One of the key themes that dominated President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address was the need to reduce income inequality. Although a gap between rich and poor is nothing new, the growth of this gap is cause for concern among many people. This year, President Obama called for a year of action to make critical improvements.
According to information from Emmanuel Saez, a University of California economist, the highest earners in the United States saw a 31 percent increase in income over the 2009-2012 period. The rest of the country saw less than a one percent increase in their income levels.
Among the most vulnerable groups feeling the brunt of this income inequality are single mothers, post-9/11 veterans, the elderly, college graduates, and Social Security disability recipients.
From our Social Security disability law firm in Massachusetts, we take particular notice of people—such as our clients—suffering from the income gap. In 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10.8 percent of people living with a severe disability had experienced persistent poverty.
According to executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, Deborah Weinstein, employers often take the easy way out and hire someone without disabilities. However, a 2010 Job Accommodation Network study found that over 50 percent of on-site accommodations for people with disabilities cost nothing. Another study by the United Nations found that employers can benefit by hiring people with disabilities, because retention rates are much higher.
As lawyers who represent Social Security disability recipients, it is our hope that more employers can see the benefit in hiring someone with disabilities to reduce the income gap and help more people find jobs suited to their abilities.