Thirty-Two Years After the ADA Enacted, the Disability Community Continues to Struggle with Poverty
This week marks the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990. According to data from the CDC, approximately 61 million Americans live with disabilities. This means one in four Americans live with a severe medical impairment that impacts their mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living or self-care. The ADA legislation has been ground-breaking in providing physical accessibility and non-discrimination in employment. Still, the unemployment for persons with disabilities remains high. The unemployment rate for a disabled person is 14.4 percent compared to 9.5 percent in the general population. Today many in the disabled community continue to live in poverty.
Many adults with disabilities who were never able to enter the workforce receive Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The SSI maximum benefit is currently $841 a month. This computes to an annual income of $10,092.00. The federal poverty level for 2021 for a household of one is $12,880. Income eligibility for SSI has not been adjusted since 1989. It remains at an asset and income limit of $2000 for an individual and $3000 for a couple. Excluding a home used a residence and one car, all other income/assets must place the individual below the poverty level.
The average benefit for an SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) individual is $1236 per month. These benefits are earned from working and paying FICA payroll taxes over a period of time. This average benefit translates to $14,832 per month.