What issues are confronting the disabled in the 2020 presidential race?
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark legislation prohibiting discrimination based on disability.
Though much progress has been made since 1990, people with disabilities are still fighting for equal opportunity, economic security, and inclusion. Candidates for president are paying close attention, recognizing that the disability vote could make a substantial impact on the election.
People with disabilities are concerned about finding jobs and getting equal pay, affordable housing, and integrating into their communities.
Some candidates have weighed in on these issues on their websites, laying out specific plans to increase opportunities and support people with disabilities and their families. Candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden can also point to years as advocates for disability rights in their roles in the Senate and White House. Below we look at some key points and proposals set forth in the 2020 presidential campaign.
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Bernie Sanders promises to institute a disability policy focusing on accessibility, autonomy, inclusion and self-determination for all.
His plan includes:
- Creating a National Office of Disability Coordination which would be run by a person with a disability.
- Ending the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities
- Enforcing the Olmstead decision in which the Supreme Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) such services are appropriate; (2) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.
- Providing mandatory funding for serving students with disabilities
- Rejecting all proposals from states to place disability and aging services under the management of for-profit organizations
- Passing the Disability Integration Act (introduced in the Senate on 01/15/19) prohibiting government entities and insurance providers from denying community-based services to individuals with disabilities.
- Issuing an executive order instructing federal agencies to expand hiring of people with disabilities.
For more information see: https://berniesanders.com/issues/fighting-for-disability-rights/
Elizabeth Warren pledges to make disability rights a priority and fulfill the goals of the ADA: equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.
Warren’s plan also includes creating a National Office of Disability Coordination as well as other proposals:
- Minimum wage of $15 for all workers.
- Enforcing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act to protect disabled veterans from discrimination.
- National paid family and medical leave to care for family members as well as self.
- Create a position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to coordinate and expand the Bureau’s services to the disabled who are at increased risk of identity theft and fraud.
- Fully fund the Office of Disability Employment Policy and establish ODEP in law to support vocational rehabilitation and workforce training.
- Expand Social Security benefits for all Social Security and SSDI beneficiaries, including widowed individuals with disabilities and children of disabled parents who are full-time students.
- Fix the SSDI return-to-work benefit cliff.
- Protect the rights of incarcerated people with disabilities.
For more information, see: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/disability-rights-and-equality
Joe Biden believes all government policy should be developed with consideration for its impact on people with disabilities.
Below are some of the main points of his current plan:
- Protect the Affordable Care Act so no one will be denied healthcare coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
- Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which promised to provide 40% of the additional cost of special education, but currently only provides 15%.
- Reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
- Protect Medicare and Medicaid.
- Provide a tax credit of $5,000 to informal caregivers, such as an individual caring for a parent or other family member.
- Fund initiatives to partner mental health, substance abuse experts, social workers and disability advocates with police departments to train law enforcement how to respond to individuals with disabilities.
For more information, see: https://joebiden.com/disabilities.
Amy Klobuchar believes we must do more to help the disabled afford daily living expenses and live independently.
Here are some of the ideas in her Plan to Protect Equal Rights and Provide Opportunity for People with Disabilities.
- Expand access to assistive technologies the disabled need to engage in their communities.
- Expand access to quality home care and emergency hospital services in rural areas.
- Reduce the cost of prescription drugs, allowing for the importation of drugs from other countries.
- Expand the ABLE Act to people who develop a disability before age 46 (instead of age 26) to allow people to save more in an ABLE account.
- Expand the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration which offers training and employment assistance to the disabled.
- Expand employment opportunities by offering tax credits to employers who hire people with disabilities.
- Expand housing for people with disabilities and prohibit landlords from discrimi
- nating against renters with disabilities.
- Expand transit options for the disabled to include rural areas.
- Establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters focused on the needs of the disabled community.
Pete Buttigieg is committed to building a government that works for people with disabilities.
His plan includes ending the subminimum wage, providing an equity-based inclusive education and affordable healthcare. His goals as President include:
- Increase federal subcontracting with businesses owned by disabled people.
- Fully fund IDEA and make inclusive education a national expectation; ensure services for students with disabilities don’t end in high school.
- Improve ADA compliance by lowering barriers to understanding one’s rights and making it easier to report problems.
- Make sure parents with disabilities do not lose custody or adoption rights because they are disabled.
- Make the voting process and polling places accessible to everyone.
- Enable SSDI participants to receive benefits as soon as they are admitted to the program.
- Eliminate SSDI’s 24-month waiting period for Medicare coverage.
- Ensure affordable healthcare coverage through Medicare for All Who Want it.
For more information, see: https://peteforamerica.com/policies/access/
The 2020 presidential hopefuls share and support many of the same initiatives such as ending the subminimum wage, enforcing the Olmstead Act and the Rehabilitation Act, and increasing job opportunities.
This is only a small window into their plans and ideas to improve the lives of people with disabilities. What is clear is that the disabled vote will play an important role in the next election. “Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett, a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “People with disabilities are politically active voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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