Sex Work and the Road to Disability Benefits

Dee* has struggled with mental health issues her entire life, managing her symptoms as best she can on her own. She’s always had difficulty holding on to jobs, and her symptoms only got worse over time. 

In 2013, Dee realized that her conditions were simply insurmountable and made the difficult decision to leave the workforce. She applied for disability benefits, hoping they would keep her afloat. But her application was denied. 

In her desperation, Dee became dependent on sex work to survive. After five years, Dee was still unable to earn a living outside of sporadic sex work, so she applied for benefits again, noting that her symptoms had left her unable to work since 2013.

This time, she had support from Inner City Law Center.

Dee’s Inner City Law Center attorney carefully prepared her case and skillfully represented Dee at her hearing. Thanks to perseverance and hard work, Dee was granted disability benefits beginning retroactively in 2013.

Dee received back pay of over $100,000, allowing her to focus her energy on addressing her mental health issues. Dee is now securely housed and receiving the health care treatment she needs. And instead of struggling to survive every day, she is housed and thriving. 

* Names have been changed and photos may not depict ICLC clients. We take client privacy seriously and make these changes to protect client confidentiality.