In the United States, 37.2 million Americans have some type of disabling condition. Unfortunately, as baby boomers age, the number of Americans who are impaired or disabled is likely only to grow. Disabled individuals not only make up a large portion of the U.S. population, but an estimated 15 percent of people worldwide live with some type of physical or cognitive disability.
Unfortunately, our social security disability lawyers in Boston know that many of the millions of disabled individuals are not getting the assistance they need. The failure to provide services for the disabled extends not just to challenges the disabled face in qualifying for benefits or income assistance, but also to other areas such as employment opportunities, education and even aid during disasters.
The Disabled Face Worldwide Struggles In Getting Necessary Help
CNN recently did an in-depth report into the plight of disabled individuals, both in developing countries that cannot afford to provide proper care and inclusion as well as in the United States where the country could afford to provide for the disabled if doing so became an important policy goal.
One problem that CNN highlighted is that there are insufficient provisions in place when disasters strike to provide needed protection to the disabled. Examples include the 2010 earthquake in Haiti where deaf victims became trapped under rubble after they were unable to hear the earthquake, as well as the disabled individuals who were wheelchair bound and thus unable to board evacuation buses or get into temporary housing without ramps after the tsunami in Japan.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to provide protections to the disabled and to ensure that the disabled are given equal treatment as those who are not disabled. Despite the ADA, however, the disabled continue to have problems in the United States. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, people who had physical disabilities or cognitive disabilities had trouble getting transportation, were not as readily able to evacuate and had difficulty finding rescue or temporary housing that could accommodate their needs.
Disaster preparedness for the disabled is a pressing concern because lives could be immediately at risk. Unfortunately, the lack of help provided to the disabled doesn’t just extend to making sure they are protected in the event of a natural disaster. The disabled are also lacking in crisis services and in meaningful access to education and employment opportunities today. While the short-term impact of this may not be as dramatic as the immediate devastation disabled people experience when they get no help in a disaster, the impact of depriving access and benefits to disabled workers is also likely to have serious, lasting adverse consequences.
CNN indicates that the United States has a “global imperative to address the needs of the disabled today — especially in difficulty fiscal times.” Disabled people are largely excluded from the workplace both in the U.S. and in developing countries. In most developed countries, between 50 and 70 percent of the disabled are unemployed, while things are worse in developing countries things are even worse with as many as 80-90 percent of disabled individuals unemployed. The cost of economic losses is around $1.4 trillion in gross domestic product because of the exclusion of the disabled from the workplace.
Clearly, fundamental changes need to be made in the way we help the disabled. One good first step might be making it easier and less cumbersome for the truly disabled to apply for Social Security benefits. Taking this step could provide some measure of financial security, which the SSA benefits program is supposed to provide but often doesn’t because more than half of all applicants are denied benefits. The SSA program is just one of many examples of ways in which the disabled may have a hard time getting the help they need and the benefits they deserve.
If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Government Shutdown and SSDI, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog, October 10, 2013.