January was Poverty Awareness Month. Nearly 1 in 3 individuals with disabilities are living in poverty, which is twice the rate for individuals without disabilities.
A clip from a Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, went viral climbing to the most-viewed lists on a number of websites, including the Washington Post. In the clip, a woman suffering from disability-induced poverty tearfully describes her plight:
“It’s so hard to do anything to pay your bills, you’re ashamed all the time…when you can’t buy presents for your children it’s really really really hard – and I work 3, 4, 5 jobs sometimes, always minimum wage, I have a degree, divorced and it’s just I’m waiting for disability to come through so my parents have to support me – it’s just hard.”
Despite general improvements in the economy, people with disabilities feel that they haven’t benefited from the gains — and that many of the gains have instead gone to wealthier Americans. On top of that, there are Presidential candidates, as well as members of Congress, who are openly advocating for cutting the benefits that lower-income people rely on to make ends meet.
Although they don’t get much play in mainstream poverty discussions, individuals who are experiencing the effects of a disability are a huge part of the poverty landscape in America. Finding ways to increase the incomes of people with a disability (whether through market or transfer income) is an indispensable part of any serious anti-poverty strategy. #zerobarriers