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Disability Help Guide Online

Updated August 9, 2017

Senior couple with laptop.
When you tell your story following our precise instructions, you get hands-on, grant-writing practice.

Important. This private page contains proprietary, copyrighted information intended only for subscribers to the Disability Help Guide. It is not to be shared without the express written consent of Ability-Mission.org.

Because this Guide is online, you can access it anytime from any place that you have an Internet connection.

If you need a printable document, use the free online service -- Convert Web Page to PDF -- to convert the entire Guide into a PDF.

The main purpose of this Guide is to encourage and help you get your story in writing, following our clear, precise instructions. This gives you hands-on practice for when you have to follow the same kind of precise instructions of agencies offering grants (or help of any kind).

Remember, "help" means: SSDI, Medicare, medications, food stamps, counseling, wheelchairs, handicap-accessible vehicles, service dogs, discounts, housing, transportation and much more…

Once you get your story in writing and we publish it on our site, you'll have earned the right to access our free Workbook and Pro Tips that make it easier for you to find the help you need.

Warning! When you get the Disability Help Workbook, you'll realize that you have a lot of work ahead of you, because you need to follow through on things yourself for this to work. We show you the things to do, but you have to do them.

Expert Tip. If you feel that telling your story and then following the Workbook might involve too much work for you, you can access the 2000+ pages of free information on our site. Just go to our Search page to find what you're looking for.

The sooner you act, the sooner you'll be liberated. Just do it!

In case you missed our mention of it in an email to you, you can look forward to a great extra benefit -- Grant Writing That Works -- that you'll earn after making it all the way to the Disability Help Workbook. For now, you can check out this Table Of Contents Overview
Once you've made it to the Workbook, you'll have full access to Grant Writing That Works. It's our top authority on writing grants, so you'll want to study it thoroughly and apply its proven principles to getting the help you need.
Outside the USA? The resources we offer are for residents of the USA only. That said, if you're outside the USA, you can still benefit from the METHOD we teach. You simply do your own research to find resources equivalent to those we mention.

Table Of Contents

  1. How Can All This Be FREE?
  2. How To Use This Guide
  3. Why Your Story Is Important
  4. How To Write Your Story Well
  5. How To Make Your Story Work
  6. Whenever You're Ready
  7. Need Help Urgently
  8. What To Do
  9. What Not To Do
  10. Some Editing Guidelines
  11. Your Story Content
  12. Your Story Photos
  13. How To Do Your First Draft
  14. Where To Send Your First Draft

1. How Can All This Be FREE?

Donald Coggan, founder and chairman of Ability Mission!

This Guide comes from Ability-Mission.org, the people's NGO (Non Governmental Organization), a private, charitable operation founded by Donald Coggan, original author of this Guide.

The story editing, polishing and publishing services that Ability-Mission.org provides are completely FREE. So are the instructions and expert advice on how to use your story as a springboard to get the help you're eligible for.

The service we offer to individuals is free for two main reasons:

  1. Our Service Is Well Defined. Rather than offering direct financial aid, we teach people how to go about getting it using proven methods. Instead of giving you a fish, we teach you how to fish.
  2. Advertising Helps Cover Costs. Like on radio stations, advertising revenue helps cover the cost of the services we offer. This ad revenue does NOT affect the unbiased quality of the information we provide and the resources we recommend. Here's an example of an ad supplied by Google.

This is why we can offer this exclusive guarantee of FREE...

If ever you see Ability-Mission.org asking you to pay for its services, just send us the evidence and in return we'll send you $100 by PayPal.

You have nothing to risk except your time. What have you got to gain? Everything you're eligible for! The sooner you start, the sooner you'll find yourself on the way to that better life you're always dreaming of!

2. How To Use This Guide

When you requested this Guide from Ability-Mission.org, you actually requested two things:

1. The Guide Itself

This Guide is comprehensive, yet simple, easy to read and easy to use. It tells you:

  • Why your story is important
  • How to tell your story
  • What your next steps are

Just follow the step-by-step instructions.

2. The Action Items

The Action Items are a series of emails we send you that help you make your story a reality. Every week or so, you'll receive an email from us reminding you of the importance (and the benefits) of the story-telling step and what you must do to make it happen.

Stay subscribed and before you know it, we'll have published your story and you'll be on your way to getting the benefits you deserve.

