new-washington-insider-header-no-bottom
 

National Disability Institute's Washington Insider is a monthly newsletter highlighting key federal policy news that impacts the financial futures and economic empowerment of all people with disabilities. The Washington Insider tracks legislative and policy initiatives gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, specifically in the areas of taxation, asset building and economic development.

 

National Disability Institute on Facebook Facebook

National Disability Institute on Twitter  Twitter

National Disability Institute Blog - Click to Visit Blog

June 2013 | Vol. 5, Issue 5
CONTENTS
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization
Social Security Board of Trustees Releases its Annual Report on the Long-Term Financial Status of the Social Security Trust Funds
NDI's Michael Morris Featured in Atlanta Federal Reserve Podcast
2014 PROMISE Grants
ODEP Hosts Disability Employment Tabulation Webinar
House Ways and Means Committee Holds Hearing on How Social Security Protects the Benefits of Those Who Cannot Protect Themselves
June Employment Profile
 

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization

Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is underway in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senators Harkin and Alexander (the Committee’s Chairman and Ranking Member) will take on Title IV, otherwise known as the “Rehab Act”, and Senators Murray and Isaakson will work on the other titles.  Both the majority and minority staff say that they are determined to produce a bipartisan Senate bill, and that their target for introducing the bill is the end of 2013.

However, a bipartisan Senate WIA bill faces an uphill battle in the House, where the Education and Workforce has released two separate bills along party lines: Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803), introduced by Committee Republicans, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (H.R. 798), released by Committee Democrats.  The committee’s Democrats walked-out of a committee vote on Republican legislation to consolidate federal job-training programs, complaining that the GOP majority shut them out in a politically motivated rush to move the bill to the House floor.

With vastly different (partisan) bills in the House and Senate, it is difficult to see a path to reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act in this Congress.

Back to top



Social Security Board of Trustees Releases its Annual Report on the Long-Term Financial Status of the Social Security Trust Funds

The Social Security Trust fund is in virtually the same fiscal situation as it was last year, projected to remain solvent and able to fully pay beneficiaries for the next 20 years, with potential shortages thereafter if legislative changes are not made, according to the just-released 2013 Social Security Trustees Report. The report also noted that the Social Security Disability Insurance program “is in desperate need of reform” and, without congressional action disabled workers would begin to experience reductions in benefits in 2016. 

The Trustees Report, which as in previous years emphasizes immediate legislative reforms to ensure continued solvency, suggests that, “The longer policymakers wait to address its structural imbalance, the greater the required changes needed to ensure the 75-year solvency of the program. By enacting reforms in a comprehensive plan, policymakers can strengthen Social Security and ensure that it will be fully available for future generations."

According to the report “The recession has played some role in the deterioration of the DI program's finances, as those unable to find work turn to the program as an alternative.”

One disability policy expert explained that the shortfall in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund “has been predicted for many years and is largely due to demographics.”  According to Donna Meltzer, “on average Americans are living longer but with more disability, and the baby boomers are now in their high disability years.” She adds that “growth in SSDI has already begun to level off and is projected to decline further as the baby boomers age into retirement.”

Meltzer further explains that while action is indeed needed, “Congress has traditionally reallocated payroll tax rates between the Social Security trust funds to address anticipated shortfalls.” And she suggests that any such reallocation to address the current shortage would likely be a modest one designed to “put OASI and DI on an even track” and allow Congress to pass legislation to ensure the long term solvency of both funds, citing testimony from Social Security's Chief Actuary.

Back to top



NDI's Michael Morris Featured in Atlanta Federal Reserve Podcast

A recent podcast produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta focused on improving the workforce potential for persons with disabilities featured a discussion with Michael Morris, executive director of National Disability Institute, and Kathy Krepcio, executive director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. 

Morris outlined some of the policy barriers preventing many people with disabilities who want to work from participating in the competitive workforce, including that faced by the 11 million individuals on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and/or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). “With SSI, people face a very low asset limit of $2,000 to continue to qualify for benefits. What this does is create a very large disincentive for millions of people with disabilities from seeking to work or seeking to work at their full potential,” he noted. He suggested lifting the asset limits. If that occurred, he noted, and it was brought upward, that significant disincentive to work would be removed.

Krepcio discussed several other barriers for people with disabilities in the job market, including discrimination and segregation, federal policies that discourage work, low expectations, and a lack of access to skill attainment. 

Morris suggested a number of projects and strategies that are designed to increase participation of people with disabilities in the workforce through better assessment and identification, which in turn helps individuals market themselves and find a better job match. He cited a strategy called "customized employment," which looks at the ways that “one can negotiate with an employer to really find a match between employer needs and employee strengths.” Through another project, the Disability Employment Initiative, Morris’s group works with what are called "disability resource coordinators" in America's Job Centers in some 23 states to navigate through core intensive and training services match  people with jobs in which they can make full use of their talents.

