Does SSDI force poverty on disabled people?
“Oh, you poor person with a disability…”
No really, people with disabilities are poor and they don’t have many options.
I call it forced poverty…and that forced poverty occurs in the form of income caps implemented by SSDI programs.
What is forced poverty?
Did you know?
…that despite the type of disability you have, the monthly federal income standard states if you make more than $1,220 per month you’ll lose your benefits. Yes, you read that right, you can’t make more than $1,220 per month or you lose your benefits. You can have a nominal increase based on the state, but it’s nothing worth noting. Still, $1,220?! How can you comfortably live off of $14,640 a year!? That is less than an individual working full-time at $7.25/hour; $15,080 per year.
There have been big talks about getting people with disabilities into the workforce, even President Trump tweeted about people with disabilities being in the workforce. However, we’re failing to address two major factors that impact people with disabilities and their ability to work; transportation and income caps. These two factors greatly impact people with disabilities and their ability or willingness to return to work.
Why would someone go back to work only to lose their much-needed benefits? Statistically people with disabilities tend to be less educated, therefore the jobs they acquire are minimum wage or just above (unless you’re one of those people getting shafted with sub-minimum wage). These types of jobs barely cover expenses of living let alone costs associated with having a disability, especially if you’ve lost your SSDI benefits.
Increasing access to transportation for people with disabilities will make a huge impact on their ability to work and live a fulfilling life. Just recently I read an article where a woman got fired because her Paratransit transportation chronically picked her up late, resulting in her being late to work multiple times and subsequently getting fired. A lack of reliable transportation makes anyone less desirable as an employee, even I require that of my caregivers.
So, what can we do to fix it?
Increase the Income Cap!
First and foremost, increase the income cap for people with severe disabilities. There is no reason why the amount an individual can earn shouldn’t be a reasonable income, not forced poverty. People with severe disabilities inevitably have expenses related to their disability. If individuals qualified for an income cap exemption or increased cap, they could then afford daily living expenses as well as costs associated with disability…not choosing one or the other.
Increase Funding for Paratransit
Provide greater transportation to people with disabilities. That can be done first by increasing the funding for Paratransit and update the entire system to have a reliable, easily accessible online booking system that sends updates on locations/times.
Increase The Number of Accessible Vehicles in the Market
Targeting the fleets of vehicles that are rented out to Lyft and Uber drivers. There needs to be a standard minimum number of accessible vehicles provided in the options of cars that companies rent out to Uber/Lyft drivers.
Regulate Financial Abuse!
Regulate the financial abuse that occurs regarding modified vehicles. There would be a lot less need for accessible public transportation if people had private transportation. I bought my first vehicle two years after my injury, it was a $65,000 Honda Element. SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS! I could have bought a Porsche at the time. The modification itself cost $35,000, way more than the entire car, and that was just a ramp. Why? Because they can. Today it’s the same story. My friend is trying to get a vehicle with a joystick and he was quoted $90,000 JUST FOR THE SYSTEM! Not even the van conversion, that’s another $40k!!!! I could buy a whole Tesla with a MUCH more complex computer system for less, the damn thing even drives itself! How can they justify the cost? I don’t know, but if you ask me it sure seems questionable. I find it hard to believe the research and development costs that much, especially in the simple ramp conversions. I’m all for capitalism, but this seems like abuse of need.
In order to increase the disabled workforce we need to do these two things; increasing the income caps and availability to accessible transportation. Without changing the two issues people with disabilities will still struggle to enter the workforce, and we’ll be in the same position we have been for the last 30 years.
PLEASE write your state/federal representatives and US Access Board to ask for change and express the need for reform.
- Forced Poverty - June 4, 2019
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- Disabled Parking: How Disappointing is the Current System! Swallow a Few of These Facts - November 30, 2016