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July/August 2016 | Vol. 8, Issue 7
CONTENTS
National Disability Institute Launches DISABLE POVERTY Campaign
ABLE National Resource Center Rolls Out New Website Features
National Disability Institute Speaks at Social Security Advisory Board Public Forum
National Disability Institute Hosts ABLE Convening with National Stakeholders
Representatives File Companion Bill to Transition to Independence Act
July 2016 Employment Profile


 

National Disability Institute Launches DISABLE POVERTY Campaign

On July 26, National Disability Institute (NDI) launched DISABLE POVERTY, a grassroots campaign to increase awareness about the nearly one in three Americans with disabilities that live in poverty. The two overarching goals of the campaign, to be achieved in the next 10 years, are to:

  • Decrease the number of working-age adults with disabilities living in poverty by 50 percent, and
  • Increase the use of mainstream banking products and services among Americans with disabilities by 50 percent.

Participants in the DISABLE POVERTY campaign are asked to take a pledge and share on social media urging others to do the same. In addition, a series of actionable items for individuals, disability/advocacy organizations, companies and financial institutions can be found on the DISABLE POVERTY website that provide concrete steps that people can take to become actively involved in advancing financial inclusion for people with disabilities.

Impetus for the DISABLE POVERTY campaign was spurred, in part, by a 2015 report released by NDI: Banking Status and Financial Behaviors of Adults with Disabilities: Findings from the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households. Findings from the report indicate that, in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, ensuring all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” this population still faces numerous financial hurdles and roadblocks to financial inclusion. 

The DISABLE POVERTY campaign will run for two years. Visit the DISABLE POVERTY website to take the pledge and learn more about how to take action on the issue of disability and poverty in America. 

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ABLE National Resource Center Rolls Out New Website Features

Following the launch of the nation’s first four ABLE programs, the ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC), founded and managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), announced the rollout of several new and exciting features on its website. The “State Pages” will now include additional relevant information about states with launched ABLE programs (which appear in blue on the interactive map), highlighting the programs’ specific characteristics. These new features allow individuals to learn about how each program can affect them, as well as understand how each program operates.

Additionally, the ANRC website includes a new State Comparison Tool that allows individuals to select and compare ABLE programs side-by-side to determine which program best fits their needs.

For future updates on ABLE programs and accounts, follow ANRC on Facebook and sign up for the ANRC ABLE Alerts.

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National Disability Institute Speaks at Social Security Advisory Board Public Forum

On July 12, the Social Security Advisory Board held a public forum on the Social Security Income (SSI) Program to examine four different policy challenges to the program. Each topic held its own panel on related topics: SSI Resource Limits and the ABLE Act; SSI Policies on In-Kind Support and Maintenance; Policy and Practice on Child Welfare Programs; and SSI Youth Transitions to Adulthood.

National Disability Institute (NDI) had the opportunity to present on the SSI Resource Limits and the ABLE Act panels. These presentations gave NDI a platform to emphasize the benefits of the ABLE Act to the Advisory Board, and to highlight the significant impact it will have on people with disabilities living in poverty. Other members of the panel agreed that the ABLE Act was a positive measure, but disagreed about whether to expand or limit the eligibility and rules of the program in light of resource limits for other programs.

The second panel discussed a possible simplification of the In-Kind Support and Maintenance rules for SSI, which currently reduce SSI benefits for those who receive ‘gifts’ of support, such as food or housing.

The third panel featured the Policy Assistant to Speaker Ryan, who spoke on the recently released “A Better Way” plan to reduce poverty. He re-emphasized the Speaker’s goals, including achieving work for all able-bodied and work-capable adults and increasing access to financial institutions for low-income populations. Other panelists rebutted Speaker Ryan’s plan for replacing benefits with services and spoke to the SSI benefits system for foster care children. One panelist suggested promoting ABLE accounts for children with disabilities in the foster care system.

The fourth and final panel discussed the effects of the SSI re-evaluation on those turning 18. Research found that compared to other disadvantaged but not disabled groups, youth removed from the SSI program at age 18 earn just one-third of the income that the disadvantaged group makes. In addition, only 10 percent of removed youth earn a self-sufficient income, and a majority earn close to nothing.

For more information on the public forum, and to see the ABLE fact sheet distributed by NDI, visit the Social Security Advisory Board’s website.

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National Disability Institute Hosts ABLE Convening with National Stakeholders

National Disability Institute (NDI), in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the ABLE National Resource Center and the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, hosted “Promoting Access and Inclusion in ABLE Programs: New Opportunities for Saving, Financial Inclusion and Economic Security for Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families.”

The meeting, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia on July 26-27, focused on research delving into the financial circumstances of people with disabilities and their families, and promoting access and inclusion in ABLE programs nationwide. Largely facilitated by NDI Executive Director Michael Morris and Senior Public Policy Advisor Chris Rodriguez, the meeting convened representatives from national disability advocacy organizations, state ABLE administrators, federal agencies and financial institutions.

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Representatives File Companion Bill to Transition to Independence Act

Led by Representatives McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Van Hollen (D-MD), the Transition to Independence Act (TIA) was filed on July 14, 2016. Otherwise known as H.R. 5903, this bill acts as the House companion to its Senate counterpart (S. 1604), led by Senators Grassley (R-IA), Wyden (D-OR) and Casey (D-PA). Though not completely identical, the bills are extremely similar. Both versions of the bill act to establish a new demonstration project, which would solicit participations from a number of Medicaid Buy-in states in order to assist those states in improving the employment outcomes of their respective citizens with disabilities, particularly those residing in, or at risk of residing in, sheltered workshops.

The project’s aim will be to: (1) improve integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities, thereby reducing their relegation to subminimum wages and segregated environments; (2) modernize and coordinate systems to offer cost-effective supports and services to people with disabilities, consistent with the increased expectations of and for people with disabilities; and (3) ensure that people with disabilities and their families receive the latest information on services and supports that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, integration and inclusion.

TIA seeks to accomplish the aforementioned goals by offering participating states bonus payments for meeting benchmarks related to expanding integrated and competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities receiving home or community-based services (HCBS).

NDI applauds this bi-partisan effort to assist states in increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to expand their economic mobility, and will be working with other national disability related organizations to educate Congress on the importance of this legislation.

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July 2016 Employment Profile

Disability employment statistics for July 2016 show that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 11.1 percent. This is a 0.7 percent increase from July 2015. The latest employment statistics also find that only 20.4 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the labor force, as compared to 69.2 percent of people with no disability. Data on people with disabilities covers those between the ages of 16 to 64 who do not live in institutions.

U.S. Disability Employment Profile
Statistic
With Disability
Without Disability
 
July
2015
July
2016
July
2015
July
2016
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
19.8
20.4
69.0
69.2
Employment-Population Ratio
17.7
18.1
65.3
65.8
Unemployment Rate
10.4
11.1
5.4
4.9
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

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