UNITED STATES (WTAJ) – Ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is introducing legislation to support people with disabilities when running for local government elected positions.

For many Americans with disabilities, certain barriers mean they are sidelined from running as local elected officials and participating in local government. The Removing Access Barriers to Running for Elected Office for People with Disabilities Act would ensure people with disabilities do not lose their crucial, life-sustaining federal disability benefits when they campaign for elected office.

The AID (Accessibility and Inclusion to Diversify) Local Government Leadership Act would provide local governments with limited budgets with funding to support accommodations for local elected officials with disabilities.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act enshrined civil rights for people with disabilities, but even on its 32nd anniversary, many are still marginalized. My legislation would support people with disabilities throughout civic life, by removing barriers they face as candidates and ensuring that when they become elected officials, they have the accommodations they need,” said Senator Casey. “As we celebrate the progress of the ADA, we must also recognize and recommit to the critical, ongoing work of updating our laws and policies so that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination across all aspects of public life.”

For low-income people with disabilities, the threat of benefit loss essentially eliminates their option to run for elected office. The Social Security Administration can consider unpaid campaigning as work and therefore may reduce or eliminate a person’s federal benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance.

The Removing Access Barriers to Running for Elected Office for People with Disabilities Act would clarify to federal agencies administering disability benefits that campaigning for an elected office does not disqualify a person from receiving disability benefits.

The AID Local Government Leadership Act would provide local governments with an ongoing accommodations fund to ensure current and future elected officials with disabilities have access to needed accommodations to perform their duties.

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Eligible communities include those that are rural communities, have a population of fewer than 10,000 people, or are communities with a population between 10,000 and 200,000 with a federal poverty rate of 18 percent or higher.