Last week, the White House released a report, Social Security Disability Insurance: A Lifeline for Millions of American Workers and Their Families. The report describes how SSDI insures nearly all American workers and their families, the important role that benefits play in the lives of nearly 11 million current beneficiaries, changes in SSDI over time, and action needed to protect workers and ensure SSDI solvency. As noted in the report: “In 2016, SSDI beneficiaries could face a deep and abrupt 19 percent reduction in their disability insurance benefits if lawmakers fail to act to remedy a long-projected shortfall in the program’s finances.” President Obama has recommended rebalancing existing Social Security payroll taxes to ensure SSDI’s solvency through 2033 (on an even path with the rest of the Social Security system). The Arc strongly supports this common-sense solution, which Congress has taken numerous times in the past. Visit the White House web site to view the full report.
The White House is seeking nominations for “Champions of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations”. This award recognizes individuals who have spent many years advocating for disability rights as well as dedicated young self-advocates. This event coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nominations are due midnight Thursday, June 18. Nominate an individual and select “Americans with Disabilities Act” as the Theme of Service.
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 resources 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.
Workplace policies are critical to promoting employment and work-family balance for both people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and for family caregivers of children and adults with I/DD. There are approximately 2.9 million family caregivers of persons with I/DD in the U.S. According to The Arc’s Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) survey, most of these family caregivers provide more than 40 hours of care per week which can create significant employment barriers for caregivers. Today the White House is hosting a summit to learn about how the workplace can better support working families. For example, workplace policies that offer greater flexibility—such as the ability to adjust work hours, work from home, or have a predictable shift schedule—can play an important role in enabling workers to handle both their work and family responsibilities. It is critical that the disability community be heard in this national conversation. Share how your family would benefit from 21st-century workplace policies.
In order to keep the public informed about various disability issues the White House has been hosting monthly calls. To learn about future calls, request to be added to the White House Disability email distribution list, by visiting the White House website. The next call will be this week on February 29.
These calls are open to the public and offer a unique opportunity to hear about important disability issues from individuals who work in the Federal government. You can also submit questions before the call at disability.gov.
To participate in this week’s call see the information below:
- Date of Call: 2/29/2012
- Start Time: 3:00 p.m. EST (dial in 5 minutes early)
- Dial in: (800) 230-1766
- Code: “White House Monthly Disability Call”
Last week, 150 leaders of The Arc from across the country met with a variety of senior White House officials at a Community Leaders Briefing to ask questions and discuss issues facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The session, held just for The Arc, included an unannounced visit from President Barack Obama. The President spoke of his commitment to people with disabilities saying, “I’ve got your back.” To watch President Obama’s remarks visit the White House YouTube page.
Another unannounced speaker was White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who reiterated the President’s opposition to turning Medicaid into a block grant.
The day was organized by Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, who kicked off the agenda by welcoming guests and speaking about employment issues. The Arc heard from Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who spoke of their commitment to providing services and supports to all in need. Other speakers included Carol Galante, Acting Assistant Secretary – Federal Housing Administration Commissioner, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Robert Gordon, Executive Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget; and Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Department of Justice.
This April, there will be additional opportunities to engage with disability policy experts in Washington, DC during the 2012 Disability Policy Seminar. Come together with other advocates, learn about the issues, and speak with your elected officials about what is important to you. Take advantage of special early registration and hotel rates available until March 20.
The White House Office of Public Engagement announced that they are resuming their monthly disability calls on January 18, 2012. These calls aim to keep members of the disability community informed of White House initiatives and to introduce Federal government employees who work on disability issues.
Anyone is welcome to join the email list, by visiting the website here and filling out the contact us form, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and providing your full name, city, state, and organization. The calls will address questions and issues raised through disability.gov.
On Thursday, December 1st, eleven Native American Youth leaders will be honored at the White House as Champions of Change. These young people are Champions in their tribes and communities. They have each worked to improve the lives of those around them through innovative programs that help others.
One of the honorees, Morgan Fawcett, was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) when he was 15 years old. Morgan decided that he wanted to educate individuals across the country about FASD. Morgan has organized concerts and benefits that allow to him to speak about FASD at school assemblies, colleges, community colleges, hospitals, churches and many more. Morgan hopes to begin college this year and show others that just because you are born with a disability, with help from friends, family, and the community you can succeed.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.
The next White House Disability call is Wednesday July 27th at 1:00 pm. The call will feature information on technology, Section 508 of the Rehab Act, independent agencies, emergency preparedness, employment, budgetary issues, and other topics. To join the call, dial in to (866) 298-7926 and say White House Disability Call (instead of a code).
Last Wednesday, families from West Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia joined The Arc at a meeting with Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor, John Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President, Jeff Crowley, Senior Advisor on Disability Policy, and Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President to discuss the impact on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) if deep Medicaid cuts are included in a budget deal. As President Obama continues to engage in deficit reduction talks, The Arc and its members are calling on Congress and the White House to keep Medicaid and programs that support those with I/DD intact.