United Spinal Association

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Our mission is to improve the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). More
Our leaders are dedicated to advancing the organization's principles and goals and to achieving the highest level of service to the spinal cord injury community. More
History and Quick Facts
Formed by paralyzed veterans, United Spinal has been serving the SCI community since 1948. More
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What we do at United Spinal
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United Spinal's services enable people living with SCI/D to pursue rewarding lives and careers.
Ask Us
Our Ask Us program gives members and the public an opportunity to obtain one-on-one information and guidance.
Spinal Cord Injury and Disease. More
Veterans Benefits. More
Wheelchairs & Assistive Technology. More
Veterans Assistance
United Spinal's VetsFirst assists disabled veterans and their families in obtaining the benefits that they are entitled to.More
Public Policy
Our Public Polciy staff are actively involved in advocating for laws and regulations that are beneficial to people with disabilities. More
Wheelchair Advocacy
United Spinal's UsersFirst and its following advocate for appropriate wheelchairs and equipment. More
National Support Groups
Our network of affiliated support groups provide peer-to-peer support to persons with SCI/disease, caregivers, and family members. More
Accessibility Services
Accessibility Services is a United Spinal program devoted exclusively to making our built environment accessible to people with disabilities. More

Membership & Resources

Membership & online resources
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Membership Division
National Spinal Cord Injury Association is the membership division of United Spinal Association. More
Hospital Membership. More
Business Members. More
Organizational Members. More
Informative Publications
United Spinal provides a diverse selection of educational and informative publications. More
Ongoing webinars on disability related topics of interest. More
Membership Magazine
Life in Action keeps our members informed and up to date on United Spinal and disability issues. More
United Spinal's New Mobility Magazine covers a diverse selection of contemporary topics that are of interest to wheelchair users. More
Assistive Technology Guide
United Spinal's TechGuide offers an online resource to wheelchairs, wheelchair reviews, and assistive technology sources. More
Accessible Travel
Able To Travel is our travel agency dedicated to accessible travel.More

United Spinal and Allsup Highlight Resources for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

| September 17, 2013

United Spinal Association and Allsup, a nationwide provider of and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and veterans disability appeals, highlight assistance and resources for those living with SCI during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month in September.

About 200,000 Americans live with a spinal cord injury (SCI), and up to 20,000 new spinal cord injuries occur each year, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports that the average annual medical cost for individuals with SCI is $15,000–$30,000, with an estimated lifetime cost of $500,000 to more than $3 million, depending on the severity of the injury.

“People often associate spinal cord injuries with paralysis and loss of limb function,” said Paul J. Tobin, president & CEO of United Spinal Association. “However, traumatic injury to the spinal cord can affect the respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal systems as well. There are also the psychological effects of SCI, such as depression and anxiety.”

These conditions often require considerable time in physical therapy, rehabilitation and vocational training before an individual can return to work. If a person with SCI expects to be out of work for at least 12 months, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program employers and employees pay for through payroll (FICA) taxes. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals under full retirement age who can no longer work because of a severe disability. They qualify for Medicare 24 months after their SSDI eligibility date. However, obtaining SSDI benefits is not easy. More than two-thirds of initial applications are denied.

“As soon as you know you have a medical condition that will keep you from doing any work for at least 12 months, you should apply for SSDI,” said Edward Swierczek, Allsup senior claimant representative. “Let your treating physicians know you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and ask for their support.

“Be prepared for the SSA to tell you that you can do ‘other’ work if you have a significant impairment that precludes your past work and you are under age 50.”

Despite high unemployment rates among people with disabilities, about a third of people with spinal cord injuries continue to work.

“Being an active member of the workforce is part of our identity and helps define our role in American culture. It is important for people to know that despite severe disabilities, people can re-enter the workforce and put themselves on the path to economic independence,” said Tobin.

“United Spinal Association is committed to ensuring that people with spinal cord injuries and disorders are educated about work opportunities afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the wide range of programs and services that enable our members to reach their employment goals,” he added.

To learn more about United Spinal Association’s programs and services visit

For more information on SSDI and a free eligibility screening, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (888) 841-2126 or visit for a free SSDI evaluation.

Category: Featured, United Spinal News

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