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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.

 

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November 2017 | Vol. 9, Issue 10
CONTENTS
Congress Moves to Advance the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”
ABLE Congressional Briefing to Take Place in December
Join NDI as We Release Findings from the 2015 National Financial Capability Study
October Employment Profile
 

Congress Moves to Advance the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”

On November 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, more commonly known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” H.R. 1 has provoked significant concerns from the disability community due to several provisions within the proposed legislation that are expected, if signed into law, to have detrimental effects on individuals with disabilities and their families.

Within H.R. 1, there is an elimination of the medical expense deduction, which is a deduction utilized by over eight million filers per year. This would adversely affect individuals with more significant healthcare needs (which includes large numbers of children and adults with disabilities) by no longer allowing them to deduct as much of their out-of-pocket medical expenses. These out-of-pocket medical expenses could include personal care assistance, special medications and assistive technology expenses. Additionally, H.R. 1 would eliminate both the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which provides an incentive to businesses who hire individuals with disabilities, and the Disabled Access Credit, which is used by small businesses to help meet accessibility and modification obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Furthermore, the Senate recently passed their version of the tax bill out of the Senate Finance Committee and hopes to have a floor vote soon. The Senate version of the tax bill, although somewhat different from the House version, still is a point of significant concern to the disability community. The Senate version includes a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That provision alone is expected to result in the loss of healthcare coverage for an estimated 13 million Americans. While the Senate version does offer two provisions that would modestly increase benefits to ABLE account owners who are employed, and those interested in transferring funds from a 529 College Savings account into an ABLE account, it fails to include an amendment that would allow millions more individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enroll in ABLE programs by increasing the age of onset criteria for eligibility.

Lastly, both the House and Senate versions of the Tax bill are estimated to cost approximately $1.5 trillion over the course of the next 10 years. With such a drastic loss of revenue, this legislation would put tremendous pressure on Congress to make severe cuts to programs that assist individuals with disabilities and their families, such as Medicaid.

Putting the supports and services provided to individuals with disabilities and their families in such peril, in order to provide tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, is unacceptable. National Disability Institute (NDI) stands with the majority of our national disability-related advocacy partners in opposing both the House and Senate versions of this legislation. Over the next couple weeks, we will be working to educate Members of Congress about the harmful effects that this legislation would have on the disability community.

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ABLE Congressional Briefing to Take Place in December

The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC), founded and managed by National Disability Institute (NDI) is set to host a congressional briefing regarding the implementation of the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

The purpose of this briefing is to provide Members of Congress and ABLE-related stakeholders with a progress report on ABLE Act implementation nationwide. The briefing will provide an in depth look at what we know to date about account owner demographics, number of accounts open, contribution levels and other significant data points. We will also highlight successes, examine implementation challenges and look into the future with respect to legislative recommendations to strengthen ABLE.

As a result of the ABLE Act, more than 30 states have launched ABLE programs. During the nearly three years since its enactment, a tremendous amount of work has been done on the local, state and federal levels to ensure that eligible individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to build a more sound financial future, without jeopardizing their eligibility for various supports and services provided by means-tested programs.

The briefing is sponsored by Senator Robert “Bob” Casey, Senator Richard Burr, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Representative Pete Sessions and Representative Tony Cardenas, and is held in collaboration with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Financial Security Taskforce and the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) ABLE Committee.

The briefing is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. on Monday, December 4, 2017 from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. in Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building, and will include presenters and guest panelists from across the country.

View the tentative event agenda.

RSVP to the briefing.

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Join NDI as We Release Findings from the 2015 National Financial Capability Study

On Monday, December 11, from 1-3 pm at the Holeman Lounge of the National Press Club, National Disability Institute will hold an event to release a new report, “Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities: Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Study.” At this event, NDI will present our research findings, which will then be followed by two reactor panels that include leaders in the disability community and key federal agency representatives.

The report, funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, builds on what we have learned from our previous research with the FDIC and challenges government and the disability and financial communities to design solutions.

Learn more about this event and register to attend.

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October Employment Profile

Disability employment statistics for October 2017 show that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 7.6 percent. This shows a 2.3 percent decrease from August 2016. The latest employment statistics also find that only 21.0 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the labor force, as compared to 68.3 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
 
Oct.
2016
Oct.
2017
Oct.
2016
Oct.
2017
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
20.0
21.0
68.6
68.3
Employment-Population Ratio
18.1
19.4
65.5
65.8
Unemployment Rate
9.9
7.6
4.5
3.7
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

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