| NDI Testifies at Public Hearing of
National Commission on Fiscal Reform and Responsibility: Proposes Key Reform Strategies to
Promote Economic Advancement of Citizens with Disabilities |
NDI Executive Director testified before the National
Commission on Fiscal Reform and Responsibility on 30 June 2010, sending a firm
message to the Commission that fiscal reforms should focus on economically
advancing citizens with disabilities. Over thirty individuals testified during the half-day public hearing,
but Morris was one of only two individuals who spoke specifically on the impact
of the Commission's work on the disability population.
Describing the strong correlation between disability
and poverty, Morris cautioned against any short-sighted approach toward
reducing federal costs that would result in the cutting of benefits and services
to people with disabilities. Additionally, Morris urged the Commission to look carefully at policy
recommendations and systemic reforms aimed at elevating the economic
self-sufficiency of citizens with disabilities and their families, including transforming
several federal systems from an approach of continued dependency toward one of
Government Accountability Office has found great need for rationalization and
coordination among these programs
and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has questioned the efficacy of many
Perhaps the greatest problem identified within the federal infrastructure of
disability support programs is that the programs don't offer a path to
self-sufficiency. In many cases, their complicated means-testing ensures
continued dependency. A focus on enabling people to acquire and build assets is
increasingly recognized as the only long-term solution to escalating costs and
frustrated hopes. This would require our country's largest entitlement programs
to use public resources to leverage and encourage savings rather than as
punishment for such efforts. To do this, we need to transcend the notion of
sharp demarcation lines between eligibility and ineligibility, and allow people
to retain benefits, including health insurance through Medicaid and other key
supports, long enough and reliably enough to acquire the tools for self-sufficiency.
By relaxing rigid means-testing in ways that have been successfully
demonstrated in numerous program settings, and by turning the benefits cutoff
cliff into a manageable, sloping hill, we can achieve the goals of personal
independence and long-term expenditure reductions that have until now eluded
Download Morris' full testimony (PDF)
Accounting Office, 2007 and 2008.
Congressional Budget Office, 2004.
|Advocates Rally to Urge House Passage
of ABLE Act prior to August Recess|
After two years of rigorous advocacy, passage of the ABLE Act is
starting to appear close. The ABLE Act encourages savings through a tax-advantaged savings vehicle
that will reduce the reliance of citizens with disabilities and their families
on public resources for needed services and supports. Through the use of ABLE
Accounts, individuals and families will be able to plan for their children with
disabilities as parents are able to plan for children without
disabilities. The inability
to plan for the future due to current asset limitations is a perverse punishment
and unfair burden placed on parents of children with disabilities.
The bill, H.R. 1205, currently has 185 cosponsors (including 19 members
of the House Ways & Means Committee). Recently, a coalition of 35 national organizations sent the House Democratic
leadership a letter
passage of the bill prior to the August recess. The coalition of organizations
supporting the ABLE Act are working closely with House W&M Committee staff
and our Senate champions to secure a pay-for, which would pay for the majority
of the $1.3 billion over ten years that the Joint Committee on Taxation scored
Additionally, an independent cost-benefit analysis of the ABLE Act was recently
conducted by Jon Hockenyos, CEO of TXP, a nationally recognized economics &
public policy firm based in Austin, TX. Applying the same methodology used by
the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in estimating the impact of similar
transfer programs resulting from enactment of the America Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Hockenyos model illustrates the following key
Download the full executive summary of the Hockenyos model
The ABLE Act
would result in approximately $2.4 billion in total economic activity among
citizens with disabilities over the course of a ten-year period.
the majority of this economic activity is spent among five categories (housing,
medical, transportation, education and retail), an estimated 4,300 permanent
jobs will be created within these five categories at an average wage of
23.9% of the $1.6 billion cost to the Treasury is offset by federal taxes
generated by the new economic activity, a figure that rises to 36.5% if the
state and local taxes are included in the equation.
