disabled

Scottsdale is the second best city in the nation for people with disabilities, according to a study of 182 American cities by the financial website wallethub.com

Wallethub said it commissioned the survey because October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month “and  the average monthly Social Security disability benefit at only $1,151.79, barely enough to keep an individual out of poverty.”

Analyzing 34 key indicators, the survey put only Overland Park, Kansas above Scottsdale. Also in the top five nationally were, in order, St. Louis, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Denver, Colorado.

The worst was Gulfport, Mississippi, while other cities in the bottom five were New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut; Tallahassee, Florida; and Providence, Rhode Island.

Among Arizona cities, Scottsdale was far and away the best place for people with disabilities over most cities. The next best was Tucson at Number 10, followed by Chandler (16), Tempe (17), Gilbert (30), Peoria (44), Mesa (60), and Phoenix (86).

“In the overall ranking below, readers who are particularly interested in the best places to live on disability income should focus on the ‘economy’ category,” wallethub said. “Likewise, those who place a higher premium on quality of medical care should focus on the ‘health care’ category.

In those two categories, Scottsdale ranked sixth for economy and 25th for health care. Virginia Beach, Virginia scored the best in the economy category and St. Paul, Minnesota ranked tops in health care.

But no Arizona city beat out Scottsdale in either of those categories, the survey showed.

The ranking for economy was based on 11 data sets, including housing affordability, cost of living and the employment rate and media earnings for people with disabilities.

Dr. Jean P. Hall, director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies at the University of Kansas, asked in a recent study: 

"What are the unique financial challenges faced by people with disabilities, particularly those who rely on government assistance? How can these challenges be overcome?"

A study by the National Disability Institute “found that the extra costs for a family with a member living with a disability, such as greater health care costs, accessible transportation, accessibility features in the home, personal assistance services, equipment costs, etc., would require, on average, 28 percent more income to break even with families that do not include a person with a disability. 

“These extra costs are not accounted for in eligibility for assistance programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, or health insurance subsidies, putting people with disabilities at a disadvantage,” Hall said.

Experts quoted in the wallethub report said the Americans with Disability Act, passed nearly three decades ago, doesn’t do much to help people with disabilities.

“One of the biggest challenges of the ADA is that it has no teeth. If something is non-compliant, it is up to the disabled person to find a lawyer and sue (same with if someone is fired or not hired due to their disability), which already makes it nigh on impossible,” said Dr. Shanna K. Kattari, a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. 

However, Dr. Matthew Bogenschutz, associate professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work, stressed, “The ADA remains very important.”

“Although ADA remains a very good policy,” he added, “it might benefit from updates to more directly address accessibility and accommodations in remote work/educational arrangements, in the sharing economy, and accessibility of digital content, which can all still be hit or miss.”