Like the children and the elderly, persons living with disabilities (PWD) are considered members of the vulnerable population. Disabilities are generally referred to as mental, physical, intellectual, and sensory conditions that limit a person’s capacity to discern, move, and function properly.
As a state-recognized part of the vulnerable community, PWDs are protected in all countries, where specific laws dictate their rights, benefits, and opportunities. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the cornerstone legislation covering differently-abled persons. Let’s take a closer look at the basics and move on to discuss the benefits available to persons with disabilities.
In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures equal opportunities in the fields of employment, public accommodation, government services, as well as other privileges and benefits.
1. Equal Employment Opportunities
The federal government should offer job openings for PWDs in various career sectors. Additionally, the government should follow a non-competitive hiring process that’s faster and easier overall. However, the opportunity for a competitive hiring process is open to individuals with disabilities too.
Persons with disabilities are protected against discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment in the workplace settings, as stated in the Employment Discrimination Law.
2. Access to Educational Programs
The education department for each state should offer educational programs and financial aid for persons with disabilities.
For children with developmental disabilities, schools offer individualized programs. Developed by the children’s parents and teachers, this customized program is an important component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which also provides free public education to children. More mature students, especially those who are about to go to the university, maybe qualified for educational scholarships, grants, and loans.
3. Access to Caregiver Support
If you’re a caregiver for a child, parent, and spouse with special needs, you also have access to resources and training programs on providing appropriate care.
The federal government has caregiving resources for persons who take care of family members with severe disabilities caused by Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other issues. These resources also cover support for financial management for patients and stress relief for primary caregivers of PWDs, which may include war veterans.
The government may also provide payments for family members taking care of people with disabilities and war veterans through various programs.
4. Entitlement To A Disability Insurance
There are two government programs that persons with disabilities can avail of if they want financial assistance.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): PWDs who have become disabled after earning enough credits may avail of this type of insurance. SSDI can benefit your spouse or children as well.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is for elderly PWDs aged over 65 years are financially hard-up, and with little to no income. However, SSI is not a form of Social Security.
Click this page to know how you can increase your chances of availing the Social Security Disability benefits.
5. Health Insurance And Health Resources
There are three ways in which persons with disabilities can avail of the legally mandated health coverage:
- Medicaid covers free or low-cost medical benefits for PWDs
- Medicare covers differently-abled persons below 65 years old
- Affordable Care Act Marketplace has options for persons with disability who aren’t qualified for disability benefits
Federal, state, and local government agencies also have different programs to cover medical costs and other health needs of persons living with disabilities.
6. Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits
War veterans who incurred injuries and illnesses while on active duty are entitled to receive a tax-free monthly benefit under the VA disability compensation program. There are conditions to qualify, and in case of death, the family members of a veteran may be eligible in some cases.
Housing assistance and tax-free pensions are likewise offered for veterans who acquired either service-related or aging-related disabilities.
7. Voter Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
The law also ensures that persons who have disabilities can fully exercise their right to vote. Apart from the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Help America Vote Act also calls for polling places to have PWD-friendly structures such as wide entrances and doorways, wheelchair-accessible booths, and additional voting equipment for individuals who are visually impaired and legally blind. Some organizations offer free transport rides to the polling areas while in many states, persons with disabilities can just mail their votes.
Persons living with disabilities have special needs, and it’s up to the government and private sectors to make their lives easier. These legally mandated benefits aim to cover persons with disabilities from womb to tomb, and they should be accessible to all.