NCD Progress Report 2023: Income and Assets Limitations Imposed by the Federal Government on People with Disabilities: A Way Forward

Background and Statement of ProblemThe economic health of people with disabilities is, at best, abysmal.

They are twice as likely to be unemployed and living in poverty as any other group in America.

People with disabilities often face economic barriers that prevent them from realizing


a path to self-sufficiency and, unfortunately, sometimes well-meaning government programs, that have not kept up with current disability law and trends, have contributed to this problem.One of the most difficult barriers to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities is government-imposed limitations on earnings and assets for a person with disabilities, which if exceeded, triggers a loss or curtailment of a person’s benefits, including critically needed support home and community-based services.The fear of the loss of benefits, which is often referred to as the “income cliff,” causes many people with disabilities to avoid competitive integrated employment and if they are employed in an integrated setting they often work a minimal number of hours to ensure that they do not exceed the earnings limits that would trigger a loss of their benefits.

This then means that people with disabilities are unlikely to be eligible for (or if eligible, may forego) any type of promotions, job growth or job security that can lead to greater income and a better potential economic future.Asset and income limitations under certain federal programs – safety net programs – can be a detriment to people with disabilities.

Are asset and income limitations saving taxpayer dollars or losing more revenue and economic stimulation for the U. S. economy? How do those limitation advance the attainment of economic security for people with disabilities?Statement of Work NCD’s 2023 Progress Report will determine what reforms to government-imposed income and asset barriers under federal safety net programs are necessary to help achieve economic security for people with disabilities.

The following queries will be addressed:• Do the asset and income limitations create a greater dependency on the safety net programs?• Are there reforms to the asset and income limitations in safety net programs that can advance the purpose for which they were established and simultaneously foster economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities? • What policy options might be put in place to encourage employment without the fear of losing needed long-term health benefits?• What are the successes and deficiencies associated with Ticket to Work and similar programs? What can be done to improve and work toward desired outcomes?• Which recommendations from NCD’s previous reports and papers on this issue have been implemented? Which have not been implemented but are still valid recommendations? The contractor will be expected to review NCD’s previous reports on this subject and update the recommendations to reflect current initiatives.To address these queries, federal safety net programs will be reviewed, states’ administration and implementation of those programs will be reviewed, a current understanding of wages earned by people with disabilities compared to those without will be presented and compared to the available information provided by labor agencies regarding hourly wages, and average salaries at the entry, middle management, and senior management levels.

The contractor will hold one or more virtual convenings, which will include the development of an invitee list and agenda and will ensure key stakeholders are invested in the project and able to provide meaningful and timely input.

Stakeholders may include, but are not limited to, disability organizations that have conducted work on the report topic and people with disabilities who have experienced the barriers in question.

Interviews with key stakeholders will be held.

With this information, an analysis will be provided whereby it is apparent at what point it becomes more advantageous for an individual to pursue competitive employment beyond the benefits provided by the states.

Office: National Council on Disability

Estimated Funding: $150,000

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