Disability-inclusive social protection

Social protection schemes should cover disability-related extra costs and provide incentives for persons with disabilities to enter and stay in the labour market.

The structure of social protection schemes can be an obstacle to the employment of persons with disabilities. In many countries that provide disability benefits, eligibility for benefits is tied to the inability to work, providing a disincentive to look for employment, and instead receive benefits. Even if employment could result in higher levels of income, persons with disabilities may still choose to receive benefits because of the risk of attempting to hold down a job that does not provide adequate support, or is not flexible enough towards their needs. Moreover, working often includes extra costs for people with disabilities which cut into the return to work, if not covered by social protection schemes.

Thus, social protection systems – both mainstream schemes and those targeting people with disabilities only – can play a critical role in laying the foundation for many persons with disabilities to enter and/or stay in employment. By ensuring that persons with disabilities have income security, that their disability-related needs and extra costs are met and that they have effective access to health care services, these systems can significantly promote the participation of people with disabilities in the labour market and in society at large. The ILO is supporting policy reforms that promote an adequate and flexible combination of income security and disability-related support for the economic empowerment of people with disabilities.