National Council on Disability Provides Roadmap of Critical Policy Changes to Allow People with Disabilities to Participate Fully in American Dream

NEWS RELEASE

NCD #08–562
August 11, 2008
Contact: Mark S. Quigley
202-272-2004

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) today released a report titled The State of 21st Century Financial Incentives for Americans with Disabilities (http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2008/pdf/FinancialIncentives.pdf), with recommendations that provide a new frontier for the next generation of Americans with disabilities—allowing them to participate fully in the economy.

According to NCD Chairperson John R. Vaughn, "We believe that this groundbreaking document provides a road map for equality of economic rights for people of all abilities, regardless of race or socioeconomic background. This report describes financial incentives affecting people with disabilities and presents research findings on key areas of people's lives, such as education and health care. It also describes selected state-level innovations affecting asset development and wealth accumulation."

The report suggests several strategies for securing meaningful employment, career advancement, and benefits needed for daily living and accommodations. One of the key strategies involves the conversion of federal financial disincentives to incentives, which the report describes as possible. The operation of needs-based program limits across a broad range of federal programs regarding what beneficiaries can receive creates a major disincentive to work, entrepreneurship, or other asset-accumulation activities. This report proposes that, through the development of the Policies Optimizing Workers' Economic Reach (POWER) framework, needs-based programs could be converted from disincentives to incentives that help people gain employment and self-sufficiency.

"The State of 21st Century Financial Incentives for Americans with Disabilities recognizes that the potential for Americans with disabilities to become full citizens cannot and will not be realized without a redesign of public policy. To that end, this report offers recommendations that can increase opportunities for people with disabilities to become fully involved in the economic mainstream of American society," Vaughn concluded.

The report recommendations include:

Recommendation 1: NCD recommends that the Administration create a federal interagency workgroup on financial incentives for people with disabilities and their families; develop an Executive order calling for all agencies to identify policy barriers; and create a time-limited body to facilitate a consistent, coordinated, comprehensive, and consumer-friendly approach to advance opportunities for full community participation and economic self-sufficiency.

Recommendation 2: NCD recommends that Congress review, introduce, and consider adoption of the POWER framework through changes in federal legislation pertaining to Social Security, Medicaid, savings, asset building, and the relevant aspects of the federal tax code.

Recommendation 3: NCD recommends that the Department of Education take appropriate actions to expand the knowledge available about the cost-benefit outcomes of direct and indirect financial incentives and to advance self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. These actions would include the establishment of a new Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Financial Incentives to Advance Self-Sufficiency charged to increase the sparse knowledge base.

Recommendation 4: NCD recommends that key federal agencies fund demonstration projects that improve capacity for employer and community use of financial incentives to advance real economic impact. This work should be included in the written plans and annual reports to Congress of each agency.

Recommendation 5: NCD recommends the establishment of a federally funded joint education effort to expand and improve financial education and outreach to children and adults with disabilities across economic levels and types of abilities.

NCD is an independent federal agency and is composed of 15 members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. We provide advice to the President, Congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

For more information, please contact NCD's Director of External Affairs Mark S. Quigley at mquigley@ncd.gov or 202-272-2004 or visit www.ncd.gov.

* * *

National Council on Disability • 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850 • Washington, DC 20004