The Obama Administration submitted its Budget Request for FY 2016 to Congress on February 2. This document signals administration’s priorities but does not have the force of law. While most disability-related programs were generally level funded, it included a number of increases for specific programs. A few of the highlights for the disability community are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Continue paying full benefits beyond 2016 by replenishing the trust fund through reallocation of payroll tax collections between the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund and the Old-Age, Survivors (OASI) Trust Fund, as has been done many times before.
- Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): An increase of $56.7 million in funding for the VR state grant program (but only 1.7%);
- Early intervention: An increase of $115 million for early intervention and pre-school services; and
- Housing: $25 million in additional funding to create approximately 700 new units of Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
The next step in the budget and appropriations process is for the House and Senate to develop their own overall budget proposals, taking the President’s Budget Request into consideration. The Arc and other advocates will be working to ensure that Members of Congress understand the importance of these and other programs as they begin to develop individual funding bills over the spring and summer. See a spreadsheet of proposed funding amounts for disability-related programs.