Chad you pose an issue that definitely takes a toll on us all unless born into a "silver spoon" family.
I fought the idea of disability for a while; it's a process to come to terms with. I am on disability now for 18 yrs, and got it after being denied once; The denial was not on my being disabled but rather not showing enough quarters of paying into the system; This being not because I had not worked but filed jointly with my husband for the many years we'd been married and self employed. At the recommendation of a lawyer, we amended the filing and assigned half the income earned all that time to me.I was approved and got back pay for the original time I had filed. In addition to the very small disability check, we do a bit of homestead living and have learned to make the $ spent count and learned to live without needing so much money. My husband retired at the time the building industry broke momentum, and we find we live just as well, and enjoy the time together. He retired mostly to be home and keep me supported emotionally and watch out for me "overdoing" b/c stress and my tenacity kept me falling and having more problems b/c I push myself too hard. We live frugally and the years we worked we did pay cash for everything so we do not have monthly bills other than electric phone insurance (minimal). We own our home, b/c we lived in it while building rather than mortgage and we lived in them and then sold and reinvested so it was part of our income we did not have to be taxed on. so, sweat equity got us debt free. We raise a few sheep and goats on our small farm; have chickens and our own milk and raise a small veggie garden. We go to the public library for movies, books and activities. We don't eat out much or go to theaters. We have a motorcycle we ride for "dates" and we have a boat to fish and live in "Ozarks where there is joy in nature, camping etc. We both spend lots of time reading, and using internet for our enjoyment. I sing on Fri. and Sat. night jams locally for entertainment and socializing.
Money does matter but its more what the money buys, and if you look around, you can find things than can give a good life without a lot of money. My daddy taught us "want what you get" and you'll always be happy. That perspective has sure helped me have a pretty nice life in spite of the challenges and difficulties. "It's not what you make, it's how you spend it" was philosophy my dear Father-in-law pointed out. But, we do have to be resourceful sometimes b/c face it this world is more about money not "what matters" LOL
We don't have health insurance but we do a lot of prevention for health as well as I have Medicare with disability, but its just more or less a "piece of mind" if something major were to put me in the hospital; We don't count on it for the general health care but don't go to doctors much; I do have extreme blood pressure issues but have a doctor who is good to help me with meds to keep it under control.
My husband is now on SS at age 63 so our income has increased a little now, and my youngest daughter pays me $200 every two weeks to babysit her daughter 11 hours a day 5 days a week. So, at least now I can use that funding to gift back to the kids and grand kids more than I used to be able to do which gives me joy and pleasure!
We too, had two children about 20 yrs too late but they sure have been a comfort to us in the older years. Now, grandchildren are part of the picture and again a joy and comfort. Our oldest daughter was an only child for 14 yrs, and now have the two youngers who are in early 20's so more to come! We do a lot of family cook outs etc. which contributes to our social life without too much spending! Over all we have a pretty blessed life and yet by the world's standards we don't have a lot! "Poor Folk" sometimes are the "happier" folk!
Recommend you take disability now as it will be based on the last ten yrs of your work; Also your daughter will get it until age 18 b/c of having a disabled parent which helped us a lot. I had 544 and both kids got 160 each. so many yrs I worked and was truly killing myself but age 40 they said I had to stop or be in a nursing home and having someone else raise my kids. The thing is, Chad, it's money you've earned and paid in; so it's not taking anything you haven't earned already and it will help your wife and your daughter. As for being a "stay at home" anyone working things at home and taking care of a child, does much more in many respects than a 9 to 5 job. Home managers are 24/7 plus! Don't allow yourself to down grade who you are and your worth by a darn paycheck ! I've learned with experiencing CMT to work Smarter rather than harder and just b/c you can doesn't mean you should. Access the benefits to the task before deciding to spend the energy is the way to be "ABLE" longer! ~~~CM
Bringing home the bacon doesn't count as much as if its cooked on time and shared with those you love