2015’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities
When searching for a new city to call home, most people share a common list of priorities — affordability, jobs, schools and attractions among them. But people with disabilities often have a larger list of considerations. Factors such as the accessibility of various facilities, the quality of health care and even the cleanliness of the air can take precedence over others. The availability of such elements allows them to play an important role in the community and make significant contributions to the economy.
In the U.S., people with disabilities bring valuable skill sets to the workplace that build upon the strength and diversity of the American labor market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly five million people with disabilities were employed in 2014. However, the unemployment rate for those with a disability continues to be almost double the rate for persons without one.
To help ease the process of finding a new place to call home while managing a disability, WalletHub compared the 150 most populated cities across 21 key metrics, ranging from the number of physicians per capita to the rate of employed people with disabilities to park accessibility. Our findings, additional expert commentary and a detailed methodology can be found below.
‘Economic Environment’ Rank
‘Quality of Life’ Rank
‘Health Care’ Rank
|1||Overland Park, KS||28||74||1|
|5||St. Petersburg, FL||21||53||11|
|6||Huntington Beach, CA||15||84||12|
|7||Oklahoma City, OK||31||79||3|
|10||Santa Clarita, CA||11||111||17|
|13||San Jose, CA||42||66||5|
|T-15||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||7||81||69|
|17||Grand Prairie, TX||1||106||130|
|18||Colorado Springs, CO||43||22||42|
|19||Corpus Christi, TX||5||114||83|
|25||Virginia Beach, VA||3||138||87|
|34||El Paso, TX||39||54||74|
|35||Little Rock, AR||27||137||27|
|37||San Francisco, CA||89||27||34|
|T-39||Kansas City, MO||79||43||37|
|48||Des Moines, IA||74||134||8|
|55||Fort Worth, TX||33||77||114|
|58||Long Beach, CA||96||38||44|
|59||Baton Rouge, LA||56||17||137|
|61||Port St. Lucie, FL||30||121||100|
|62||Salt Lake City, UT||82||49||72|
|66||Pembroke Pines, FL||63||148||13|
|69||New Orleans, LA||115||18||46|
|73||Sioux Falls, SD||90||88||39|
|74||Newport News, VA||70||65||102|
|75||St. Paul, MN||142||30||4|
|82||San Diego, CA||62||98||106|
|84||Garden Grove, CA||114||50||29|
|88||Fort Lauderdale, FL||108||73||31|
|92||San Antonio, TX||69||125||81|
|94||North Las Vegas, NV||19||104||145|
|95||Los Angeles, CA||117||36||77|
|96||Santa Ana, CA||106||57||81|
|97||St. Louis, MO||140||11||36|
|T-101||Las Vegas, NV||48||48||144|
|111||Fort Wayne, IN||50||147||100|
|112||Cape Coral, FL||84||128||91|
|120||Chula Vista, CA||97||116||90|
|122||Santa Rosa, CA||76||105||141|
|130||New York, NY||102||5||147|
|136||Grand Rapids, MI||124||132||67|
|147||Moreno Valley, CA||139||96||139|
|148||San Bernardino, CA||146||52||135|
|149||Jersey City, NJ||134||42||150|
Ask The Experts
Living with a disability can be both financially and physically burdensome. We asked a panel of experts to share their insight and advice on ways to manage and reduce a disability’s impact on one’s life. Click the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:
- What money-saving tips can you offer persons with disabilities living on a budget?
- What are some unique financial challenges faced by people with disabilities? How can they be overcome?
- What local policies and programs have proven effective in increasing inclusion and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities?
Being a person with a disability and on a limited income, the first thing is to contact your local energy company. Many offer monthly cost averaging which will save you money and they also will give you a discount because of your limited income. Secondly, contact your state department of disability. Many states have programs which will assist you with your premiums and or have special programs because of your low income. A person with a documented disability can withdraw from a pension account with the 10% penalty.
What are some unique financial challenges faced by people with disabilities? How can they be overcome?
