Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Compromise Legislation Leaves Disabled People Behind, Lawmakers Must Step Up in Next Deal
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Congress’ first three coronavirus response packages offered few provisions to meet the needs of the 61 million disabled people living in the United States, essentially ignoring one of the country’s most vulnerable populations in terms of health and finances.

A new analysis by Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, looks at the failings of the first three packages and provides a list of policy recommendations for meaningful reforms that need to be included in a fourth package:

  • Paid family and medical leave: Policies should be broadened to include paid leave for families of disabled adults who have lost personal care attendants due to social-distancing requirements.
  • Raising and eliminating asset limits: Unless changes are made to current policies, a cash benefit provided to all could endanger the ability of people with disabilities to access life-sustaining programs, including Supplemental Security Income and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • Support for the direct care workforce and home- and community-based services: As hospitals and medical facilities continue to be overrun by patients with COVID-19, more funding is needed to support the direct care assistants and community-based organizations on which people with disabilities.
  • Elimination of increased continuing disability reviews (CDRs): The Trump administration recently agreed to temporarily suspend CDRs, which force permanently disabled people to repeatedly prove that they are disabled, but this change should be made permanent.
  • Elimination of  Medicaid work requirements: In the midst of a dual public health and unemployment crisis, disabled people should not have to prove they are working in order to access health care.
  • Enactment of the Defense Production Act: There is a dangerous shortage of personal protective equipment for disabled people and those who care for them. President Donald Trump should immediately enact the Defense Production Act to increase the supply.
  • Accessible voting options: Congress should provide funding for a variety of accessible voting options, including same-day registration, early voting, and on-site voting.
  • Civil rights enforcement: Education and workforce protections for people with disabilities must be upheld.

“Disabled people are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus in terms of both health and finances, ” said Cokley. “Yet, despite the fact that one-third of U.S. households are home to people with disabilities, we have been completely ignored by Congress’ coronavirus response bills. It’s imperative that Congress turn its attention to the disability community in its fourth response package—both to save lives and preserve civil rights.”

Read: “Coronavirus Proposals Leave the Disability Community Behind” by Rebecca Cokley

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.