Budget – Senate to Hold Hearing on Social Security Disability Trust Fund
On Wednesday, February 11th, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a
hearing on “The Coming Crisis: Social Security Disability Trust Fund Insolvency”.
Social Security Disability Insurance was created in 1956 to provide financial
assistance to people who are unable to work due to disability or health issues.
Witnesses at the hearing will include: Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of
Social Security, Social Security Administration; Dr. Mark Duggan, Wayne and Jodi
Cooperman Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Dr. Philip de Jong,
Professor of Economics, University of Amsterdam – Amsterdam School of
Economics; and Kate Lang, Staff Attorney, National Senior Citizens Law Center.
Visit the Committee website to learn more and to view live video on the day of the
Health Care – Open Enrollment for Health Plans Ends February 15th
Open enrollment for health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act
ends February 15. This is an opportunity for people who do not have health
insurance to purchase it. There is also help with paying the costs of health
insurance for low and moderate income individuals. To learn more about what is
available in your state visit the health care website.
Medicaid – Tax Exempted Waiver Payments
Recently, The Arc became aware of an IRS Bulletin (2014-4) as well as an
accompanying Q&A clarification document which, as of January 3, 2014 under IRS
Code §131, allow payments to qualified Medicaid waiver providers to be excluded
from gross income tax for reporting purposes. The clarification document states, in
part, “… the IRS will treat ‘qualified Medicaid waiver payments’ as difficulty of care
payments excludable from gross income under § 131 of the Internal Revenue Code.
For purposes of the notice, qualified Medicaid waiver payments are payments by a
state, a political subdivision of a state, or a certified Medicaid provider under a
Medicaid waiver program to an individual care provider for nonmedical support
services provided under a plan of care to an individual (whether related or unrelated)
living in the individual care provider’s home.” The Arc is seeking further clarification
from the Internal Revenue Service and will share additional information accordingly.
Major Events Last Week
Education – House Education Bill Introduced
Last week, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline
(R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee
Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced legislation to replace No Child Left Behind.
The bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) would amend the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and makes numerous changes to the law that give
states more flexibility in the accountability systems and the alternative assessments.
The bill consolidates a number of programs and removes the maintenance of effort
provisions that ensure that states and local areas do not cut their funding and
continue to receive federal funds. The House Education and Workforce Committee
is expected to move quickly on this legislation. Disability advocates oppose this bill
and urge the House and Senate to work with the disability community to include
provisions to provide meaningful access to rigorous standards for all students and
fully include students with disabilities in the education system.
Social Security / Employment – Bill Introduced to Cut Concurrent Social
Security Disability Insurance & Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Last week, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced S.343, the “Reducing Overlapping Payments Act”; the bill was referred to the
Committee on Finance. The bill would zero out Social Security Disability Insurance
(SSDI) benefits in any month in which a SSDI beneficiary also receives
Unemployment Insurance (UI) (such as, after attempting to work but losing their job
through no fault of their own and therefore qualifying for UI). The Arc strongly
opposes cuts to SSDI benefits, including cuts to concurrent SSDI and UI benefits.
As noted i n a fact sheet by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, SSDI and
UI are separate programs established for different purposes; receipt of concurrent
SSDI and UI benefits, while rare, is both legal and appropriate. Cutting these
benefits would harm the economic security of SSDI beneficiaries and their families,
single out SSDI beneficiaries and treat them differently from other workers under
the UI program, create disincentives to work for SSDI beneficiaries, and cut Social
Security to pay for an unrelated program. The Arc strongly opposes S. 343 and
Employment – White House Summit on Disability and Employment
Last week, staff from The Arc of the United States attended the White House
Summit on Disability and Employment hosted by the White House Domestic Policy
Council and the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative. Attendees included
representatives from several of the nation’s business, philanthropic, and disability
advocacy communities and had the opportunity to hear from representatives from
Lowe’s, AT&T, Starbucks, United Technologies, and the Department of Labor’s
Office of Disability and Employment Policy on strategies for hiring and recruiting
individuals with disabilities. Additionally, federal re sources were shared for
employers and job seekers, including a Resource Guide for Employers. Several
members of the Administration addressed participants including Secretary of Labor
Tom Perez, and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett. Cecilia Muñoz,
Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, contributed
a blog post about the event.
AnnouncementsDisability Policy Seminar – Get Involved and Get the Facts
The Disability Policy Seminar is taking place April 13th- 15th, in Washington, D.C.,
at a new location – Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel. Come and be
a part of the solution by registering today! Early bird registration and discounted
pricing ends March 13th. With so many powerful advocates in Congress moving on,
it is time for the next generation to step up and make a stand. B udget cuts are
already threatening to severely limit, or in some instances, completely cut disability
benefits through Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability Insurance.
Disability policy is at a crucial turning point. In order to prevent these drastic cuts and
program eliminations, we must band together and put a face on Disability issues and
show Congress how destructive their actions can be.
Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers
on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental
Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
(NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)
Promotional Support Provided by: Sibling Leadership Network as well as AAPD
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423