How can they be overcome? One of the biggest financial challenge for a person with a disability is their reduction in their overall income. For a person who becomes disabled and does not have disability income insurance, becoming disabled could be devastating. There may not be any way to make up for the lost income. If you are one of the lucky ones who purchased disability income insurance, you will receive approximately 66% of your salary. These individuals need to create and stick to a budget to get by.
What local policies and programs have proven effective in increasing inclusion and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities?
This is a vast subject. I would say though that the most important is Social Security Disability. This gives the person with a disability some income at least. Locally, there are food stamps and housing voucher to name a couple.
Same as anyone or acting economic efficiency and using the world effectively.
The following advice answers several of your questions:
Identify openly as a person with disabilities. Cultivate dignity and authority as a person with disabilities. Enter into organizations and communities that offer support, resources, groups, and gathering opportunities for people with disabilities. Find like-minded colleagues and friends who have disabilities. As a person with disabilities, know your rights, protections, opportunities, information, culture, and communities that can support your flourishing as a disabled person. Learn about requesting accommodations, accessing resources and information, and getting physical access. Use public transportation reduced fares and research how to get proper documentation and procedures for transportation and other public space venues. Learn about reduced entrance fees for people with disabilities. Know and use what the Americans with Disabilities Act contains; go to the website on your computer or an accessible public computer at your library. Know your communities; know your rights; know your access needs; know your accessible technology.
Individuals with special needs face difficulties in staying eligible for government entitlements such as Medicaid waivers. While eligibility varies from state to state, generally, if a person is eligible for supplemental security income (SSI) they are eligible for Medicaid waiver benefits. There is a two part test for SSI which measures 1) assets and 2) income. Exceeding one of those two thresholds is troublesome for the disabled person. Friends and family inadvertently can disqualify their loved one from benefits by providing gifts of money or even gifts in kind. Special needs trusts (SNTs) are excellent tools to allow family and friends to provide supplemental support to disabled individuals without disqualifying them for benefits. There are several types of SNTs so you need to be very careful to establish the appropriate type to meet one’s needs. Another tool is an ABLE account. The new ABLE Act will allow tax advantaged accounts that additionally will not count against SSI (up to $100,000). However, states are still working to establish their state programs. While this makes great strides to simplifying special needs financial planning, it does not replace the need for a special needs trust.
When parents, grandparents and loved ones leave inheritances to a disabled person, they do not need to leave it directly to the disabled person. The bequest should go to the SNT to prevent disqualification of SSI and therefore Medicaid.
To identify the cities with the most suitable living conditions for people with disabilities, WalletHub compared the 150 most populated cities across three key dimensions, including: 1) Economic Environment, 2) Quality of Life and 3) Health Care. We then compiled 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available only at the state level.
With regard to our sample, please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.
Economic Environment – Total Weight: 5
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight
- Cost of Living: Full Weight
- Employment Rate for People with Disabilities: Double Weight
- Percentage of the Persons with Disabilities Living Below Poverty Level: Double Weight
- Annual Cost of In-Home Services: Full Weight
- Median Earnings for People with Disabilities: Double Weight
Quality of Life – Total Weight: 5
- Percentage of Persons with Disabilities Living in the Area: Full Weight
- Number of Special-Education Teachers per 1,000 People with Disabilities: Full Weight
- Number of Hotels with Wheelchair Access per 100,000 Residents (used as a proxy for restaurants with wheelchair access): Quarter* Weight
- Percentage of City Population with Walkable Park Access: Half Weight
- Walkability: Full Weight
- Effectiveness of State Medicaid Programs (annual ranking of how well state Medicaid programs serve Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD)): Half* Weight
- Average Age of Buildings (old building are harder to make accessible): Half Weight
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight
Health Care– Total Weight: 5
- Doctor-Visit Cost: Full Weight
- Average Per-Person Health Insurance Premium: Half* Weight
- Number of Family and General Physicians per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
- WalletHub “Nurses” Ranking: Half* Weight
- Public Hospital System Quality: Half* Weight
- Number of Hospitals per 100,000 Residents: Half* Weight
- Percentage of Uninsured People: Full Weight
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Trust For Public Land, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, eHealthInsurance Services, Genworth Financial, United Cerebral Palsy, WalkScore, TripAdvisor and WalletHub research.