Visit the podcast's page on the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta website to download the podcast or read a transcript.

Back to top



2014 PROMISE Grants

Applications are now open for grants through the Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) Program, which is a joint initiative from the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, as well as the Social Security Administration. The primary focus of the initiative is to support improved coordination of various services, such as those available through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants program, Medicaid health and home and community based services, Job Corps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Workforce Investment Act programs. PROMISE also seeks to facilitate the increased use of such services, ensuring that families are tied into programs for which they might be eligible, but are not yet participating. The program seeks to improve outcomes such as college and career readiness after graduation, completing job training, and reducing the child’s dependence on Supplemental Security Income.

States are eligible to apply for these multi-year grants independently or in a consortium of states. Between three and six applications will be awarded five-year grants between $22.5 million and $50 million. Applications are due August 19, 2013. For more information on how to apply see the Federal Register notice.

Back to top



ODEP Hosts Disability Employment Tabulation Webinar

The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recently presented a webinar with Melissa Chiu, Chief of the Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau, to discuss the recently released Disability Employment Tabulation 2008-2010.

The Disability Employment Tabulation, sponsored by ODEP and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), provides three years of data on disability employment collected from the American Community Survey in order to further education, research, and policy initiatives that improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. The tabulation provides over 1 billion new estimates highlighting the disability status and diversity of the labor force and population 16 and over for more than 4000 unique geographic entities and includes employment status, and various statistics about occupation, educational attainment, age, sex, race, citizenship, and earnings.

The report finds that individuals with disabilities were three times less likely to be employed than individuals without disabilities, while those individuals with disabilities who were employed typically held jobs with lower earnings and also earned less than their colleagues with no disability. The report notes that individuals with disabilities accounted for 9.4 million, or 6.0 percent, of the 155.9 million civilian labor force.

The highest number of employees with a disability were janitors and building cleaners, with 11.8 percent of all workers in that field.  Among occupations with 100,000 or more people, dishwashers had the highest disability rate at 14.3 percent, followed by refuse and recyclable material collectors (12.7 percent), and personal care aides (11.9 percent).

Back to top



House Ways and Means Committee Holds Hearing on How Social Security Protects the Benefits of Those Who Cannot Protect Themselves

On June 5th, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held a oversight hearing on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) representative payee program.  The SSA appoints a payee when a Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary is either under the age of 15 or unable to manage or direct the management of his or her benefits.
The hearing focused on the management challenges of the representative payee program and the agency’s plans for its future.  Currently, about fifteen percent of Social Security beneficiaries have their benefits managed by a representative payee. In fiscal year 2012, there were approximately 5.9 million representative payees, managing about $72 billion annually for approximately 8.4 million beneficiaries.

“About 14 percent of those receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits need someone to manage their payments.  These are our most vulnerable, including children and those who are mentally or physically incapable of managing their benefits.

Most often their payees, known as representative payees, are family members; often a parent or a spouse.  However, they can also be a friend or a qualified organization, such as a social service agency or a nursing home.

Sadly, there are payees who take advantage, sometimes in horrific ways, of the very people they are supposed to protect,” said Subcommittee Chairman Johnson.

Panel witnesses included Daniel Bertoni, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, Government Accountability Office, LaTina Burse Greene, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration, Elmer L. Cerano, Executive Director, Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, on behalf of the National Disability Rights Network.

The hearing focused on the challenges facing the administration and oversight of Social Security’s representative payee program and how Social Security is planning for the increasing demands facing the program as baby boomers age.

Back to top



June Employment Profile

U.S. Disability Employment Profile
Statistic
With Disability
Without Disability
 
May
2012
May
2013
May
2012
May
2013
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
20.7
20.7
69.4
69.1
Employment-Population Ratio
18.1
17.9
64.1
64.3
Unemployment Rate
12.9
13.6
7.7
7.0
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

Disability employment statistics for June show few changes from May 2012 to May 2013. The percent of the population in the labor force remains unchanged and the ratio of those employed relative to the general population is nearly unchanged, down .02 percent. There is a slight increase in the unemployment rate of workers with disabilities, up to 13.6 percent from 12.9 percent in May of 2012. This is a divergence from the unemployment rate of the general population, whose unemployment numbers are down to 7.0 percent from 7.7 percent in May of last year.

Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009 and are now released monthly.

Back to top




National Disability Institute

 

National Disability Institute
1667 K Street, NW
Suite 640
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 296-2040
Fax: (202) 296-2047

 

You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to the Washington Insider. 

www.realeconomicimpact.org
info@ndi-inc.org