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President wants more pay for disability care givers

Across New York, many in-home care givers are essential to allowing individuals living with disabilities retain a sense of independence. Without such aid, some individuals with disabilities would be unable to completely care for themselves, and would subsequently need to move into a nursing home.

President Obama says of in-home care givers across the country, “They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded.” The administration would like to revise the Fair Labor Standards Act so that a provision that allows some of these care givers to receive less than minimum wage and no overtime pay would be changed under federal law.

In New York, companions and caregivers already receive at least minimum wage and some overtime pay, but this is not the case in the majority of states. The average yearly earning of these care givers that are crucial to the independence of individuals with disabilities is estimated to be $21,830. However, some worry that attempting to bolster this number could in fact drive net pay down because employers would cut back on hours to avoid overtime pay expenses.

Some worry that this could lead to higher employment turnover rates in this field, and a diminished quality of care for clients with a disability. However, many refute such fears, saying that in states like New York where these benefits are already extended, turnover rates are not impacted.

A member of an advocacy group for in-home care givers says evidence shows that affording minimum wage and overtime pay to such workers is “not causing more people with long-term care needs to have to get their care in nursing homes rather than at home.”

At the end of the day, it is critical that individuals with disabilities receive the highest quality of assistance -- be that living assistance or legal assistance. It has not yet been decided if more states will adopt an approach similar to New York in compensating in-home care givers for individuals with disabilities that are unable to work or completely care for themselves.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Debate Persist Over Pay For Disability Care Givers,” Alvin Tran, May 9, 2013

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