WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers want to understand how disability, including contracting long COVID, is impacting Americans’ financial lives. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.2 million more Americans identified as having a disability.
“As many as 7 million Americans are now dealing with long COVID and a lot of uncertainty about their future,” Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said.
Beatty blames the pandemic and worries about the potential for financial hardship.
“Employment opportunities, entrepreneurship, affordable and accessible housing and beyond,” Beatty said.
Health and Human Services say COVID has led to impairment that can sometimes make it difficult to work.
“For too long, the status quo has really failed the disability community,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said.
Pressley wants to remove the financial barriers she says her own constituents are facing because of long COVID.
“What barriers do they face as a result of long-term symptoms?” Pressley asked.
“Employers haven’t or won’t make certain adjustments requested or because some individuals may not be able to continue their positions due to their illness,” Century Foundation Fellow, Vilissa Thompson, said.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) said it’s an example of the wide-ranging financial challenges the disabled often face.
“There’s some folks in this world who can snap their fingers and acquire capital at almost zero rates at unbelievable terms, and then there’s other who struggle to access even one cent,” Gonzalez said.
Lawmakers agree cooperation with the private sector could help secure jobs for those with disabilities and help bridge the economic gap.