To commemorate the 25th anniversary of enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Census Bureau created a demographic snapshot of the U.S. population with a disability, and examined various services available to them.
The statistics provided in the report came from various Census Bureau surveys and data covering differing periods of time.
In 2010, 56.7 million individuals the United States reported having a disability, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation.
People with disabilities represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
A person with a disability, according to the ADA definition, may have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home or doing housework.
There were 25,899 businesses providing services for people with disabilities in the U.S. in 2012, according to the Economic Census Industry Series.
These companies employed 911,331 workers, generating $34.4 billion in revenues — a 7 percent increase since 2007.
Although a disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life, according to the American Community Survey, 28 percent of people with disabilities were 65 and older in 2014 and 39 percent of the population in this age group had at least one disability.
Of this group, two-thirds had difficulty in walking or climbing.
The second-most cited disability for those over 65 was difficulty with living independently, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.
According to the 2014 census data, New Mexico was ranked eighth in the country for households with one or more people 65 or older, and this population is increasing at a faster rate than the national average.
There is an increasing demand for in-home support services for both seniors and others with disabilities, according to Adrienne Smith, who heads the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition.
Smith said the coalition was organized because of the huge increase in the direct care workers who make up the fastest-growing set of occupations in New Mexico.
“There are 60,728 direct care workers and another 417,000 who serve as an unpaid family caregiver at any one time during the year,” she said.
The coalition supports caregivers by providing education and training and offers an opportunity to sit for a nationally recognized credential, Smith said.
But care recipients and their families need to obtain recommendations, references and background checks before employing a caregiver, she said.
“The profession is one characterized by low pay, $9.01 on average in New Mexico,” Smith said.
Consequently, according to Smith, these are workers who often must work multiple jobs just to make ends meet, leaving little time for training or professional development.
The marketing company Seniorcare.com, which provides a nationwide online directory by ZIP code at www.homehealthcareagencies.com, identified more than 26 agencies providing home care services within 41 miles of Santa Fe.
These companies provide anything from escorted transportation, to assistance with household chores, personal hygiene and pet care.
“We envision the day when the New Mexico caregiver is paid a living wage for a job with opportunities for growth, advancement and recognition for their valuable work with persons who are elderly and those with disabilities,” Smith said.
According to IRS Publication 926, even if you hire someone through an agency, you still need to make sure who is paying the employment taxes.
The worker is considered your employee if you can control their work and how it is done.
If so, under the IRS rules, you would have the obligation to withhold and to pay payroll taxes that apply to employers.
If the worker is self-employed, they will usually provide their own tools and offer services as an independent business or contractor and are responsible for their own taxes.
For more information, visit the IRS website, www.irs.gov/pub926.
Andy Winnegar has spent his career in rehabilitation and is based in Santa Fe as a training associate for the Southwest ADA Center, 800-949-4232. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.