Remember, Ability-Mission.org does not charge for this service. Guaranteed.

3. Why Your Story Is Important

How can you get all the disability help you're entitled to? You want the answer to this question, right? Especially if you're desperate to escape the physical, mental and financial pain you're suffering because of your disability.

Here's the most important thing you need to know…

No matter what type of assistance you seek, you have to apply for it in writing.

Think about it. Do you see yourself calling benefits agencies, telling them all about your plight and then having them rush to your door with bags full of money?

Of course you don't. You know that it just doesn't work that way.

Even if the only thing you have to do is complete a questionnaire, that's doing it "in writing." Even if you apply online and no paper is involved, that's still doing it "in writing."

All agencies must account for any money or benefits they give out. And they must maintain records. So everything has to be "in writing."

Even to get $10 worth of food stamps, you have to document your need. It's only logical. Without controls, all the scammers and con artists would be at the front of the line. They'd be grabbing what honest people like you should be getting.

Don't let that happen to you. Tell your story and do it right.

What Can Your Story Bring You?

If you've visited Ability-Mission.org and ended up requesting and reading this Guide, you're most likely looking for a GRANT to help pay off your debts and live with dignity.

But what does the word "grant" really mean?

A grant is "free money" that the recipient does not need to repay. It could come to you in various forms of benefits, cash, goods or services, for example:

  • SS Disability
  • Medications
  • Food stamps
  • Counseling
  • Wheelchairs
  • Handicap-accessible vehicles
  • Service dogs
  • And more…

These may be from the government, public or private foundations, trusts or individual donors.

Except for things like Social Security and Veterans Administration benefits, an individual is not likely to deal directly with a government department, but rather with an agency funded by the government.

What If You're Not A Story Teller?

Not a problem! All you have to do is talk about your situation in your own natural words using a simple template. The template helps you get the right information in the right order.

Then, when you go looking for any sort of disability help, you're better prepared.

But wait! There's more! Much more!

When you use this FREE service to tell your story, you get it published on Ability-Mission.org. As a result, not only do you get the right information in the right order, but also:

  • You get your story polished up so others can understand your plight.
  • You make your situation known to a wide audience that could help you.
  • You learn proven ways to use your story to get the help you need.

The thought of writing is scary for many people. With the right help though, you'll be able to do it with ease. There are two parts to this help:

  • Writing Your Story Well – You do this NOW
  • Making Your Story Work – You do this LATER

Only YOU can apply for the disability help (grants and benefits) for which you're eligible. This isn't as frightening as it sounds though, because you will have already completed the BIG step of getting your story right and in writing.

4. How To Write Your Story Well

You take just one action step to get started and that is to write your story following the simple template we provide. In this first step, you send us a draft.

When we receive your draft, we give it a quick look to see if you've followed the template and instructions. If you have, it shows that you have a good chance of succeeding in your search for help. And we then give you the page where you can submit your story officially.

Telling your story is a key part – the very first step – of the process of getting disability help. We want to help you get it right.

Follow the advice of this Guide to increase your chances of getting your story accepted at Ability-Mission.org. While you're doing this, you'll improve the skills you need to apply for disability benefits and to write grants in the future.

Where Your Story Is Published

Shortly after you submit your story officially, you'll get an automated email reply from us (provided you used a working email address).

That email will remind you that we'll edit and polish your story within 10 business days and then publish it as another of the thousands of United States Health Care System Stories That Tell It Like It Is.

Remember…

No matter what type of assistance you hope to receive, your story must be clear and in writing. This is your chance to do it with professional help and at no charge.

A Story Editing Example

Here's a before and after example of an edited and polished story. This is a real story submitted by a real person looking for real help.

Watch for how:

  • The categories help organize the information.
  • The edited version is more presentable and easier to understand.

5. How To Make Your Story Work

After we've published your story, you become eligible to sign up for the Disability Help Workbook, which contains what you need to get the benefits you're eligible for.

The Workbook shows you what you can do, but YOU have to make it work. As we like to say…

"We want to get you help, but we can't want it more than you."

The key to making your story work is for you to be actively engaged in the process. It's actually pretty straightforward, but you know what? Most people don't do it. We want you to be different. We want you to do what's necessary to succeed!

Some of the stuff we show you how to do is so simple. For example, we show you how to respond when someone does something for you or says something to you. For example, if a Good Samaritan makes a helpful comment on your story, you thank him/her for it.

