Bipartisan Congressional Group Formed to Prioritize Policies Increasing Employment Opportunities For Individuals With Developmental Disabilities

Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that they have formed a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers called the Bipartisan House Working Group on Employing People with Disabilities in an effort to promote policies aimed at increasing employment among people with developmental 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.  The founding members of the group are Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash,  Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.

According to Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who has a son with Down syndrome, ““Many people with disabilities have dreams of working and living successful, independent lives, but too often our laws and regulations create barriers to entry. 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.”

According to Representative Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., “This bipartisan initiative will bring needed attention to the obstacles that Americans with disabilities face in their day-to-day lives. 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help open the door to opportunities for these individuals, and I am proud to be part of an effort to fight against outdated laws that hold disabled workers back from the competitive jobs and benefits they deserve.”

One example of current barriers to employment for individuals with Developmental Disabilities is the risk of  losing access to Medicaid, Social Security and other government benefits if they earn too much money each month.  While 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, the working group members say they are hoping to  identify additional legislative tweaks that can similarly encourage people with disabilities to live up to their potential.

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.

Source for the article: “Congressional Group Prioritizing Disability Employment” by Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, October 6, 2017