Disability And Poverty

My Column Printed in the Republican 9/28

The United States Census Bureau released data regarding the poverty level in our country this month. To be considered living in poverty a single person would have to be earning less than $11,139. Today, the poverty level is at its highest level in fifty-two years, with 46.2 million people living in poverty.

The 2010 census found that 9.5 percent of householders in the 18 to 64 age range have a disability, with a median income of $25,550. In comparison, non-disabled householders have a median income of $58,736. The census figures also indicate that 27.9 percent of disabled individuals are in poverty, compared with 12.5 percent of non-disabled individuals.

There are many contributing factors as to why people with disabilities are in poverty. One reason is that the portion of disabled individuals receiving Social Security have gone several years without an increase in their monthly benefit amount to reflect the higher cost of living.

Another problem with receiving Social Security payments is that often individuals have to deal with restrictions about how much they can earn while working. High unemployment rates greatly affect the chance that people with disabilities have in finding employment.

Budgets cuts happening and looming at both the national and state level will greatly affect programs that people with disabilities depend for many of their needs. Many of these programs are used for assistance with housing, medical care and employment. As a society we must come together to ensure each person in our country is living comfortably with basic needs being met. We all are equal and should be treated that way. No one should have to live in poverty.

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