NDI Public Policy Agenda
There are no simple steps or easy solutions to advance financial stability and a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly issues reports about the fragmentation of federal disability programs and the lack of alignment of policy goals that define common outcomes. In addition, too many public benefits (Social Security, Medicaid) require as a condition of eligibility that people with disabilities stay poor and prohibit saving and building assets.
As explained by the Presidents Committee for Intellectual Disabilities in their 2004 Report to the President, historically, public assistance in exchange for enforced poverty and the absence of freedom is a bad deal one that fails all parties to the arrangement; people with disabilities their families, and the American people.
To overcome these challenges, NDI makes the following recommendations to improve tax and social policy and cross-agency collaboration. Join us in our work to advance solutions that promote a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families.
- Establish, by Executive Order, an Interagency Federal Task Force on Economic Empowerment for working age-adults with disabilities to identify barriers and propose solutions to federal policies that create disincentives to work, saving and asset- building.
- Create financial empowerment centers.
Asset Development Strategies
- Enact the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a tax-advantaged family savings program to encourage families with children with disabilities to set aside funds for future asset goals. If the ABLE Act passes in 2012, NDI will focus on its implementation.
- Enact the Savings for Working Families Act to launch the availability of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to an estimated 900,000 low-income workers, including individuals with and without disabilities, over a seven-year period.
- Expand the IRS community partnership development and volunteer tax preparation assistance programs to target low-income taxpayers with disabilities to ensure their enhanced access and use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), financial education and low-cost affordable financial services and products.
- Seek to update Javits Wagner ODay (JWOD) Act and AbilityOne Program through regulatory changes that would require that the AbilityOne and its central nonprofit organizations like NIB and NISH work with a new central nonprofit agency that serves as an intermediary for cooperatives who employ and share business ownership with individual business owners eligible under JWOD who have significant disabilities. If regulatory changes are unsuccessful, consider a legislative amendment.
- Support ODEPs efforts to help states implement an Employment First framework that will focus the delivery of publicly-financed supports on integrated employment as the primary or preferred employment outcome for individuals with significant disabilities as a pathway to greater economic self-sufficiency.
Changes to Social Security
- Reform asset limits to determine eligibility under SSI and Medicaid, as well as exclude as assets all restricted savings vehicle such as IRAs, 401(k) and 529 plans.
- Raise the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level under SSDI.
- Encourage the expansion of Plans for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) and similar tools to foster focused asset development and financial planning among the 10 million+ recipients of SSI and SSDI in an effort to help design, customize and accomplish financial goals on an annual basis based upon individual needs and preferences.
Consumer Education and Protection
- Amend the Workforce Investment Act to require all One-Stop Career Centers to offer financial education programs in collaboration with Treasury and the FDIC.
- Amend Individual Plan requirements under IDEA, the Rehabilitation Act (VR), and Home and Community Based Service Waiver (Medicaid) to require annual consideration of the need for financial literacy skills development and objectives to advance economic self-sufficiency.
- Monitor and influence implementation of the Affordable Care Act in order to prevent further financial destabilization persons with disabilities and to help define core threshold services to be included in healthcare exchanges.
- Establish an office of Disability within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Consumer Education and Engagement division.
- Monitor the Direct Express program at the Department of the Treasury to advocate for elimination of bank fees on mandatory debit card use for Social Security beneficiaries who are unbanked.