the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Employment & Social Security

A Win for Many SSI Recipients: Automatic Economic Impact Payments!

Last week we sent an alert about the Economic Impact Payments in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We noted that for many people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension, there was not a clear or easy process to receive economic impact payments. Commissioner Saul’s previous statement clarified that the Social Security Administration (SSA) was working with the Treasury Department to address questions regarding SSI recipients and other people who are not required to file taxes but do not receive SSA-1099s.

Yesterday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Treasury Department, and SSA announced that SSI recipients will automatically receive their payments. Payments will be received by the same method they usually receive their SSI benefits, and they should be received by early May. This is a big victory that will ensure millions of people can access much-needed payments to help during this crisis.

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An Update About Economic Impact Payments

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized payments to be made to many people. These are referred to as “economic impact payments”.

There has been a lot of confusion about exactly how this will work. Because people with disabilities are facing increased costs during the pandemic and because our community is disproportionately poor to start with, NCIL and other advocacy organizations have been working to ensure that the confusion is cleared up and that everyone who is entitled to a payment can access it.

Last Friday, the Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul released a statement. He has cleared up some of our questions, but not all of them.

We have created a web page with everything we know so far. Please visit advocacymonitor.com/eip to read the full update on this important topic.

NCIL is following this all closely, and we will send an updated alert when we have additional information. The Commissioner has indicated that the IRS will provide additional information at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Keyword: COVID-19

Two Weeks Left to Apply for the Inclusive Pipeline Challenge

The Administration for Community Living invites businesses to expand inclusion of people with disabilities in their workforce.

Community-based organizations serving people with disabilities are encouraged to partner with local businesses to develop innovative models that can be replicated to help businesses across the country reach a wider talent pool and to create more opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

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Take Action to Protect Social Security Benefits!

The Social Security Administration has proposed a new rule for people who get disability benefits. The proposed rule would apply to both SSDI and SSI and would change the number and frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). If this rule is finalized, over 2 million people could be at risk of losing their disability benefits over the next 10 years.

Social Security is a lifeline that so many people with disabilities depend on. We need to fight this proposed rule!

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Today: Call-In Day for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act!

This December will mark five years since the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which started to allow disabled people to create tax-free savings accounts (“ABLE Accounts”). Over the past five years, ABLE Accounts have helped over 50,000 people with disabilities save money and pay for things like housing, transportation, and healthcare costs without jeopardizing their access to Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS) and other needed supports. Learn more about ABLE accounts at www.ablenrc.org.

Unfortunately, millions of people don’t have access to ABLE Accounts, because a person is only eligible if they acquired their disability before the age of 26. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 651 / H.R. 1814) has the potential to change that. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would dramatically expand eligibility for ABLE Accounts by allowing people who acquired their disability before the age of 46 to become eligible. If the ABLE Age Adjustment Act is passed into law, approximately six million more disabled people will be eligible for an ABLE Account!

Take Action Now!

Today, Thursday, November 14, there is a National Call-In Day for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. 

  1. RSVP, Share, and Participate in today’s National Call-In Day! Find more information, including sample talking points, at the Facebook event. RSVP and share widely!
  2. Boost the event on social media! Use the handle #ABLEAgeNow
  3. Call your Representative and Senators! Tell them to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 651 / H.R. 1814) and pass it immediately! Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find your Senators’ direct phone number and contact form at senate.gov and your Representative’s direct number and contact form at house.gov/representatives.

Call-In Day for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act!

This December will mark five years since the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which started to allow disabled people to create tax-free savings accounts (“ABLE Accounts”). Over the past five years, ABLE Accounts have helped over 50,000 people with disabilities save money and pay for things like housing, transportation, and healthcare costs without jeopardizing their access to Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS) and other needed supports. Learn more about ABLE accounts at www.ablenrc.org.

Unfortunately, millions of people don’t have access to ABLE Accounts, because a person is only eligible if they acquired their disability before the age of 26. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 651 / H.R. 1814) has the potential to change that. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would dramatically expand eligibility for ABLE Accounts by allowing people who acquired their disability before the age of 46 to become eligible. If the ABLE Age Adjustment Act is passed into law, approximately six million more disabled people will be eligible for an ABLE Account!

Take Action Now!

On Thursday, November 14 there is a National Call-In Day for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. 

