When compared with countries around the world, most would argue that America scores high in terms of its handling of disability issues. Of course some cities and states rank better than others, but thanks to legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are guaranteed certain rights, protections, and access in this country.
But how do we stack up to the rest of the world? This is a matter of utmost importance, as the United Nations reports that an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population (about 1 billion people) are living with disabilities. Let’s have a look at how some other countries rate on disability benefits and other related issues.
Disability Issues and Benefits Abroad
France – Disability benefits are based on your average salary over a 10-year period. If you can work at least part time, the rate is based on 30 percent of your average salary over 10 years. Those unable to work are eligible for a rate of 50 percent.
There are also housing benefits available, as well as support for parents caring for a disabled child—including help with education and paying for a caregiver.
Companies with more than 20 staff members are required to have at least 6 percent of their workforce comprised of people with disabilities.
Germany – Those who are unable to work more than three hours per day can claim a disability pension if they have contributed to social security for at least five years. People with a disability can also receive health care at no extra cost as long as they’ve been paying into the system, and they are also eligible for special employment protection.
Children with a disability are covered under Germany’s health insurance.
Other measures to assist people with disabilities include:
- Incentivizing companies to employ people with disabilities;
- Offering housing benefits and home modification to accommodate a person’s needs;
- Free public transport; and
- Home care assistance.
Russia – Russians with disabilities have many obstacles to overcome. In addition to overcoming the logistics of Russia’s notorious winters and infrastructure, other difficulties include workplace discrimination, lack of access/accommodation, and low payouts for those out of work. Russia has laws protecting people with disabilities in place, but actually enforcing those laws and taking action is what really counts.
Ghana – Ghana came under fire recently after British journalist Sophie Morgan traveled to the country and discovered people with disabilities living in horrendous conditions there. While this disturbing report does not offer the full picture of Ghana’s handling of disability issues, they clearly do have a long way to go.
Italy – In 2015, Italians with a disability were eligible to receive the equivalent of just about $300 a month. They can also get tax breaks to buy things like disability-friendly vehicles and home accommodations, though it has been noted that Italians with disabilities have a high rate of poverty.
(For more information and details on these countries and more, The Guardian compiled a useful article here.)
A World of Difference
Compared to America, wealthy European nations (and Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark) tend to have more generous disability benefits and larger social safety nets in general. Though in terms of the rest of the world, America is not too shabby when it comes to disability issues.
In addition to the civil rights guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are scores of charities dedicated to helping those in need and providing resources, as well as widespread, reasonable accommodation. Yet like most countries, America’s record on disability issues and benefits provided is a mixed, ever-evolving bag.
Regardless of country or residence, we can all agree that people with disabilities deserve equality, access to education and jobs, safety, and the freedom to prosper.
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