Though declared legal for homosexual couples in 2015 by Obergefell v. Hodges, there are still issues with marriage equality that we need to address. One of these is the rights of people with disabilities and their ability to keep their benefits after marriage. Today, my article addresses how the U.S. government defines disability and then examine what problems the system poses.
The Federal Government defines disability under Title XVI as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s).” Furthermore, medically determined impairments must last more than one year and’ or could result in death. Finally, the impairment typically results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable diagnostic techniques.
How Does One Obtain Disability?
State agencies or (DDS) are usually responsible for developing medical evidence and they make the initial determination about whether the claimant is or is not disabled or blind under the law.
Usually, the DDS obtains evidence from the claimant’s own medical sources first. When the evidence is unavailable or insufficient to decide, the DDS may arrange a consultative examination (CE) to obtain additional evidence. The individual’s own medical source(s) is the preferred source for the CE; however, the DDS may also obtain the CE from an independent source.
After completing its development, the DDS makes the disability determination. An adjudicative team consisting of a medical or psychological consultant and a disability examiner usually makes the determination. If the adjudicative team finds that additional evidence needed, the consultant or examiner may recontact a medical source and ask for additional information.
The DDS returns the case to the field office after making a disability determination. The field office takes appropriate action depending on whether they denied or permitted the claim.
What Is Disability Used For?
In some cases, disability pays for the home healthcare program. This involves paying for personal care attendants coming into the home to help do daily tasks like getting out of bed, brushing teeth, and taking medication. Other people rely on their benefits because they either cannot work, or need extra income to supplement their disability. These programs ensure that people with disabilities can maintain their basic needs such as eating, paying for rent, and even purchasing additional medical supplies not covered by insurance.
What Is the Current Problem?
The issue of penalization is complex. It can affect people with a wide variety of disabilities. But it does not affect every person with a disability, as enforcement varies from state to state.
Heavily intertwined with eugenics, the movement not only sterilized people against their will but also prohibited them from marrying. States such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota, and Michigan, prevented people with intellectual disabilities, mental disabilities, and epilepsy from marrying through a series of laws passed in the early 20th century. Other states used legislation prohibiting anyone they considered to have a “genetic defect” from marrying. To this day, while in some instances the law remains, unenforced; most of these laws have never been repealed.
Furthermore, when a person with a disability gets married, the government expects them the responsibility of their partner.
Why Is This Important?
Marriage offers many benefits that are not available to single individuals. One of the most important is having your partner with you at the hospital. Denied to certain people with disabilities, even when a partner has power of attorney, or there is a living will. Marriage universally protects couples and families, and they deserve the right to have those protections
Furthermore, even if the laws remain unenforced, they perpetuate an ableist ideology in our system of government that need not be present. Therefore, we still need to repeal them if we are to discontinue this mindset and teach our children that all people, regardless of ability, deserve happiness and love.