  1. RSVP, Share, and Participate in Thursday’s National Call-In Day! Find more information, including sample talking points, at Thursday’s Facebook event . RSVP and share widely!
  2. Boost the event on social media! Use the handle #ABLEAgeNow
  3. On Thursday, call your Representative and Senators! Tell them to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 651 / H.R. 1814) and pass it immediately! Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find your Senators’ direct phone number and contact form at senate.gov and your Representative’s direct number and contact form at house.gov/representatives.

Sign-On Opportunity for Competitive Integrated Employment!

NCIL is part of a national coalition working to advance competitive integrated employment. Among other efforts, the coalition has strongly opposed opening the regulations implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. The WIOA regulations, issued in 2016, focus on competitive integrated employment (CIE) as a national priority.

In the past three Unified Agendas from the Department of Education Secretary (which list the agency’s key priorities and regulatory actions the agency is considering), Secretary DeVos has notified the public that they may reconsider these regulations. This may include amending the regulatory definitions, where CIE is defined.

The coalition has consistently opposed this, including in multiple letters to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. View the most recent letter (PDF). The regulations, including the definition of CIE, are critical. Opening the regulations risks undermining progress toward expanding competitive integrated employment.

TAKE ACTION – Sign on!

The new Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner, Mark Schultz, is now serving as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). It is important that we reinforce our message to him and tell him that the regulations implementing the WIOA must not be opened!

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Final Reminder: Comments on Subminimum Wage Due This Friday!

Updated: The Department of Labor has extended the deadline for comments for the National Online Dialogue about Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Comments are now due Friday, June 21, 2019. The sheltered workshop industry and 14(c) supporters are flooding the dialogue, so it is critical that we submit comments! Please see below for additional information, resources, and talking points.

As you know, the Independent Living community has long opposed the use of Section 14(c) certificates to pay disabled people subminimum wages. Employers use 14(c) certificates to pay disabled employees lower than the minimum wage – sometimes just pennies per hour. Paying people lower wages on the basis of their disability is discrimination, and this is one of the factors that have contributed to disproportionate rates of poverty among disabled people. This online dialogue provides us with an opportunity to share stories and information about our position, experiences, and ideas on this discriminatory and harmful practice. It is critical that our input be heard.

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Participate in an Online Dialogue to Share Your Thoughts on Subminimum Wage!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is hosting a National Online Dialogue about Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The dialogue is intended to gather input on Section 14(c) from people across the country in the form of “ideas, individual stories, and personal experiences illustrating the impact of Section 14(c) on the employment of people with disabilities.”

The Independent Living community has long opposed the use of Section 14(c) certificates to pay disabled people subminimum wages. Employers use 14(c) certificates to pay disabled employees lower than the minimum wage – sometimes just pennies per hour. Paying people lower wages on the basis on their disability is discrimination, and this is one of the factors that has contributed to disproportionate rates of poverty among disabled people. This online dialogue provides us with an opportunity to share stories and information about our position, experiences, and ideas on this discriminatory and harmful practice. It is critical that our input be heard!

[Read more…]

Competitive Integrated Employment Updates and Action Alert

New Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment

Disabled people deserve to be fully included in the workforce, working real jobs for real pay. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) established competitive integrated employment (CIE) as a priority, which means the opportunity for disabled people to work for the same wages and benefits and in the community alongside nondisabled coworkers.

NCIL has joined the Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment, a coalition of over 20 other national organizations working to promote competitive integrated employment. You can check out our new website, learn more about the coalition and current efforts around CIE, and find out how you can get involved in the effort to protect CIE at integratedemploymentnow.org.

Upcoming Hearing

Today, Tuesday May 21, the House Committee on Education and Labor are holding a hearing entitled “Eliminating Barriers to Employment: Opening Doors to Opportunity”. The hearing will include a focus on the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. Read more about this hearing.

Take Action for the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act!

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R. 873 / S. 260) was introduced earlier this year by Senators Casey and Van Hollen, Chairman Scott, and Representative McMorris Rodgers. The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act will phase out the use of 14(c) certificates and provide funding for grants to states and employers to transform business models to support competitive integrated employment. Read the fact sheet (PDF) and the letter NCIL signed (PDF).

Please contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R. 873 / S. 260)! It’s time to expand opportunities for competitive integrated employment and end subminimum wages! Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Representative or Senator’s office, or contact their office directly using the directory for the House or Senate.