Today the Administration released its request for funding for the federal government. In the budget request, the Administration outlines priorities for federal spending. The budget request would eliminate the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester and invest in education, employment, transportation, and other spending on programs that help all people including people with disabilities.
The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget, for the first time, includes a rebalancing of Social Security’s trust funds, to put both on sound footing until 2033. Rebalancing is necessary to ensure that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can pay full scheduled benefits after 2016. Unless Congress acts, after 2016, Social Security’s disability fund reserves will be depleted and SSDI would only be able to pay about 80 percent of promised benefits, based on incoming payroll taxes. The Arc and many other groups strongly support rebalancing the funds, to ensure that Social Security can keep its promise both to the 11 million current SSDI beneficiaries and to the 165 million workers and their families who today pay into Social Security and who may need SSDI in the future. The budget also includes a proposal that The Arc strongly opposes, to reduce benefits for individuals who receive both SSDI and Unemployment Insurance after attempting work but losing their job through no fault of their own. Finally, the budget includes a number of positive proposals for the Social Security Administration to strengthen its customer service and administrative capacity, and to research ways to help workers with disabilities remain in the workforce.
The Budget Request includes funding for proposals to expand access to home and community based services including increased funding for the Money Follows the Person demonstration, a proposal to give states the option to expand eligibility for the Community First Choice and 1915(i) home and community-based state plan options. Additionally, the Budget Request would allow a pilot for up to five states to test a long-term supports and services state plan option. We will continue to report on these programs as more details become available. The Budget Request also includes a four year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The President’s Budget Request also includes proposals for how to pay for the health care changes which may be problematic including proposals to create cost-savings in the prescription drug area, cuts to Medicare providers, and some limited increases in cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries.
Other highlights from the budget request affecting people with I/DD include:
- An increase of $56.7 million in funding for the Vocational Rehabilitation state grant program;
- An increase of $115 million for early intervention and pre-school services for children with disabilities;
- A new initiative to help young people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities transition in community living, health, education, and employment; and
- $25 million in additional funding to create approximately 700 new units of integrated, affordable housing for people with disabilities under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities project rental assistance program.
The Arc will do a more detailed analysis of the President’s Budget Request as the Administration releases further details about the budget proposals. The release of the President’s Budget Request is one of the first steps in the annual budget and appropriations process. Congress will review the spending requests for the federal agencies and proceed with developing a budget resolution and appropriations bills that reflect their own priorities.