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

NCIL Policy on Employment and Economic Equity: Overview

Welder with a disability working

Congress: Amend the Current Law for Baby Boomers with Jobs!

NCIL maintains its strong requests to Congress to eliminate the age 65 limit for Medicaid Buy-In eligibility for workers as currently found in the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (PL 106-170). We know many workers with a disability need to retain Medicaid to pay for personal assistance services, for example, which in turn help pay for their continued independence, integration, and economic and community contributions.

This idea, with the help of partners in DC, has been put into proper legislative language and is ready to move forward! NCIL requests Congress to align this law with the same Medicaid Buy-In language in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, allowing for continued Medicaid Buy-In eligibility for workers with a disability age 65 and older. The two laws need to read as one on this matter to support all workers with disabilities. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which holds jurisdiction, has agreed to listen to and consider this proposal.

Congress: Create An Equal Playing Field and Remove Barriers to Employment for Older Workers!

NCIL also asks Congress to change Social Security rules and regulations (POMS) to eliminate earnings limitations for CDB / childhood disability beneficiaries (who draw benefits attributable to another’s account) upon reaching full Social Security retirement age (currently 66) to equate with rules of SSDI beneficiaries who have established their own account. This would eliminate such work disincentives as Substantial Gainful Employment (SGA) requirements for this group, encouraging all aging workers to continue to work if they so choose. Like its partner policy idea listed above, this has been put into proper legislative language and is also ready to move forward given the opportunity! At the time of writing, the chief Social Security actuary agreed to cull and analyze data needed to re-approach House Social Security subcommittee of Ways and Means for further consideration.

The ABLE Act: The Same Barriers Block Our Way Forward!

In 2018, the ABLE Act still continues to be an important policy priority for NCIL. Over 45 states have opted to enable ABLE legislation with many (33 at last count) actively launching programs. Other states are having ABLE legislation heard in their own statehouses in 2018.

In previous years, it was NCIL’s preference that the three policy enhancements listed below should be considered a “package” and it was NCIL’s desire to see all three passed together. However, this idea has been largely ignored by elected officials. At the date of this drafting, a version of the ABLE-to-Work Act and the Financial Planning Act have been included in and passed with the Tax Cuts and Jobs bill, becoming law (PL 115-97) in December 2017. Also included in Public Law 115-97 was a provision to allow contributions to ABLE Act accounts to qualify for the Federal Retirement Tax Credit. The Age Adjustment Act was NOT included due to cost.

The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (H.R. 1874 and S. 817) would raise the age limit for eligibility for ABLE accounts to individuals disabled before age 46 (current legislation limit is age 26.) Introduced April 4, 2017 by Representative Tony Cardenas (D-CA) it was referred first to House Ways and Means and then to the Committee on Finance. It has 28 co-sponsors but has experienced the same reticence from elected officials as in years past. Thus, NCIL’s advocacy efforts in this regard continue to be substantial in order to see it to fruition.

The ABLE to Work Act (H.R. 1896 and S. 818) builds on the success of the ABLE Act by making it possible for individuals with disabilities to increase their ABLE accounts in various ways. This will encourage individuals to work without impacting their Federal benefits or current ABLE accounts. Introduced by Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) on April 4, 2017, this legislation would allow individuals and families to save more money in an ABLE account if the beneficiary works and earns income. With 47 co-sponsors, it was first referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, then to the Committee on Finance, and was placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar No. 269 in November 2017. Incorporated into the tax bill, it became Public Law 115-97 in December 2017, though it included language which was opposed by some disability groups, including NCIL, as confusing and likely to discourage employment rather than encourage it.

The ABLE Financial Planning Act (H.R. 1897 and S. 1) will allow families to rollover savings from a Section 529 college savings plan, penalty-free, to an ABLE account. H.R. 1897 was introduced April 4, 2017 by Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) and first referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, then to the Committee on Finance, and placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar No. 269 in November 2017. Incorporated into the tax bill, it became Public Law 115-97 in December 2017.

Eliminating Subminimum Wages: The TIME Act

In 2018, the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act still commands considerable interest by NCIL, Congress, DOL, and a myriad of advocacy groups across the nation.

H.R. 1377 was introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) on March 7, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Since then little has been done in its regard.

As in 2017, what 2018 will bring for TIME remains to be seen, though NCIL and the 17 co-sponsors of the Act continue to direct Congress and the Secretary of Labor to discontinue issuing to any new profit, non-profit, or governmental entity special wage certificates (which permit individuals with disabilities, including individuals employed in agriculture, to be paid at lower than minimum wages). This bill requires a three-year phase-out of all certificates.

The CareerACCESS Policy Initiative

NCIL continues to strongly support CareerACCESS pilot projects in at least two states. CareerACCESS remains a ready model for assisting young adults on SSI to make the successful transition from benefits to building careers. To focus more on the program elements of the CareerACCESS initiative, the project has expanded within a broader effort called WID E3 (, an employment and economic empowerment strategy. The shift was in part due to funding challenges in launching the pilot projects. Vermont continues to be the lead state in such a potential collaboration, which would not necessarily rely upon federal funding. NCIL, its members, and the Americans we work with and for can move closer to the middle class and true economic integration with these economic policies and laws in place!

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Updated: March 5, 2018.