Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Administrative Burdens Within Social Safety Net Make Accessibility Difficult for Low-Income and Disabled Americans
Press Release

RELEASE: Administrative Burdens Within Social Safety Net Make Accessibility Difficult for Low-Income and Disabled Americans

Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress analyzes how administrative burdens—aspects of programs that make it more difficult for someone to access or maintain assistance for which they otherwise qualify—are riddled throughout the social safety net, especially in programs designed for low-income and disabled Americans. Administrative burdens cause real, lasting harm to huge swaths of disabled Americans, making it difficult for them to navigate a system that is supposed to help them obtain basic necessities such as food, housing, and medical treatments. 

Administrative burdens—which can include lengthy and complicated paperwork, asset tests, inflexible in-person appointments, backlogs with long wait times, inaccessible and poorly designed websites, and complex and confusing application processes—often come in the form of:  

  • Learning costs: The complexity of these systems and a lack of public education and awareness about a program’s existence, eligibility, benefits, and rules as well as how best to navigate the entire process. 
  • Psychological costs: The health impacts of the stress, stigma, and lack of autonomy that come with navigating these programs’ administrative processes. 
  • Compliance costs: The time, energy, and money spent completing administrative requirements. These have also been referred to as the “time tax.” 

“This report explains how the United States’ complicated, onerous social safety net creates enormous, often dehumanizing, barriers to access for the low-income disabled individuals who these programs are meant to protect,” said Justin Schweitzerpolicy analyst for CAP’s Poverty to Prosperity Program and co-author of the report. “There are numerous actions that can be taken to improve applicant and participant experiences, but no single solution can fix all administrative burdens in the system. There must be a cultural shift from policymakers that works to take the burdens off participants and onto government.” 

Read the report: How Dehumanizing Administrative Burdens Harm Disabled People by Justin Schweitzer, Emily DiMatteo, Nick Buffie, and Mia Ives-Rublee

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Madia Coleman at [email protected].

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