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Navigating the Disability Services System: Tips for Advocating for Yourself or Your Loved Ones

<strong>Navigating the Disability Services System: Tips for Advocating for Yourself or Your Loved Ones</strong>


As a person with a disability, you want to ensure that your loved ones have access to the same supports as you do. But navigating the system can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to advocacy or have limited experience navigating it yourself. If this sounds familiar, there are some simple steps to take in order to make sure that both of your lives are taken care of:

Develop a strong relationship with your advocate.

To ensure that your advocate is able to provide the support you need, it’s important to develop a good relationship with them. This can be difficult if the person in question has not been through the system before or if they are new to advocacy work.

However, there are several ways for you and your advocate to form a strong partnership:

  • Establishing trust early on will help build momentum toward achieving your goals together. You should also consider how best to communicate with each other so that everyone knows what needs from each other and when those needs need attention; this will help ensure that both parties keep up-to-date on what’s going on in their cases at all times

Be active in meetings and understand the workings of the system.

  • Ask questions about disability support services, policies and practices that are relevant to you and your loved ones. If you have concerns, ask them directly at meetings or through written communication from your advocate.
  • Make sure you understand what is being discussed by attending meetings where decisions are made on behalf of people who rely on services provided by government agencies such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Veterans Health Administration (VHA). You should also be aware that there may be numerous rules and regulations governing how people with disabilities can access these programs; some of these rules apply only during certain parts of life such as childhood or adolescence while others apply throughout adulthood such as when receiving benefits from Social Security retirement trust funds after reaching age 62 but before turning 65 years old.
  • Understand what process works best for each individual case so that it won’t be overlooked when dealing with SSA representatives who may not know enough about how it affects someone’s daily life needs if they were suddenly disabled due their medical condition instead because they didn’t receive proper training beforehand while working within this field over time.”

Show up to appointments on time and follow through with suggested actions.

If your appointment is at 10 a.m., show up at 9:50 a.m. The system lets you know that it’s important for you to be there at least 15 minutes before the appointment–and your doctor should never be late! If you aren’t able to make a meeting at all, let them know as soon as possible so they can reschedule for another time when things are more convenient or possible for both of them (which could mean a later day or evening).

Find someone who can help you navigate the system.

The disability services system is a labyrinth of rules, regulations and processes. It can be hard to navigate alone. That’s why it’s important to find someone who can help you navigate it.

You should find someone who:

  • Is knowledgeable about the system and how it works;
  • Understands your situation and what kind of assistance you need;
  • Is empathetic;
  • Is available for assistance (if necessary).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, talk to someone about it.

It’s okay to talk about your feelings and ask for help. Don’t be afraid of being heard–it can be a good thing! And remember that there are resources available if needed: family members, friends, advocacy agencies and even professional help are all options worth exploring when navigating the system as an advocate for yourself or someone else with a disability.

Seek out more information about what’s available for you in the state system, both for yourself and for your loved ones.

If you’re a parent of a child who has a disability, or if you are the parent of someone who has a disability, it’s important to know what services are available in your state. You can find out by contacting your local school district or county human services agency and asking them to send you information.

If you want more information about what is available in your area, look at the websites of advocacy organizations such as the National Disability Rights Network ( or the Center for Parent Resources on Disabilities (www.cprdclientservicesdirectory). These sites have a lot of information about all kinds of civil rights issues related to disabilities from around America–including tips on navigating public transit systems like buses and trains so that people with disabilities feel safe using them!

You’ll feel more empowered if you know what’s available in your area

Knowing what’s available in your area will help you advocate for yourself or your loved ones. For example, if you live in Washington D.C., there are several programs that provide assistance with transportation, housing and employment assistance. If someone who lives outside of Washington D.C. applies for those services through their local agency, they may have a harder time finding them than someone who lives closer to them would have–as a result of the geographic distance between them and those services’ offices (and the fact that they may not realize it).


As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of resources available to people with disabilities. However, the system can be overwhelming and confusing. It may seem like there is no one who can help you navigate this system, but that’s not true. You are not alone! There are services out there for people with disabilities like yours who want to advocate for themselves or their loved ones in different ways. If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated by the system, reach out to someone who can help them navigate also because there actually is someone out there for every single person on this planet…even if they don’t know it yet 🙂


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