Disability and Health in New York State

At some point in their life, almost everyone will have a disability. It may last for a short time or be permanent.

People can be born with a disability or get one later from illness or injury.

  • More than 1 in 4 or 26% of New York State adults have one or more disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are more likely than people without a disability to have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Emergency Preparedness

Being prepared means planning ahead. Making sure you are safe before, during, and after and emergency or natural disaster is important. People with disabilities may be especially vulnerable during and after emergencies. Here are some tips and strategies to help you plan for these situations:

  • Create your personal support network. This is your "self-help" team. These are the people who know your needs and are willing to help in an emergency.
  • Complete a personal assessment. This includes any assistance you may need before, during, or after an emergency. Think about personal care, daily medications, service animal needs, and adaptive devices and equipment that require electricity.
  • Make an emergency plan. Share your assessment with your personal support network, make an emergency plan and practice emergency evacuation drills.

For further information please visit the NYS Office of Health Emergency Preparedness.

Taking Care of Your Health

You can be healthy with a disability. Being healthy means the same thing for everyone – getting and staying well so you can live a full life. The first step to being healthy is having a good relationship with each of your health care providers.

When looking for a health care provider, ask for suggestions from people you trust. Your insurance company may also be able to give you a list of health care providers near you.

  • See where your health care provider's office is located. Can you easily get there? For example, is it on the bus line?
  • Is the practice open when you need it? How does it handle off-hours questions and emergencies?
  • Are other services offered at the practice, such as lab tests, X-rays, and MRIs?
  • Ask the provider if they can help you with specific needs:
    • Can they help you fill out forms or transfer to an exam table?
    • Do they have adjustable exam tables?
    • Can they help arrange for transportation if appointments run late?

Ask questions and look until you find the best provider and practice for you.

Speak Up for Yourself

Be informed. Ask questions.

You play an important role in your health care. You will be better able to manage your care and get well faster if you know how to stand up for yourself.

Skills needed to advocate for yourself:

  • Be prepared to ask questions.
  • Learn to solve your own problems. Make your own decisions. If you need help, ask someone you trust to help you.
  • Understand your disability and the care you need.
  • Know how to fully describe your disability to your health care provider.
  • Prepare to talk to your health care provider about your symptoms and health concerns. Take along a list of questions for your provider to answer.
  • Know how much your disability affects you. This will help you and provider decide what help you need if you're sick or injured.

Disability and Health Publications

  • Adapt the Fun for Everyone!: Physical activity is important for everyone. By using your knowledge and thinking creatively, you can expand your audience to include people of all abilities. Learn ways to adapt exercises so everyone can participate.
  • Planning Events Everyone Can Attend: This publication provides tips on planning meetings, conferences, health fairs, and other events in which everyone can participate.
  • Disability Etiquette (PDF): Disability etiquette promotes goodwill and respect among all people. It helps make society more inclusive for everyone. This publication provides information on respectful communication and etiquette tips for specific disabilities. This publication is also available in Spanish.
  • Quick Disability Etiquette Tips (PDF): This one-page document is an excerpt from the Disability Etiquette publication and provides a summary of disability etiquette tips. This publication is also available in Spanish.

Disability Data and Statistics

  • Everybody, Let's Get Moving! (PDF): An infographic that describes the benefits of physical activity, regardless of ability.
  • BRFSS Reports: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an annual statewide telephone survey of adults developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the New York State Department of Health. These BRFSS reports provide demographics and key findings on behaviors, risk factors, and prevalence of selected chronic conditions of New York State adults living with a disability.
  • Information for Action: The Information for Action (IFA) is a one-page communication that provides relevant data to mobilize public health action.
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption (PDF): An infographic that depicts sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults with disability.

Disability Benefits

The Department of Health does not provide disability benefits.

If you get sick or injured when you're not at work, the NY State Insurance Fund Disability Benefits can help: www.nysif.com. You may qualify to receive money for a short period of time. You may also qualify if you have a disability from being pregnant.

Were you injured on the job? You may be eligible for Workers' Compensation coverage.Learn more by visiting the NYS Worker's Compensation Board website: www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/Workers/Workers.jsp You may also call them, toll-free at:1-800-353-3092.

Visit Social Security for information on their programs. Find out if you are eligible for Social Security benefits and apply for Social Security Disability benefits.