Category Archives: Americans With Disabilities Act

Theme: Americans with Disabilities Act

Source: JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 313 no. 22, June 9, 2015
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Articles include:
The ADA and the Supreme Court: A Mixed Record
Samuel R. Bagenstos

Innovations of the Americans With Disabilities Act: Confronting Disability Discrimination in Employment
Mark A. Rothstein

The Promise of the Americans With Disabilities Act for People With Mental Illness
Ira Burnim

Why the Americans With Disabilities Act Matters for Genetics
Ellen Wright Clayton

The Americans With Disabilities Act at 25: The Highest Expression of American Values
Lawrence O. Gostin

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program

Source: Mark Duggan, Melissa S. Kearney, Stephanie Rennane, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w21209, May 2015
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From the abstract:
The SSI program provides cash assistance to some of the nation’s most vulnerable elderly, blind, and disabled residents. In this paper, we briefly summarize the history of the SSI program and present descriptive evidence on caseload composition and trends. We discuss relevant conceptual issues and empirical evidence focused on four key issues. First, we describe the advantages and disadvantages of categorical eligibility requirements and we show that the SSI caseload has become increasingly comprised of difficult-to-verify conditions, namely pain and mental disabilities. Second, we describe systematic disincentives to accumulate earnings and assets inherent in the SSI program design, but emphasize that the more relevant set of questions for the SSI population are related to the full disability requirement for eligibility. Third, we describe the questions and research about long-term benefits and costs to program participants, in terms of whether the program adequately and appropriately serves the needs of disabled individuals and their family members. And fourth, we present information and evidence about program spillovers, both across programs and across federal and state levels of government. Throughout the paper we make numerous explicit references to areas where further study is warranted and open research questions remain. SSI is an important part of the U.S. safety net, but particular features of the program raise questions about whether there is a more effective way to provide income support for individuals with work-limiting disabilities and families with disabled the children. Our goal for this paper is to systematically present the issues for scholars and policy-makers to consider and explore.

Mental Health in the Workplace: How We Can Move Beyond the Stigma

Source: Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton, Management, May 28, 2015

In the great order of things in the American workplace, many a stigma has fallen. Mental illness, though, has notably lagged — retaining its air of misunderstanding. …. But the social dynamics around mental illness may be changing. A combination of factors have come together in recent years — including the Americans with Disabilities Act — to lead many to believe that the stigma is finally fading, perhaps even in the workplace. ….

A state-by-state look at students referred to law enforcement

Source: Chris Zubak-Skees, Ben Wieder, Center for Public Integrity, April 10, 2015

U.S. Department of Education data shows that in most states black, Latino and special-needs (disabled) students get referred to police and courts disproportionately. The volume of referrals from schools is fueling arguments that zero tolerance policies and school policing are creating a “school-to-prison pipeline” by criminalizing behavior better dealt with outside courts. The Center for Public Integrity ranked states by their rate of referral for every 1,000 students. Hover or tap each demographic bar to get the percent of a group’s enrollment compared to the percent of referred students who belong to that group.

Cutting Social Security Disability Insurance Won’t Help Anyone Go Back to Work

Source: Rebecca Vallas, Center for American Progress, April 14, 2015

Policymakers and elected officials on both sides of the aisle have long shared the goal of helping people with disabilities work. However, recent proposals to cut Social Security Disability Insurance for beneficiaries who attempt to return to work represent a step in the wrong direction that would undermine this bipartisan objective…. To achieve its stated goal of ensuring that workers with disabilities—including those receiving Disability Insurance—have a fair shot at gainful employment and economic security, Congress should focus on enacting policies that remove barriers to employment, not add to them. Here are three reasons why Congress should reject these proposed cuts:
1. Policies should support, not discourage, Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries in returning to work. ….
2. Current benefits are modest but vital, and cuts would push more workers with disabilities into poverty ….
3. Unemployment insurance should be there for all workers who earn it, including those with disabilities ….

Disability insurance plans: trends in employee access and employer costs

Source: Kristen Monaco, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Beyond the Numbers, Pay & Benefits, Vol. 4 No. 4, February 2015

From the summary:
Short- and long-term disability insurance programs replace some of the wages lost by people who cannot work because of a disabling injury or illness that is not work-related. Short-term disability insurance typically covers periods lasting less than 6 months, and long-term disability insurance lasts for the length of the disability or until retirement.

Those workers who are unable to work due to injury or illness and who do not have disability insurance coverage through their employers may seek benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The number of SSDI claimants has grown over the past decade as younger workers and those in relatively low-skill, low-pay jobs have applied for benefits. This has prompted interest in the amount of coverage for workers in employer-provided disability insurance programs. This issue of Beyond the Numbers examines trends in employer-provided disability insurance coverage over time, explains the basic terms of coverage for typical plans, and estimates the costs to private employers.

Notes On: Making Room for Fido at Work: Animals in the workplace as Reasonable Accommodations

Source: James Kizziar and Amber Dodds, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 65 no. 4, Winter 2014
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Matthew is a pretty good employee, with the exception of a few emotional outbursts in his tenure. You have disciplined him for yelling at work a couple of times but he performs his job duties well. Recently, another employee told you that Matthew has been bringing his dog to work and hiding it under his desk. Although the other employee does nor mind, she mentioned that the dog is usually unleashed and once peed in the office (which Matthew promptly cleaned up). When you approach Matthew about not bringing his dog to the office, he responds “I have a service animal card, so I can bring him to the office.” Should or must Matthew be allowed to bring his dog to the office?

This situation is becoming more and more common as animals, usually dogs, are used as therapy companions for an increasing variety of medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, adjustment disorder, and anxiety. Employers should interpret requests by employees to bring animals to work as reasonable accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and engage in the interactive process to determine whether the accommodation may be granted or denied. ….

The Social Security Disability Insurance Program

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, Vol. 46 no. 4, July/August 2014
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From the abstract:
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was added to Social Security in the 1950s and has grown into a large and complex institution in its own right that interacts with several other government and employer-provided benefit programs. It provides income replacement to the 8.9 million disabled workers and their families. SSDI is currently funded by a 1.8% Federal Insurance Contributions Act payroll tax on earned income up to $117,000 per year (indexed). That has not been enough, and the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund will be depleted in 2016. There are indications that the solution is at hand. A proposal within the Office of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration would shunt money from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance to the DI trust funds, thus postponing the “day of reckoning” for the combined Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance trust funds to 2033. It is imperative that Congress address this problem soon. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation: A Remote Possibility?

Source: Dean A. Rocco, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 3, Winter 2014
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This article addresses the issue of telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation. The author points out that employers that genuinely place an emphasis on employees working at the office or job site can expect to find support from the courts when they deny such requests. However, these employers must be prepared to explain legitimate business justifications for their position on telecommuting and ensure their policies and past practices are consistent with that position.