the advocacy monitor

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

Employment & Social Security

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!

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

The Future of Employment of People with Disabilities

By Melissa Carney, NCIL Policy Intern

From a very young age, we are taught that the main focal points of our lives are education, employment, extracurricular involvement, and continuous self-growth. We are pushed to receive stellar grades so that we may land the perfect job, or climb a metaphorical ladder until we obtain success. We are expected to put the money we earn towards our future endeavors, whether that be housing, transportation, insurance, or food on the table. If you cannot meet certain societal standards, you are often thought as lazy or unproductive. However, what many fail to realize is that there are systematic barriers in place that infringe upon one’s ability to secure employment, particularly in regards to people with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65.7 percent of nondisabled people are employed, while only 18.7% of people with disabilities are employed in 2018. Why is this the case? Don’t certain laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act level the playing field and prohibit discrimination?

While the above laws have granted people with disabilities copious opportunities to receive adequate education, prioritized accessibility, accommodations, and greater participation in the workforce as a whole, the lack of supported education to career paths, accessible professions, and segregated employment continue to hinder those with disabilities. It is not enough for people with disabilities to be employed out of a set of federal guidelines or pity; greater quality should be ensured as well. There is a common misconception that people with disabilities are not able to compete as equally in the workforce as their nondisabled peers due to the extra support they may require. For this reason, thousands of people with disabilities are placed into sheltered workshops. These workshops support segregation and subminimum wages. Pay rate is often based on how much an individual is able to produce per hour, which discriminates against those who require accommodations or slower working speeds. Some receive only a handful of pennies per hour.

[Read more…]

Sign on to Support the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act by COB Today!

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (S. 260 and H.R. 873) has been introduced in Congress by Senators Casey and Van Hollen and 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.

If your organization is interested in signing on in support, below is a link for state level organizations and affiliates to use to sign on. We’re sorry for the short notice, but signatures must be received by close of business today, February 19, 2019.

Read the previous version of the letter signed on by national organizations (PDF), including NCIL, and add your organization as a signatory.

An Update from the NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee

By Sam Liss and James Turner, Subcommittee Co-Chairs

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee has been meeting regularly, on a monthly basis, with consistently good attendance. Sam Liss, Subcommittee Co-Chair presented at the NCIL’s 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living on behalf of the Subcommittee’s legislative priorities. The presentation was well-received and several attendees expressed interest in joining the Subcommittee, although none have yet followed through.

Our Subcommittee’s first priority appears to be moving forward significantly. We have commitments for Congressional sponsorship, in both House and Senate, for our two policy proposals to eliminate employment disincentives for people with disabilities at / beyond retirement age. Congressman Welch (Vermont) and Senator Casey (Pennsylvania), have agreed to introduce both of our proposals as a stand-alone bill. Indeed, Congressman Welch has requested an event in Vermont to announce his introduction of the House bill.  [Read more…]

California, North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York: Paid Family and Medical Leave and Disability Study

Columbia University and The Arc are doing a study on paid family and medical leave with people affected by disabilities and need your help. For the study, they’d like to interview workers with disabilities and those who provide support to a friend or family member with a disability in California, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina. They plan to conduct remote, one-on-one interviews by phone, web conference, or email to look at how paid family and medical leave programs can work better for them.

Can you help us recruit people who:

  1. Work in California, New Jersey, New York, or North Carolina or have worked in these states in the past 2 years, AND
  2. Have a disability OR provide support to a friend or a family member with a disability?

Interested people can call 929-900-5398 or email paidleavestudy@outlook.com with ‘The Arc’ in the subject line.

Anyone who is eligible and completes an interview will receive a $20 gift card.  [Read more…]

Survey for Legal Professionals: Understanding Workplace Experiences

Legal professionals are invited to participate in a first-of-its-kind project aimed at better understanding the workplace experiences of today’s legal professionals.

The research project examines the opportunities and challenges facing individuals in the legal profession of the 21st century, with consideration of women, minorities, people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities, people with disabilities, and others. The American Bar Association is partnering with the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University on this study.

The 15-minute survey is anonymous and voluntary. It is approved by the Syracuse University Human Subjects Review Board. The findings will be used to help develop best practices in the legal profession.

[Read more…]