THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE
Health and Medicine Division
Board on Health Care Services
Committee on the Use of Selected Assistive Products and Technologies in Eliminating or Reducing the Effects of Impairments
The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation
The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that 56.7 million Americans had some type of disability in 2010, which represents 18.7 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population included in the 2010 Survey of Income and Program Participation. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. As of December 2015, approximately 11 million individuals were SSDI beneficiaries, and about 8 million were SSI beneficiaries.
SSA currently considers assistive devices in the nonmedical and medical areas of its program guidelines. During determinations of substantial gainful activity and income eligibility for SSI benefits, the reasonable cost of items, devices, or services applicants need to enable them to work with their impairment is subtracted from eligible earnings, even if those items or services are used for activities of daily living in addition to work. In addition, SSA considers assistive devices in its medical disability determination process and assessment of work capacity.
This new report, from the National Academies, provides an analysis of selected assistive products and technologies, including wheeled and seated mobility devices, upper-extremity prostheses, and products and technologies selected by the committee that pertain to hearing and to communication and speech in adults.