Congressional Group Prioritizing Disability Employment
A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is coming together in an effort to promote policies aimed at increasing employment among people with developmental disabilities.
Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives said this week that they are launching the Bipartisan House Working Group on Employing People with Disabilities.
The group will work to identify polices and regulations that could be established or changed to make it easier for people in this population to enter the workforce.
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“Many people with disabilities have dreams of working and living successful, independent lives, but too often our laws and regulations create barriers to entry,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who has a son with Down syndrome. “Our bipartisan working group examines how we can change our system of laws and regulations so that people with disabilities, like my son, Cole, have the same opportunities as everyone else to work and have a better life.”
Traditionally, people with disabilities have risked losing access to Medicaid, Social Security and other government benefits if they earn too much money each month. That is starting to change with the implementation of a 2014 law that allows individuals with disabilities to open ABLE Accounts where they can accrue up to $14,000 per year without jeopardizing eligibility for government supports.
Lawmakers who are part of the new working group say they’re hoping to identify additional legislative tweaks that can similarly encourage people with disabilities to live up to their potential.
“This bipartisan initiative will bring needed attention to the obstacles that Americans with disabilities face in their day-to-day lives,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. “Congress should help open the door to opportunities for these individuals, and I am proud to be part of an effort to fight against outdated laws that hold disabled workers back from the competitive jobs and benefits they deserve.”
Other founding members of the working group include Reps. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.
The effort coincides with the introduction of a new public awareness campaign from the National Down Syndrome Society. Dubbed “Law Syndrome,” the campaign produced by the creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York highlights the many ways that current Medicaid eligibility standards and other policies hamper independence for those with the chromosomal disorder.