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Parity In Advocacy

In support of our mission to provide public awareness and advocacy for people with psychiatric and/or developmental disabilities so that they can achieve equal opportunities in all aspects of life, People With Disabilities Foundation is actively working to provide equal access to advocacy for those with psychiatric and/or developmental disabilities. We continue to consider the best ways to advocate for those whose disabilities cannot be measured through psychometric testing, as this issue potentially affects millions of people.*

A plaintiff with a psychiatric and/or developmental disability may have more difficulties pursuing discrimination litigation. This may be due to a vulnerable mental state or because of the difficulty in establishing the medical evidence to be a qualified individual with a disability (QID) and therefore afforded the protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Nevertheless, we do not accept this as a rationale for neglecting discrimination claims.

We call on our colleagues in the advocacy community to join us in finding solutions to this issue and look forward to working together towards parity in advocacy. See the following links for more information. If you are interested in this topic, please submit your comments in the comment box below.

PWDF Hosts Live Stream Online Workshop: Disability Discrimination Lawsuits: Ensuring Equal Access to Advocacy for Clients with Mental and/or Developmental Disabilities

PWDF Presents Continuing Legal Education on Parity in Advocacy in Disability Discrimination Lawsuits

PWDF Issues Only (Nationwide) Comments Addressing People with Mental and/or Developmental Disabilities in Response to SSA’s Proposed Section 504 Plan

Do Disability Rights Advocates Discriminate on the Basis of Mental Disability? (Part 2 from 2014)

Do Disability Rights Advocates Discriminate on the Basis of Mental Disability? (Part 1 from 2008)

Parity in Advocacy: Overcoming Barriers to Legal Representation is Long Overdue

Unequal Rights Within the Disability Rights Community for Individuals with Mental and/or Developmental Disabilities

*Over 5 million people between the ages of 18 – 64 received Social Security disability benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits based on mental disorders in 2012.[1]  This does not include people who are receiving retirement, blind, or other benefits.  For example, people receiving retirement benefits may also have mental disorders, e.g., Alzheimer’s Disease or vascular dementia, but they are not included in this count.  Because of the invisible nature of mental disorders, SSA statistics also may not include people who have a mental disability in addition to a physical disability, where the mental disability is not “coded” into the Social Security system.  When including these beneficiaries, children, and people age 65 and older, PWDF estimates that 8-10 million people who receive Social Security benefits have a mental and/or developmental disability.

[1] US Social Security Administration, “Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2012.”


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