I just want to share something that makes me think society doesn’t value disabled people. I am very relieved to be on disability because I cannot function at the moment. It is necessary. However, one cannot help but notice it is not exactly a living wage, is it? So it sort of makes me wonder about our society’s values and how it treats those in need.

living wage vs. disability income

My example is financial and Canadian. Because I am Canadian, eh? But the example likely works with different numbers in many, many places… if not worse in places. And better in a small fraction of places.

CPP (Canada Pension Plan) disability.

This is our federal disability that you get when you have contributed to society to work but become disabled. Basically, this is the disability reserve you Earn while working in case it is needed for disability… and if not it is the income we get when we are seniors. And it seems to me for all the work we do it isn’t all that much we get in return for that.

“For 2018, the average monthly CPP disability pension is $971.23 and the maximum monthly amount is $1,335.83. You will receive the basic monthly amount fixed for all recipients ($485.20), plus an amount based on how much you contributed to the CPP during your entire working career.” Canada Pension Plan

Okay, so I got less than average.

Let’s use the most for our example. And in fact, with my LTD (long term disability from work) plus the CPP-D I make less than the most so the example is feasible.

1335.83 X 12 months = 16029.96 per year gross (this will be, naturally, taxed)

But, most of us, are not getting that maximum. I would say average? $900 or so. Either way, the Most possible is just 16k. And isn’t that pretty sad considering that is the maximum you will receive?

The minimum living wage in Alberta

Minimum wage is 15/hour. And this is the wage it is considered to be able to live off of.

Full time: 15X40X52= 31,200 a year gross

So certainly we are Not considered anywhere near an actual living wage. And the living wage is where it should in fact be. The wage it takes to be able to live working a job rather than 3 jobs… it is a good thing it is where it is at. And I will be happy for it if I can ever return to work. In this area, the government is doing what is right for people.

Low income here is considered to be 22, 133 a year. So when we become disabled we are well below that.

And even if you are on a provincial disability income like AISH in Alberta the income is only $1685 per month, assuming your spouse or partner make no income and assuming you are eligible considering your spouse or partner may make income or you have any real assets.

So how is it with disability income from the government we do not make anywhere near an actual living wage? It bothers me a great deal the discrepancy of the two numbers. When you think of all the things we do, out of pocket, for our health that we cannot do once we become disabled… it matters. And not only that but we are not every over the poverty line. That seems unjust to me.

And let’s consider those out of pocket costs we are supposed to do for our health with such a pathetic income:

  • Vitamins prescribed by a doctor
  • Vitamins and supplements considered beneficial for our condition
  • Alternative or complementary treatments that they say will help better than the pain killers no one actually prescribes anymore. Acupuncture, massage therapy, psychologists… the list is endless.
  • Forms filled out by doctors 50-100 bucks per form
  • Prescriptions not covered by insurance.
  • Special Diets- which try doing when you are going to the food bank. It isn’t happening.
  • Over the counter medications… for nausea and so forth.

This is why we have trouble financially when we have to go on disability. Why we push so hard Not to become disabled, but sometimes that cannot be avoided. Why we have then issues paying any debts we have. Why just a simple budget is an issue. Why we cannot afford to do all these out of pocket expenses.

Maybe it is to discourage people from becoming disabled, eh? Like we have a choice about that or something.

I know there are a small fraction of people faking things to get on disability and I call those people idiots. Because any minimum wage job you like can give you twice the income.

And maybe the government thinks… hey you are disabled so we can totally get away with paying you like a part-time income, and tax it, because what are you spending money on? Maybe a mortgage and debts and all those health things I listed and more just like normal people? Instead, we are all ‘should I get that med… or no. Should I try that alternative treatment… or eat?’

And I am not saying it is Bad. I mean, we have the program there for when we need it. And I need it. All I am saying is that I desperately wish I didn’t need it because then maybe I would have some financial security now and in the future. And I think for those who do not get LTD from an employer that is a rough spot to be in to try and live. And for those that are single… worse. Those with children and single? I have no clue how they even manage. It is brutal no matter what. More brutal the more obligations you have and the less of a support network you have.

Maybe they should raise it Above the poverty line. That at least would be some progress. I mean at the Very Least we should be at or just above the poverty line in income when we become disabled. At the very least. Not dropped below it.

One should rate their society by how they treat the most vulnerable within it. And Canada is pretty good really. Compared to some places. But in this, I think we are devalued because we are disabled. Not talked about. Put aside. And forgotten.

I am glad for the income I get. Better than nothing, right? And nothing is what it would be since I am currently incapable of working. I will take what I can get. But it causes some problems. As in how to pay for debts. How to budget. How to live. It gets all really complicated and complicated choices have to be made.

See other disability posts

Invisible disability: good employers and bad employers
Disability: See me smiling
Question: is fibromyalgia a disability

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17 thoughts on “Living wage vs. Disability income

  1. I have struggled with this… I have never fought about the amount I get from disability because it definitely is way below a living wage! Why? I’m embarrassed to even be on disability! I can’t get past it, so I take what I’m given, our numbers in the US are right in line with Canada’s. You had a career, so did I. I was making about $60,000 a year. This was back in 1998. Now, currently on disability, about 13,000 a YEAR, taxable. WTF? I’ve been paying into disability since I was 15 years old. This is not right! But, who are we? Disabled free loaders. This is just a slap in the face, every month. Why anyone would ever try to get on disability… I have no idea, the pay sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it is the reason I out it off for so long… just trying to get through and making things worse until I couldn’t function. It is just financial hell and no one wants that

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the US. I finally broke down and applied and am hugely relieved, to be receiving Disability. But without my Husband’s earnings, we would be destitute. It makes me incredibly sad to know that many people suffer more, symptomatically, over the inability to pay for treatment because they have to choose food first. It’s sad that many are left in that predicament daily. It shouldn’t come down to that.
    Great post. Thank you!! ~Stacey

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m in Ontario, and I was told the government won’t let you collect disability until you have used up all your CPP.. I’m now sixty three and will have ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) taken away when I turn sixty five. What am I suppose to live off then. What a wonderful system of paying the wealthy and leaving the down trodden out in the streets.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This absolutely the nail on the head. Personally this is where I’m at and have been for 20 years, was self employed and MVA and court case… settlement which took six years to settle, married with three small children under 7, single income nightmare.
    Trying to feed cloth pay living expenses for five. I was the bread earner…. remember that to choose between used winter boots for child or ground meat for dinner( boots won) eggs for dinner again!! Terrible frightening time dehumanizing demoralizing, although you let go of so much of your pride and almost everything else when you are trying to survive. I know people who are pushed beyond endurance, who have to make terrible choices to survive… selling their much needed meds for food to
    people who are addicted, People who call quit and end their lives.
    This is ugly harmful and deadly.
    Very difficult to have a reasonable conversation about an inhuman Canadian reality.
    Let’s take our shame and place it where it belongs and on those responsible for this inhumanity….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I only saw this post of yours just now. It’s an important issue, an important topic. I wonder what it’s like in the US, which is where I live, but having something below a living wage for disability income is appalling.

    Liked by 1 person

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