Troubles With The ADA: Why Are People With Disabilities Struggling?

Six years ago, he was playing for a semipro football team in Tulsa—the Oklahoma Thunder—when he tried to make a tackle and broke his neck. Now this 27-year-old goes to school and works to eventually earn a Master’s in human relations, despite being paralyzed from the chest down. He is working hard to improve his life and future, but his biggest obstacles could be laws designed to help him succeed.

Troubles With The ADA: Why Are People With Disabilities Struggling?Photo of gavel and flag

In 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It was meant to help end job discrimination against people with disabilities, and it was supposed to make work environments more accessible for those people, but 25 years later, it hasn’t fulfilled that promise. Just over 28 percent of American adults with disabilities had jobs in 1990, but only 14 percent of American adults with disabilities were working in 2013. Some people blame this downward trend on the economy, while others say the ADA itself is responsible.

How Is The ADA Hurting People With Disabilities?

A Tulsa woman who is visually impaired blames the employment rate on the ADA. She believes that the law makes employers afraid to hire employees with disabilities because they are not sure if they have the accommodations required by the Act. This leaves employers open to being sued, but the ADA isn’t the only law making things harder for people with disabilities to support themselves.

Are Other Laws Hurting People With Disabilities?

Federal laws are preventing Social Security Disability beneficiaries from saving more than $2,000. It was a problem for the 27-year-old former athlete who is trying to better his life. He needed a van to get back and forth to school—the ride service he was using would often take too long—so he started collecting donations, but he couldn’t directly save the money he received. Clever thinking eventually allowed him to save the money, but barriers like these federal laws continue to hinder people with disabilities who want to earn more and rely less on disability benefits.

The recent passage of the ABLE Act is helping to improve the lives of people with disabilities by allowing them to save more than $2,000 and keep their government benefits. Plus the government is encouraging more employers to hire people with disabilities. Does this mean we’ll see a change in the effectiveness of the ADA? Keep following our blog and find out what the future holds for disability benefits in America.


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