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Briefing on Earnings Disparity for Workers with Disabilities

January 30, 2015

On January 22, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) held a congressional briefing session on the earnings disparity between workers with disabilities and nondisabled workers. Panelists discussed AIR’s recent report finding that workers with disabilities are paid an average of 37 percent less than workers without disabilities. This earnings disparity increases at higher levels of educational attainment. As the report noted, this earnings disparity can present an extra challenge for people with disabilities who must pay out-of-pocket for in-home supports, medical supplies, adaptive equipment or accessible vehicles. Panelists agreed that, in the face of high outof-pocket costs for supports and decreased earnings potential, many workers with disabilities may exit or limit participation in the workforce in order to maintain eligibility for Medicaid or Medicaid buy-in programs. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) also spoke at the event.