how you are feeling that day. Your pain or the side effects of your medications may make it hard for you to concentrate. It is easy to decide that “being disabled” is your new career.

We have found that our clients who find a new passion adjust much better to the changes in their lives than those who do not. Even if you spend only a few hours a week, on your own schedule, on your new interest, it can help you to recover the self-esteem and feeling of value that you used to get from your job. Many people find that helping others takes their minds off their own problems and allows them to realize the ways in which they are still thriving.

Of course, if you are receiving disability benefits, you have to be careful that your new part-time interest will not lead to Social Security deciding that you have recovered enough to go back to work even if that is in fact not the case. Contact our office if you are concerned that your new activities may cause Social Security to reexamine your continued eligibility for benefits.

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