Senate Champions Support Significant
Funding Increase to VITA Program in FY2011; Introduction of VITA Act of 2010 Forthcoming|
Acknowledging the merits of the Community Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance Grant program in helping local VITA sites provide free tax preparation
and other financial services to low-income taxpayers, 23 Senators sent a letter on 29 June 2010 to the leadership of
the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
Operations urging the Subcommittee to support an increase in FY2011 funding for
the VITA grant program to $35 million.
Although the Appropriations Committee funded the program at $12 million
over the past fiscal year, the signatories argue that, "Despite this federal
investment, demand for grants continues to outstrip availability." During the 2010 filing season, for
example, the IRS was able to make awards to only 147 VITA sites, although 379
centers applied for over $30 million in grant funding. The Senators who signed the letter also
conveyed concerns about additional pressures being placed on the VITA sites to
roll out new IRS initiatives with no administrative funding support.
In terms of timing, it is likely the appropriations cycle will extend
into early next year, with Congress passing a continuing resolution to keep the
government operating at FY2010 budgetary levels until the new Congress convenes
in January 2011. Meanwhile, it is
predicted that the VITA Act of 2010 will be introduced in late July.
ETA-commissioned Study Reveals Progress
in Securing Employment Opportunities for Citizens with Disabilities through
Generic Workforce Development System
A study recently completed by Mathematica Policy Research Inc on behalf
of US Dept. of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. The purpose of the study was to
complete a quantitative evaluation fo the Disability Program Navigator (DPN)
Initiative through the use of the One-Stop Career Center system by SSI and SSDI
beneficiaries. Data from the Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser in four
states who were early adopters of the DPN initiative (including CO, IA, MD and
OR) were used in the assessment to look at the following four issues:
Extent to which
One-Stop Career Centers are serving persons who are SSA disability
of SSI/SSDI beneficiaries receiving services;
Nature of the
services received; and
How services and
outcomes for beneficiaries compared with SSI/SSDI beneficiaries nationally.
The results of this study confirm that One-Stop Career Centers are
serving a larger share of persons receiving SSA disability benefits than other
federal work systems, and the public workforce system is providing important
support for SSA disability beneficiaries who want to work. Some key findings that are particularly
The numbers of
SSA disability beneficiaries receiving support through the public workforce
system greatly exceed participation levels of beneficiaries in other programs
including VR. When former SSA
beneficiaries are counted along with current SSA beneficiaries, the number and
% accessing WIA and W-P nearly doubled in each of the four states.
retention rates ranged from 73-80% for three of the four states.
- Of SSA
beneficiaries who became employed after using One-Stop services, roughly 35-50%
had earnings above the equivalent of the SSA substantial gainful activity (SGA)
level. Additionally, during a
12-month period after exit, 11-24% of SSA cash benefits were reduced to zero compared
to the national average of 6%.
While the study determined that the completion of a rigorous
quantitative evaluation of the DPN initiative was impossible and thus
non-conclusive, the research team did state that "The steady and
increasing trend....suggests that the DPN might have facilitated the collection
of disability information, possibly by raising awareness of disability issues
among staff and improving administrative processes".
In related news, DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy recently
commissioned the National Association of State Medicaid Directors (NASMD) to
examine how state Medicaid programs are investing in employment services and
what the outcomes are for beneficiaries with disabilities. The report is
expected to be available in the fall of 2010.
reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table
U.S. DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT PROFILE
% of population in the labor force
NDI's First Video Contest is here!
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, National Disability Institute presents Economic Empowerment - Defining the New American Dream, a nationwide video contest open to all persons with disabilities.
Visit dream.realeconomicimpact.org today for complete contest rules. Contest begins July 1, 2010 and all entries must be received by August 13, 2010.
grand prize winner will receive $1,000 and a trip to Washington, DC to
present their video at NDIs 6th Annual Real Economic Tour Kick-off
Event, held at the National Press Club October 19, 2010!
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