Position of the Disability Community:
People with disabilities want to work, and their ability to get and keep jobs must be protected through enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employment programs and supports must be expanded to ensure opportunities for people with disabilities to work in competitive and integrated work environments.
If public officials want the disability vote:
Oppose cuts to Medicaid and support expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Medicaid provides home and community-based services that help people live and work in the community. Cuts to Medicaid would cause people to lose the services that help them work, including personal care to help them get dressed and ready for work, transportation to work, and on-the-job supports. Expanding eligibility for Medicaid will also help more people work. More states should replicate successful Medicaid Buy-In programs, which allow people with disabilities to work and earn money without losing access to critical home and community-based services. Medicaid expansion, through the Affordable Care Act, has also helped millions of working people with disabilities obtain affordable, nondiscriminatory health care coverage.
Oppose efforts to weaken or make cuts to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds employment and training programs across the U.S., which help people with disabilities secure and retain work in competitive and integrated environments. Oppose any efforts by Congress and the Department of Education to weaken the definition of competitive integrated employment in the statute and rules.
Support the continuation and use of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers who hire and retain veterans and individuals from other target groups with significant barriers to employment, including people with disabilities.
Oppose allowing companies to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages.
The U.S. Department of Labor, under the 14c waiver, is able to certify certain employers to pay wages less than the federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities. This discriminatory practice keeps people with disabilities from reaching their vocational and socio-economic potential. Congress should support the Transition to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act (Time Act) so that 14c waivers can be phased out responsibly over a three-year period as well as the Raise the Wage bill, which would end the ability of employers to pay subminimum wage to people with disabilities.
Support greater enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the federal sector. Federal agencies have a 12% representation goal for individuals with disabilities and 2% for individuals with targeted disabilities.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits employers with federal contracts (or subcontracts) from discriminating against applicants and employees with disabilities and requires affirmative steps to hire, retain, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. Updates to Section 503 set a 7% representation goal for people with disabilities. Resources must be made available to reach this goal and for the ongoing enforcement of Section 503. More information can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Section 508 requires federal agencies’ information and communications technology to be accessible to people with disabilities. While Section 508 only applies to federal agencies, many private employers have adapted its standards as a way to ensure their technology infrastructure is accessible. The U.S. Access Board issued a final rule in 2017 that updated requirements for technology under 508. Federal agencies must stay current with accessibility, and private companies must be encouraged to adopt accessibility practices.
Support eliminating work disincentives and the Social Security income limit.
The Social Security Administration puts a limit on the amount of money that an individual can earn through work when he/she receives Social Security disability benefits. This extremely low limit often creates and perpetuates people with disabilities living at, or under, the poverty level. In addition, it can inhibit them from taking higher paying positions within the workforce as they do not want to, or cannot, risk the loss of their disability benefits.
Support adequate funding for transition planning for young people with disabilities.
Transitioning young people with disabilities from school to the adult world requires careful planning and a cooperative effort among families, school staff, and community service providers. A transition plan should focus on career development, employment preparation, and community integration through work-based learning, functional academics, and life skills experiences. With adequate support and planning, the transition to the workforce can be positive and employment should be seen as one important destination on their road to independence.
Support a National Paid Family Medical Leave Plan that promotes the health and economic well-being of people with disabilities and their families.
The United States is the only industrialized nation with no national paid family and medical leave plan. This hurts people with disabilities disproportionately more than non-disabled individuals because workers with disabilities tend to work in part time and low wage jobs that do not offer paid leave. While some states have enacted leave plans, part time and low wage workers are typically exempt. The family leave plan proposed by the White House does not include provisions for individuals caring for family members with disabilities, or those who have personal medical issues.
Support the Transition to Independence Act of 2018.
The Transition to Independence Act of 2018 (H.R. 4931) would create a demonstration program, within which states will receive bonus payments from the federal government for achieving increases in the number of people with disabilities in competitive integrated employment and reducing the number of people with disabilities in segregated sheltered workshop and facility based day habilitation settings.
Oppose work requirements for eligibility to federal programs, including housing subsidies, food stamps, and Medicaid.
Recent proposals have included work or community service requirements for people accessing government supports. These proposals would harm people with disabilities by creating additional barriers to securing the supports needed for independent living. Taking away services because of an inability to find work should not be a penalty for low-income and middle-income individuals and families, including those with disabilities. Imposing work requirements unacceptably jeopardizes necessary health coverage for people with disabilities.
Support the employment of veterans with significant disabilities.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently shows workforce participation of veterans with the most significant disabilities lagging behind their veteran counterparts without disabilities. Federal contractors are obligated under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) to recruit and hire targeted veterans – including those with disabilities. The Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) directs Disabled Veterans Outreach Personnel (DVOP) through America’s Job Centers. DOL resources for enforcement of and attention to VEVRAA and DVOPs could be another recommendation.
Support implementation of the ABLE Act and bills to expand ABLE.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows individuals with disabilities to save money in a special account for the purpose of covering disability-related expenses. The resources in an individual’s ABLE account are not considered for eligibility for means-tested programs, like Medicaid. ABLE accounts help people with disabilities work and save, without losing access to critical healthcare services through Medicaid due to Medicaid’s asset limitations. The ABLE National Resource Center provides information on states that are currently implementing the law. Support bills that expand ABLE, including the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S.817/H.R.1874) that would expand the benefits of ABLE to even more people with disabilities.
Additional Information and Resources:
- Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – Bureau of Labor Statistics
- NCIL Policy on Employment and Equity: Overview – National Council on Independent Living
- Job Accommodation Network
- Rehabilitation Services Administration
- US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Raise the Wage Act of 2017 will Eliminate Subminimum Wages for People with Disabilities – National Council on Independent Living
- Work Requirements for Medicaid Don’t Work for People with Disabilities – The Arc
- Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities – National Federation of the Blind
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), US Department of Labor
- ABLE National Resource Center
- Final Report – Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities
The Employment section of the 2018 REV UP Issues Guide was published on June 25, 2018 and last updated on June 25, 2018. AAPD will do it’s best to keep this guide up-to-date as Executive and Legislative changes happen; however, we recommend double-checking Congress.gov, WhiteHouse.gov, or Google for the latest updates.