Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities
The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.
The President believes we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He is focused on addressing three fundamental questions: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? The Budget presents the President’s plan to address each of these questions.
To make America once again a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing and innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure, while cutting red tape to help businesses grow. To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education from pre-school to job training. To ensure hard work is rewarded, it raises the minimum wage to $9 an hour so a hard day’s work pays more.
The Budget does all of these things as part of a comprehensive plan that reduces the deficit and puts the Nation on a sound fiscal course. Every new initiative in the plan is fully paid for, so they do not add a single dime to the deficit. The Budget also incorporates the President’s compromise offer to House Speaker Boehner to achieve another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way. When combined with the deficit reduction already achieved, this will allow us to exceed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, while growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. By including this compromise proposal in the Budget, the President is demonstrating his willingness to make tough choices and his seriousness about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit.
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To expand opportunities for people with disabilities, the 2014 Budget will:
Maintain Funding for the Education of Children with Disabilities. The Budget sustains the Department of Education’s commitment to supporting education for students with disabilities, providing $11.6 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Grants to States to provide a high quality education and help offset State and local education costs for children with disabilities.
Support IDEA Infants and Families. The Budget also provides a $20 million, or 5 percent, increase for the IDEA Infants and Families Program to provide the youngest children a strong start in life.
Improve Services for Children with Disabilities. The Budget supports the continued implementation of the interagency Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE) pilot, initiated in 2012. The Department of Education and Social Security Administration, in consultation with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, will provide competitive grants to test and evaluate interventions that successfully improve child and family outcomes and reduce the need for children to remain in the SSI program.
Provide Funding for Processing Social Security Claims and Beneficiary Services. The Budget allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to complete 2.9 million initial disability claims and over 800,000 disability appeal hearings and it allows SSA to process a record level of retirement claims, serving all 5.4 million people who are projected to apply for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance. With the resources provided in the Budget, SSA would also be able to reopen field offices for half of the time that they are currently closed to the public— allowing the agency’s field offices to provide in-person service an additional three hours per week.
Test New Ways to Boost Employment. The Budget calls for providing the Social Security Administration and partner agencies to test innovative techniques to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce. These measures have the potential to achieve long-term improvements in the employment and the quality of life of people with disabilities, while reducing Government expenditures on income support. In addition, the Budget also proposes reauthorization of SSA's demonstration authority for the Disability Insurance (DI) program, allowing SSA to continue to test effective ways to boost employment and support current DI and SSI beneficiaries who are seeking to return to work.
Encourage Innovation to Improve Outcomes for People with Disabilities. The Budget seeks the authority for the Department of Education to establish a Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) with unused Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant funds. The DIF would support innovative activities aimed at improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Of the total amount of Vocational Rehabilitation funds that remain available at the end of fiscal year 2014, the Administration proposes to set aside $5 million to support projects designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth with disabilities. The balance of funds would be used to improve services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities in the workforce system and support the PROMISE pilot. In addition, the Administration seeks the authority to use up to $20 million of the funds for innovative activities to support Pay for Success awards, a multi-agency productivity initiative designed to employ "pay for performance" models to drive better results and greater cost-efficiency from Federal investments.
Improve Effectiveness of Disability Programs. The Administration continues to look for ways to better coordinate services and improve outcomes for people with disabilities. Since 2012, the Departments of Education and Labor have instituted a formal process to review current investments, plan future ones, and share information about common goals and grantees. These activities are intended to advance to more frequent joint grant solicitations, reduce duplication, and ensure the best use of limited funding with an eye towards improving outcomes for people with disabilities.
Support Workers with Disabilities. The Budget provides $18 million to the Department of Labor for the Disability Employment Initiative, which awards grants to build the capacity of One-Stop Career Centers to serve individuals with disabilities.
Support Disability Research. The Budget provides $110 million, a $1 million increase over the 2012 enacted level, for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). NIDRR conducts comprehensive and coordinated programs of research and related activities to maximize the full inclusion, social integration, employment, and independent living opportunities of individuals with disabilities of all ages. NIDRR will use the proposed increase to strengthen its employment portfolio. In addition, NIDRR will continue to support a cloud computing initiative that uses the internet infrastructure to improve technology access through the development, implementation, and delivery of mechanisms that will provide on-demand accessibility for everyone who faces technology accessibility barriers.
Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement. Even in tough budget times, the substantial investments that have been made by the Administration to strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability, religious, gender, and gender identity discrimination continue in the 2014 Budget. The Budget provides $12.5 million, a 9 percent increase over the 2012 enacted level, for the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice to fight hate crimes and provides a $13 million, or 3 percent, increase over the 2012 enacted level for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing Federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This investment will allow EEOC to add staff to reduce the agency’s backlog of private-sector discrimination charges, including disability discrimination charges.
Provide Housing for Persons with Disabilities. The Budget provides a total of $126 million for the Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program. This funding level will support all 36,000 existing housing units and includes $20 million for additional units. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will also continue research that will build our understanding of how to best integrate health care and affordable, supportive housing for extremely low-income persons with disabilities in community-based settings.
Support the Medical Needs of Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates an increase in the provision of health care services for veterans in Priority Levels 1-4 (largely those with service-connected disabilities). To meet the needs of this specific group of veterans, the VA Medical Care Budget includes $33 billion.
Support the Rights of People with Disabilities Internationally. The Budget provides funding to support the newly-created Disability Office at the Department of State. The office, which is part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is critical to the Administration’s efforts to: develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of persons with disabilities internationally; ensure that foreign assistance incorporates persons with disabilities; ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in international situations; and conduct public diplomacy, including with civil society, on disability issues.
Provide International Exchange Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Budget supports activities implemented by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State that address disability issues and provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate. These exchanges will include sports, youth programs, and International Visitors.
Expand Passenger Rail Options. The President’s surface transportation reauthorization proposal provides the flexibility for funding to be used to address the longstanding ADA gap at intercity passenger rail stations. Overall, the Administration’s rail reauthorization provides $40 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail, plus $5 billion for immediate rail investments in 2014, putting the country on track toward a system that gives 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, providing many citizens with disabilities access to additional, convenient transportation options.