Congress Wants to Reduce Barriers to Success for the Disabled

May 24, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Congress Wants to Reduce Barriers to Success for the Disabled
(Photo by Elevate via UnSplash)

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel sought answers Tuesday for how to help the disabled evade the stereotypes, abuse and depression that often push them into persistent failure.

“They’re forgotten or they’re an afterthought,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, who formerly worked as a lawyer representing disabled persons, during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

They also suffer unemployment at twice the national average, forcing many of them into poverty and homelessness.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently in its annual review of disabled persons in the labor market that in 2021 their employment rate increased but they continue to lag behind the rest of the population.


The number of disabled persons took a sharp upward turn during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. About 1.2 million more Americans identify as disabled because of long COVID-19, which refers to headache and fatigue symptoms that can linger months or years after falling ill.

The pandemic is making Congress reconsider who can collect public benefits for the disabled as long COVID scourges its victims with both health and financial problems.

A recent report from the nonprofit Solve Long Covid Initiative estimated a $386 billion financial burden on the U.S. economy from 2020 to 2022 from long COVID’s effects on employment, savings and medical expenses.

One of the primary benefits to help them cope is Social Security Disability Insurance, which provides monthly payments to persons with medically determinable disabilities that restrict their employment opportunities.

To qualify for the benefits, applicants must prove they are limited by a physical impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months.

“Now with COVID long haulers, it’s particularly difficult,” Garcia said.

Many questions linger about whether long COVID meets the criteria for benefits, according to representatives of the disabled community who testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion.

They also asked lawmakers to use the COVID-19 benefits reconsideration as an opportunity to seek broader solutions to the economic challenges of the disabled.


“Removing barriers to economic security for disabled people” will unleash prosperity for them, said Vilissa Thompson, co-director of the nonprofit Disability Economic Justice Collaborative.

The barriers include employment, obtaining credit and housing, she and other witnesses said.

A Center for American Progress public policy institute report this week said that “not addressing obstacles to the employment of disabled workers wastes a massive source of innovation at a point when the U.S. economy faces a wide range of challenges, including climate change, health care costs and an aging population, among others.”

Congress is considering relaxing the standards for the disabled to obtain Social Security.

Other proposals would require public release of data on employers who either welcome or restrict job access for the disabled and would eliminate at least part of the college loan debt for handicapped students.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, who chairs the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, said the pervasiveness of disability shows the need to act.

“Nearly one in four Americans lives with a disability of some kind,” Beatty said.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, said the challenge for Congress is to figure out how to increase opportunities for the disabled.

“The role here in Congress is to make sure people with disabilities are treated the same under the law,” he said.

Some of the opportunities could come from new assistive technologies, he said.


One of them rolled out this week in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It consists of a free app that can be downloaded onto mobile phones. It uses audible instructions to tell blind users how many steps to take, and where to turn and stop as they move toward their destinations within the transit system.

Tom can be reached at [email protected] and @TomRamstack

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

July 1, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Trump Advisor Bannon Seeks a Trial Delay on Contempt Charge

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial... Read More

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial for contempt of Congress after recent hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol created an "unprecedented level... Read More

July 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Unveils Updated Dome Directory App

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work... Read More

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work better and with more transparency for its members’ constituents. In 2015, for instance, it was Hoyer, with help from his staff, who released the Dome Watch... Read More

June 30, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Environmentalists Tell Congress Recycling Could Create a Market Opportunity

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes... Read More

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes on the same day the Supreme Court dealt the Biden administration’s environmental agenda a severe setback. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee promoted legislation to eliminate... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Medicare Advantage Program Slammed for High Costs and Lack of Efficiency

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and... Read More

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and now members from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are focused on how to establish better protections for America’s seniors.  “One of the promises of... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Congress Drops Waiver to Allow Free School Meals for All Students

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal programs ahead of the expiration of pandemic-era waivers, but to expedite the bill’s passage before the expiration on June 30, Congress tossed a key provision to... Read More

June 28, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Former White House Staffer Says Trump Encouraged Jan. 6 Riot

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol came from a Trump White House staff member Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to the president’s chief of staff, testified that President Donald Trump... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top