Many people don't make the effort to say thank you. That's downright rude. More importantly though, the person who offered the help doesn't feel like helping anymore.

So, please stay subscribed to our help. You'll learn all the right things to do that will get you closer to the help you need so badly.

6. Whenever You're Ready

Ready to write? Yes? Then our first bit of advice is to take your time and be thorough. Applying for grants and benefits must be done carefully if you want real results. You learn how to do that by writing your story and patiently following the process.

WARNING! Your story will become public, so...

Do NOT Submit If...

Why do we make it public?

  1. A simple basic reason is that it discourages fraudsters. They normally like to work in the shadows of society.
  2. We recommend several crowdfunding platforms that by definition require their content to be public, so you need to start with your own story.
  3. Making it public allows it to be seen by more potential helpers. Chances are that others have "been there, done that" and are happy to share their experiences.

Remember, doing your story is the perfect way to ease into the process of finding grants/benefits/help. When you're following our precise story-telling instructions you're getting hands-on practice for when you have to follow similar detailed instructions when applying for a grant, or any kind of help.

Okay, Let's Get Started!

The rest of the Guide will help you do a solid first draft of your story. Here's what you need to do now:

  1. Review the Solemn Declarations to understand what Ability Mission does and does not do for you.
  2. Use the Search Page to explore the Ability Mission site, especially to find stories about people with disabilities similar to yours.

This will give you the added background you need to do that first draft of your own story following the guidelines below.

Reminder. When you do your story, you are NOT applying for a grant. You're getting hands-on practice in the same grant-writing techniques experts use.

To make sure that you're on the right path, we give you personal feedback on your first draft. This is part of the free service that Ability Mission offers.

Once you've demonstrated that you're ready for the next step, we'll give you the link to the page where you can officially submit your story.

7. Need Help Urgently?

If your need is urgent and you feel you don't have time for the story process, consider these shortcuts:

911 Emergency  symbolizing an urgent need

Click here for free help from the Disability Digest to get and/or maximize your SSDI benefits.

Click here to learn how to supplement your income as a Disability Digest Referral Partner.

These shortcuts are not substitutes for the story process. Contact us if you have any questions.


8. What To Do

  • Be honest. The truth always comes out. When it does, we delete any story that has misrepresented facts.
  • Give detail. Provide specifics about your disability. The more our readers know, the more they can help you.
  • Proofread. Check your spelling and grammar. This helps avoid delays in editing, polishing and publishing your story.
  • Stay real. Keep your expectations realistic. You might get help in a day, a week or a month. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.
  • Be factual. And positive, too! Avoid sounding negative, bitter or self-pitying. Benefits and granting agencies deal only in facts.

9. What Not To Do

  • Do NOT submit your story IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This makes it harder to read and longer to edit.
  • Do NOT submit your story in all lowercase letters. Again, this makes it harder to read and longer to edit.
  • Do NOT use abbreviations. (Avoid ur for your, yr for year, dr for doctor, approx for approximately, appt for appointment, and so on.)
  • Do NOT submit a story that looks skimpy and rushed. Provide the minimum number of words suggested for each section in the form.

10. Some Editing Guidelines

  • Avoid mixing up it's the contraction vs. its the possessive.
  • Don't use an apostrophe to make a word plural.
  • Avoid mixing up effect the noun (usually) vs. affect the verb.
  • Avoid mixing up you're the contraction vs. your the possessive.
  • Avoid mixing up they're, there and their.
  • Watch how you use who, whom, whoever and whomever.
  • Avoid run-on sentences (phrases separated by commas instead of periods).
  • Make sure the subject and verb agree in number.
  • Use could/should/would have and not could/should/would of.
  • Don't mix up then the adverb vs. than the conjunction.
  • Be careful how you use I and me, she and her, he and him, we and us.
  • Be careful how you use well the adverb vs. good the adjective.
  • Split infinitives are okay.
  • Prepositions at the end of sentences are okay.

11. Your Story Content

To make your story effective in helping you get the benefits you deserve, divide it clearly into the following sections. Show the section names in your story.

