Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they’re any less of a person. Most disabled individuals can still work jobs, get into Disabled Dating, have families, go places, etc. However, society has a tendency to discriminate against them and doesn’t offer disabled the same treatment as able-bodied individuals. Is basic income guilty of this too? That’s what we shall be discussing in this article.

The Universal Basic Income movement continues to pick up steam around the world, with reports that Finland is interested in starting its own UBI pilot program, joining a growing list of countries around the world. Still, many important questions surround the details of a basic income system.

One criticism raised even by some supporters is that many recent discussions of the UBI have overlooked the disabled and chronically ill. This is not the first case of discrimination against people with disabilities to affect the U.S financial system. While disabled people are always able to take out disability insurance from somewhere like https://www.leveragerx.com, there is no reason why they should be left out of the Universal Basic Income plan.

For example, in its groundbreaking UBI report the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) mentioned disability only to say specific benefits for the disabled were excluded from its model. This is something very important to the disabled community, many of whom click here to get information about their long-term options.

This silence has led some commentators to be skeptical of the UBI’s ability to accommodate the specific needs of disabled individuals. In an article recently published in the Independent, one critic worried that a basic income would either be too low to assist the disabled or too high to be affordable.

Critics are right to point out those who need special assistance are an important consideration when constructing a UBI scheme.

Fortunately, there are ways to integrate these concerns into UBI models while largely retaining the program’s simplicity.

For instance, an additional supplement for the disabled could be granted based on the severity of the disability. The current structure and eligibility requirements for disability insurance from the U.S. Social Service Administration could be utilized to determine the amount of additional aid.

There are three potential options for such a supplement:

  • Provide a simple cash transfer that will allow the individual to spend the money accordingly.
  • Provide a cash transfer to an account modeled on the Health Savings Account (HAS) structure. HSAs restrict account purchases to medicinal goods and services, but an individual can generally purchase these goods and services from any provider they see fit. This structure may capture the best of both worlds; it would prevent fraud given that those who are not truly disabled would be unlikely to apply for a supplement that is restricted to purchasing goods and services needed for disabled individuals, while also retaining account holders’ flexibility in choice of private providers.
  • Expand in-kind services that cater to disabled individuals. While specific in-kind services that should be expanded are beyond the scope of this article, it is almost certain that existing federal and state services for the disabled would not be altered if a UBI was implemented.

Regardless of which option is chosen, none of them make the UBI “utopian” as some critics have recently charged. By adapting existing governmental structures, policymakers can create a UBI while also making special accommodations for those citizens who do need additional supplements to the basic income. Such a system would still be much simpler than the existing structures of government assistance. In the United States, for instance, the vast majority of the current social services bureaucracy could be eliminated and replaced with a streamlined system that looks at only age and health/disability status to determine the size of the benefit. In fact, for those with invisible disabilities, a UBI would likely be a vast improvement to the current situation.

So far, critics have come up short in offering compelling reasons why accommodating those with special needs will drastically undermine the efficacy of UBI models. Nonetheless, they do raise an important concern, and the UBI movement must make room for discussion regarding how to integrate these needs into the basic income.

About Tyler Prochazka

Tyler Prochazka has written 93 articles.

Tyler Prochazka is a PhD student in Asia Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. He is the opinion editor of Basic Income News and the chairman of UBI Taiwan. Support my work with UBI Taiwan: https://www.patreon.com/typro Facebook.com/TaiwanUBI @typro