America’s aging population means increasing numbers of citizens will have disabilities, said one of the nation’s leading disability rights advocates at the NSSTA Fall Regional. He also outlined ways in which structured settlements could work in tandem with federal government benefits programs to protect the long-term financial security of injury victims and dependents.
“Our movement is about economic security and that’s one of the reasons I like working with the structured settlement industry,” said Andrew J. Imparato, president of American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), shown here with NSSTA president Henry Strong. “AAPD is completely focused on creating and building alliances to promote legislation in a bipartisan way.”
“At its core, structured settlements are about economic security. We need to expand the thinking of the structured settlement model and incorporate that into new areas of public policy.”
Imparato noted that the collective budget for federal benefits programs is predicted to rise from roughly $300 billion today to $1.2 trillion by the year 2020. Therefore, he argued, rules on outside income need to be changed to reduce disincentives to work. That will help facilitate the transition of those with disabilities into productive jobs.
For example, he said, many federal programs basically require people to swear they can’t work as a condition of receiving benefits. Therefore, any effort to seek employment will jeopardize the benefits. AAPD suggests modifying the current language so that beneficiaries must swear to “barriers to employment.”
“When people go on SSI before age 18, the average length on SSI is 27 years,” he said. “When you focus on reducing the barriers, you help people become more productive.”
Other suggestions involved doubling the budget for vocational rehabilitation and revising the Medicare/Medicaid systems to allow for individual “flexible accounts” that take into account the financial needs of working-age people with disabilities who go back to work.
The National Structured Settlements Trade Association is an organization of more than 600 licensed insurance brokers, insurance companies and other members who are involved in establishing structured settlements to resolve personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.