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

NCIL Employment/Social Security Subcommittee Gains Momentum

By: Sam Liss and James Turner, NCIL Employment/Social Security Subcommittee Co-Chairs

NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee Co-Chairs James Turner and Sam Liss are pleased to acknowledge that participation in NCIL’s Employment/Social Security Subcommittee seems to be gaining momentum over the previous few months. Fortuitously, this comes at a time when the Subcommittee is tackling many important issues within its purview. In conjunction with heightened interest, the Co-Chairs are asking members of the Subcommittee to assume leadership on particular issues.

At this time, the Subcommittee is heartened and encouraged because its two policy proposals, arising from its Medicaid Buy-in (MBI) Task Force, appear to be gaining traction within Congress: the Subcommittee was granted a ½ hour teleconference by the House Social Security Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee. Staffers asked critical questions about the Childhood Disability Beneficiary (CDB) proposal and requested follow up. The other proposal, regarding changing MBI authorization language in the Ticket-to-Work/Work Incentive Improvement Act, was referred to House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which holds jurisdiction.  Approaches to key members of Congress in both parties are under way. Both policy proposals would enhance employment incentives for those people with disabilities at retirement age. 

The Subcommittee also recently heard a presentation from Chris Rodriguez, Director of the ABLE National Resource Center and of Public Policy for the National Disability Institute, on progress on ABLE account rollouts and pending ABLE legislation. The Subcommittee has made these issue(s) a priority going forward.

Also high on the Subcommittee’s agenda is the CareerACCESS project as it moves forward. The Subcommittee has recently renewed its interest in this important initiative and is working with the World Institute on Disability (WID) and PolicyWorks to examine new emphases and directions. Subcommittee member and newly appointed WID staffer dedicated to CareerACCESS, Nicholas Love, will keep the Subcommittee up-to-date on progress.

In addition to the above topics, the Subcommittee has also designated the TIME (Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment) Act a priority. Although stalled in Congress at present, the TIME Act highlights the important issues for the disability community of sheltered workshops and subminimum wages and has sparked a constructive dialogue.

The Subcommittee is also following the timely course within Congress of H.R. 2792, which would strip SSI benefits from those beneficiaries with outstanding felony warrants and parole/probation violations. The general feeling among the disability community is that such an initiative is misguided – despite its rationale as a “pay-for” for the reauthorization of a worthy human services program.

Tax reform proposals as they related to disability and employment (such as those being offered by the Consortium of citizens with Disabilities – CCD) are also being followed closely with concern and due consideration.

Finally, the Subcommittee has made note of the re-introduction of the SSI Restoration Act and of heightening concerns regarding long delays for consideration of SSDI applications – initially as well as upon appeal. The SSI Restoration Act, intended to update the SSI benefit structure, may not gain traction in the current Congress, however critical its need at this time. Also of critical note are the unacceptable delays upon application for SSDI and, accordingly, the Subcommittee has been guiding appropriate responses to the situation, responses which emphasize rightful concern and the need for remedial action.

In summary, James and Sam and the entire now-fortified Subcommittee are working diligently for NCIL to ensure that issues within its purview are given due time and consideration and that appropriate actions are taken if and when they are required to benefit the disability community.


  1. my name is Teresa Grimes and I am a behavior analysts and teacher working with individuals with disabilities. Many of my long time clients are now transitioning into adulthood. I am beginning my journey to learn what is out there for my guys and future employment. I am shocked at what I did not know, there seems to be help on the way!
    I am taking a course with a group called Picasso/Einstein and the #JobCreators Movement to help me learn how to prepare my clients to full employment. There are still many obstacles regarding transportation, mentors, internships, etc. I am going to try to look up the initiatives you referred to in the above update. Any other groups/projects on the horizon?