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Why individuals with disabilities still face an uphill battle to finding employment 31 years after the ADA

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Achieve Vestal

(WBNG) -- As far as our society has come in the more than 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disability advocates stay we still have a long way to go.

A recent audit by the New York State Comptroller's Office found the state's Office of Mental Health failed to accurately advise individuals with disabilities of their benefits.

Because of this failure, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli judged the office contributed to rising unemployment rates; previous state analysis found the unemployment rate more than doubled for people with varying abilities as a result of the pandemic.

Locally, Achieve NY told 12 News Monday most of the individuals the group supports lost their jobs because of COVID, but there has been a sharp uptick in employment over the past few months.

When individuals with developmental disabilities or other varying abilities do find jobs, advocates say it's crucial benefits are properly explained.

"it's important to remember that for individuals who receive Social Security or other disability benefits, there's a possibility once those individuals… have paid employment, those benefits decrease," said Lisa Whitney, Achieve's Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to the findings of the audit, Whitney said the largest hurdle facing these individuals is the stigma surrounding their capabilities; she said the agency's workers are on-time, productive and highly capable individuals.

Monday is the 31st anniversary of the groundbreaking ADA; however, the state comptroller's office said census data shows individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.

Josh Rosenblatt

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