One of the voices outside Congress calling for Disability Insurance reform is Cornell Prof. Richard Burkhauser, who is also an adjunct scholar at AEI. In Roll Call, he writes:
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ratified 23 years ago last month, is based on what was then a radical idea: that the physical and social environment people with disabilities face is as much responsible for their inability to fully integrate into society as their health-based impairments. But despite the improvements mandated by the ADA, the employment rate of working-age Americans with disabilities (aged 16-64) hit an all-time low of 14.5 percent in March 2012 (latest number available) — by comparison, it was 28.6 percent in March 1990 and 18.7 percent in March 2007, just before the Great Recession.
Congress must recognize that this precipitous drop in employment is not the result of an increase in the severity of work limitations or of growing discrimination in our society. Rather, it is the unintended consequence of their failure to reform Social Security Disability Insurance — a program that discourages Americans with disabilities from working.
Nearly the half the increase in DI enrollment since the mid-1980s, he writes, “consists of individuals who, with different interventions and incentives, might have continued productive employment but are instead discouraged from working by the law of the land.”
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