  • Personal Story – Talk about your age, sex, family, kids, military, etc., but NOT your disability. (50 words or more)
  • Disability Issues – Describe origins, how they've evolved, your official disability status, etc. (100 words or more)
  • Financial Hardship – Describe money issues: home, work, transport, meds, equipment, etc. (100 words or more)
  • Income Efforts – Describe ALL your attempts to obtain income: jobs, work-at-home, SSI, SSDI, church, grants, donations, friends, family, etc. (50 words or more)
  • Specific Needs – Describe what you seek: benefits, grants, SSI, lawyer, advice, sympathy, etc. (50 words or more)
  • Business Idea – If you're looking to finance a business idea, say as much as you can about it (100 words or more). If not applicable, just say it's not applicable to you.

When you write, do NOT use big paragraphs. Instead, break the content down into small paragraphs of not more than two or three sentences. This makes it easier for people to read it on the web.

If you're writing your own story, you'll naturally do it in the first-person. Sometimes (rarely) a friend might write your story for you. It still has to be in the first person, as though you were writing it yourself.

Our system has a story size limit of 10,000 characters (characters, not words). Please respect that limit. In any case, our experience with over 2,000 stories shows that 10,000 characters is more than enough to tell your story following our content guidelines.

12. Your Story Photos

Before you put any effort into writing your story, be aware that you MUST include at least one good photo of yourself as part of your story content.

This is not unusual. A photo is a standard requirement for crowd-funding operations that we recommend, such as gofundme.com.

When you submit your first story draft, you'll include a photo. We'll give you feedback on both your story and your photo(s).

So what makes a good photo? You do! So you have to be the subject of at least one. Let your photo clearly show others your human side.

Just send your basic unedited photos. A family photo is always a good way to start. You can send up to six large photos and we’ll take care of any enhancing, clipping, color correcting and resizing needed to make the photo work with your story.

In general, your photos will appear in your story in three different ways. Here are examples to inspire you.

1. Landscape Orientation, Center Aligned

This is the one that makes the biggest impact. We size it to 800x495 pixels, a very close fit to the famous "golden ratio." With the right photo content (you), it's a natural winner.

The Ideal Story Photo, Landscape Orientation, Center Aligned
The Ideal Story Photo

2. Portrait Orientation, Left Aligned

Portrait Orientation, Left Aligned Photo Showing Caregiver And Patient In Wheelchair

In general, we'll use a portrait orientation when your photo is not big enough to span the entire screen.

This photo is 300x450 pixels. It's a bit longer than we would like, but sometimes the content (2 people, 1 of them standing) is the determining factor.

Although this photo is left aligned, the content would allow it to work as a right-aligned photo.

The more substantial your story, the more room there is for photos. But one good one is 1000 times better than none at all!


3. Portrait Orientation, Right Aligned

Cherree Weeks

Again, we'll use a portrait orientation when your photo is not big enough to span the entire screen.

This photo is 300x400 pixels. The ratio of width to height, along with the great content (one person with a happy facial expression) make this a pretty good example for you to follow

Because the woman is looking toward the left of the page, this one works beautifully as a right-aligned photo.

Again, the more substantial your story, the more room there is for photos whether center, left or right aligned.


Now, if you're comfortable with the idea of your photo being part of your story, you're ready to move on to writing your first draft.

13. How To Do Your First Draft

Image of cover of story draft guide and sample.

Remember, when you do the first draft of your story following our guidelines, you're actually practicing the art and science of grant writing.

As part of our free services, we give you personal feedback on your first draft (and photos). Once you've produced a solid first draft, we show you where you can officially submit your final draft.

Please download and use this story draft guide and sample to help you draft your story. Just copy and paste your draft into an email or a document you can attach to an email.


14. Where To Send Your First Draft

Once you've completed a solid draft of your story, email it to us with the content:

  • EITHER in the body of your email
  • OR in an attached document (.doc, .docx, .txt and .rtf formats only).

We'll do a quick review and if it looks like you've followed our guidelines, we'll let you know where to submit it officially. If it looks like you need to rework your story, we'll let you know that too.

Please check every single item in this list to make sure you've got it all together before you send anything.
 Written in the first-person
 Includes section headings
 Includes photo(s)
 Spell and grammar checked
 Has small paragraphs (1-2 sentences)
 Has short sentences (10-12 words)
If you can check every single item, congratulations! You're ready to send!

Here's where to send your first draft and photos.

draft@ability-mission.org

REMINDER! Your story is NOT an application for grants/money. It is simply the first step of a multi-step process of seeking, finding and getting help, all as detailed in the materials that you sign up for after we publish your story.