The Rand Corporation recently issued a report that indicates that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program could become bankrupt within four years. According to the report, the program is paying more money than it takes in and the funds could be depleted by 2016. In addition, the overall employment rate for workers with disabilities has fallen by a staggering 50 percent, despite legislation that is designed to protect such individuals in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act have become nearly meaningless in providing employment opportunities and job securities for people with disabilities.
Those individuals with disabilities who are forced out of the workforce will become welfare recipients and inevitably wards of the State, unless opportunities to return to the workforce are provided. According to Disability World, the trend continues to increase:
“The unemployment rate for people with disabilities climbed back above 14 percent during the first quarter of 2012 after dropping significantly at the end of 2011, according to a study by Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security disability representation and Medicare plan selection services.
“Income at Risk shows that people with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate nearly 74 percent higher than the rate for people with no disabilities for the first quarter of 2012. Allsup has been conducting this quarterly study since the first quarter of 2009.
… People with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate nearly 74 percent higher than the rate for people with no disability.”
The dichotomy exists that there is a population that wants to work but is rendered unemployed, and is now without protections that would allow them to survive while they seek employment.
It is clear that as long as we have such segments of the population who remain at economic risk there can be no comeback from the fiscal crisis of recent years. New Jersey, as well as the rest of the nation, may continue to engage in an economic collapse.
Unfortunately, any optimism that has been offered to the public by the Governor has been sadly misplaced.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a disability policy specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law.