National Disability Institute's Washington Insider

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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October 2016 | Vol. 8, Issue 9
NDI Stands with Over 80 Organizations to Support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Social Security Beneficiaries Set to Receive Modest Increase
“Bottom Dollars” – A Documentary on the Use of Sub-Minimum Wage
Webinar: Understanding the Investment Side of ABLE
September 2016 Employment Profile


NDI Stands with Over 80 Organizations to Support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Task Force on Financial Security, co-chaired by National Disability Institute (NDI), submitted a letter to Congress this past month articulating its formal position on the three ABLE Act improvement bills. The letter, supported by NDI and signed by over 80 other national and state organizations, took issue with the movement of ABLE-related legislation that did not include an increase to the age provision under the current law.

The letter, dated October 3, stated:

“The CCD Task Force on Financial Security, other members of CCD, and friends of CCD, totaling 82 organizations, wish to express significant concern with the movement of any legislation related to the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act) that does not include a meaningful increase to the age requirement within the eligibility criteria of the law. The Task Force cannot support, and will oppose, regardless of merit, movement of any legislation that aims to increase the benefits of currently eligible individuals, while ignoring the needs of individuals with disabilities solely based on the age when that individual first experienced their disability. We support both the ABLE to Work Act (S. 2702/HR 4795) and the ABLE Financial Planning Act (S. 2703/HR 4794), however we oppose their movement absent the movement of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 2704/HR 4813).”

The letter was prompted by the movement of the ABLE to Work Act (S. 2702) and the ABLE Financial Planning Act (S. 2703) out of the Senate Finance Committee absent any similar movement of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 2704). It is important to note that each of these bills has received a “score” from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that allows Congress to understand how much each bill would cost the federal government over a 10-year period if enacted. It has been reported that the ABLE Age Adjustment Act has a significantly larger score than its two counterparts. Despite the reported larger score, the vast majority of the disability community (including NDI) is greatly troubled by the thought that Congress would choose to begin to increase benefits to those already eligible, while so many individuals with disabilities remain in need and excluded from the benefits of an ABLE account simply due to the age at which they encounter their disability.

NDI encourages you to contact your Representatives and Senators to express support for this position and to urge Congress to increase the age provision of the ABLE Act.

Read the full CCD letter.

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

For over 70 years, the month of October has been a time to celebrate the diversity that disability brings to our workforce. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a nationwide campaign managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), is a chance to raise awareness of disability employment issues, such as the fact that only 20 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the workforce.

The official theme of this year’s NDEAM is “#InclusionWorks.” By incorporating a hashtag into the name, ODEP encouraged individuals and organizations to start discussions on social media about the many ways that disability “inclusion works.”

National Disability Institute (NDI) is proud to add our name to the many organizations, government agencies, companies and advocates who spent this month promoting opportunities for people with disabilities to have competitive, integrated employment. 

Throughout the month, NDI shared a host of NDEAM blogs and resources, and we encourage you to visit the NDI blog and follow NDI on Facebook and Twitter

On October 19, NDI hosted a Twitter chat with well-known disability advocate, author and CEO of Ruh Global Communications, Debra Ruh. The chat addressed Ms. Ruh’s new book, “Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Global Companies Improve Their Bottom Line by Employing Persons with Disabilities.”

NDI also took part in a Twitter chat with America Saves to discuss saving options for people with disabilities, such as how ABLE accounts can help workers save money without jeopardizing their publicly-funded benefits.

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Social Security Beneficiaries Set to Receive Modest Increase

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that Social Security beneficiaries, including those on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will see a 0.3 percent increase to their benefit. This extremely modest increase comes as a result of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) mandated by law. For the approximately 8 million individuals with disabilities receiving SSI, this means an increase of $2.00 to their maximum monthly benefit, now totaling $735.

While the increase, set to begin January 1, is relatively miniscule, it is worth noting that there were no increases in the years 2010, 2011 and 2016. For individuals with disabilities, this benefit is often the only buffer between living on the streets and having a roof over their heads.

National Disability Institute will continue to work with members of Congress to insure that this benefit is protected and increased as appropriate.

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“Bottom Dollars” – A Documentary on the Use of Sub-Minimum Wage

Recently, Rooted in Rights, a project of Disability Rights Washington, released a compelling documentary titled “Bottom Dollars,” which examines the legal utilization of 14c waivers. A 14c waiver allows a business to compensate a person with a disability under the minimum wage based on their level of productivity. The documentary reports that there are nearly 250,000 people with disabilities in America that are receiving sub-minimum wage compensation, some as low as $2.00 an hour.

The practice of allowing businesses to pay sub-minimum wages is often criticized as an archaic and outdated practice that significantly hinders individuals with disabilities from increasing their economic mobility and allowing financial self-sufficiency. Despite outspoken advocacy to promote competitive integrated employment, this policy continues to be utilized across the county.

That being said, we have seen some progress. Legislation has been filed to reform the use of sub-minimum wages by phasing the practice out over a number of years. The TIME Act (H.R. 188), originally introduced by Congressman Harper (R-MS), has garnered 73 co-sponsors and recently has commandeered a Senate companion, filed by Senator Ayotte (R-NH).

National Disability Institute (NDI) continues to support the efforts of Congressman Harper and Senator Ayotte in their effort to create a more promising economic future for individual with disabilities.

Learn more about the “Bottom Dollars” documentary.

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Webinar: Understanding the Investment Side of ABLE

On November 15, the ABLE National Resource Center will hold a webinar: "ABLE Funds: Understanding the Investment Side of ABLE."

The webinar will concentrate on how potential ABLE account beneficiaries and their families can better understand the investment side of owning and maintaining an ABLE account.

Areas covered during the webinar will include:

  • Understanding the difference between a checking account, savings account, and investment account 
  • Understanding the varying degrees of “risk” associated with different investment choices that may be associated with ABLE accounts
  • Learning more about what characteristics should be taken into consideration when choosing an investment option under an ABLE program
  • Learning about why fees may vary from one investment option to another
  • Understanding how and when you are allowed to change investment options under ABLE accounts

Register now for the webinar!

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September 2016 Employment Profile

Disability employment statistics for September 2016 show that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 8.7 percent. This is a 1.2 percent decrease from August 2015. The latest employment statistics also find that only 19.8 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the labor force, as compared to 68.2 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
With Disability
Without Disability
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
Employment-Population Ratio
Unemployment Rate
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

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