For those who accuse people who receive Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income payments of taking advantage of the system, a government report recently announced that nearly three in 10 disabled people live in poverty.
The U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reported the findings after receiving feedback over the summer from more than 400 people living with disabilities. The respondents painted a picture disabled people who are able and willing to work, in some cases, but cannot find adequate employment.
Unfortunately, many cited facing employment prejudice, as well as long waits for housing. The fact that SSD benefits stop once the recipient begins earning a certain amount of income frightened some of those interviewed from seeking work.
As a result, nearly 29 percent of disabled Americans are living in poverty, according to Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate committee. Harking called on his colleagues in Congress to take action to reduce that number.
A woman with Down syndrome told the committee that, despite research suggesting that disabled people are often good workers, many employers are unwilling to take a chance on a disabled job applicant. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits many forms of workplace discrimination against people with a disability.
SSD and SSI will make very few families wealthy. In fact, SSI is a need-based assistance program. But both programs provide an important source of income for people unable to work due to a disability and their families. These payments often make the difference between paying for necessities like food and shelter, and not.