Many people underestimate the economic challenges of disability, a Nobel prize-winning economist told a group at the World Bank in early December.
Economist Amartya Sen told the group that "conceptual confusion" has contributed to insufficient attention being paid to disability and its correlation with poverty, according to Financial Times reporter Andrew Balls. So although disabled people might find it harder to find well-paying jobs, in what Mr Sen called an "earning handicap", they may also require higher levels of income.
This is because of a "conversion handicap" - or the assistance that disabled people may need to achieve everyday tasks, such as mobility or allowing children to attend school.
"Poverty statistics tend to look at poverty as if able-bodied and disabled people can do the same things with the same amount of money," said Mr Sen. "The earnings handicap is far exceeded by the conversion handicap, not just for the individual involved but for families where there is a disabled person."
The full story appeared in the Financial Times of December 2, 2004, under the headline: Donors urged to focus more on disability in allocating aid budgets.
Comment: People in Congress who set the Social Security disability benefit, and delay the effective date of Medicare coverage for Disability Insurance beneficiaries until twenty four months after start of cash benefits, should give more consideration to this reality.
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