|Izzie with her service dog, Zandra. Spinergy welcomed Zandra,|
who is able to retrieve things when Izzie drops them
The Trump administration wants to encourage more people with disabilities to work — both to meet the demands of a growing economy and to save the government money. The president's budget calls for savings of more than $47 billion in the disability program over the next decade.If nothing else, this reinforces the rubber nature of employments statistics. Bad times drive people who could work out of the work force, and eventually out of the job market, but good times long enough create enough incentive to get many of them back in. Thus employment numbers are slow to respond to both good and bad times, and are not a good measure of "real" unemployment.
One of Trump's economic advisers has long had a personal interest in the disability program.
"My dad was a steelworker, and when the plant closed down, he was out of work and in his late 50s," says Richard Burkhauser, a former professor at Cornell University who now serves on the Council of Economic Advisers.
Burkhauser encouraged his dad to apply for disability, rather than looking for another job. He later came to second-guess that advice. He suspects being out of work may have contributed to his father's death just a few years later. "Because his whole life was work, and I think it affected him," Burkhauser says. "As a last resort, I think it's fine to be on these rolls. But if we can get people with disabilities to get into the workforce, it would be much better."
Burkhauser says the hot economy has done more to move people off disability than any policy changes dreamed up in Washington. The drop in disability rolls has been so sharp, last month forecasters said the trust fund that helps pay those benefits will last 20 years longer than had been expected.
Izzie agrees that a tight job market is opening doors for people with disabilities. But she warns that many still face discrimination. If employers can overcome that, Izzie says, they will be rewarded with workers who are adaptable, flexible and persistent.
"The can-do attitude, the creativity involved in living life with a disability, honestly, that attitude is an asset to an employer," she says.
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