It is no secret that disabled people in America face discrimination in the workplace. They have a tough time finding employment because of how they are perceived by employers of not being able to do the job or being too much trouble given the need for them to have time off every once in a while.
Unfortunately, this type of treatment persists despite the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Not only does it result in higher rates of unemployment among disabled people, it results in widespread poverty.
A recent investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions found that major social and economic barriers still thwart disabled Americans on a regular basis. The committee obtained feedback from 400 disabled people from across the country who described the issues they had integrating into mainstream society. They include years long wait lists for appropriate housing, poor (and pretextual) excuses for not hiring disabled candidates, and lack of access to public transportation.
The committee found that twice as many disabled people lived in poverty compared to able bodied Americans. Moreover, only 30 percent of people in this category are participating in the workforce. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said that this represented "a national challenge," and that Congress needed to "address these concerns."
While Social Security disability benefits can help in ensuring that disabled Americans are not living in total squalor, there is much that can be done to increase the availability of basic elements that can help them participate in mainstream society.