Category Archives: Legislation

Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013 (ABLE Act of 2013)

This bill was referred to committee in February, 2013.  You can track its progress here.

Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013 or the ABLE Act of 2013 – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to establish tax-exempt ABLE accounts to assist an individual with a disability in building an account to pay for qualified disability expenses.

Defines “qualified disability expenses” to include expenses for education, including higher education expenses, a primary residence, transportation, obtaining and maintaining employment, health and wellness, and other personal support expenses.
Treats a qualified ABLE program and an ABLE account in the same manner as a qualified tuition program for income tax purposes (i.e., allowing a tax exemption for such program and an exclusion from gross income of amounts attributable to a contributor to or a beneficiary of a program account).
Defines “qualified ABLE program” as a program established and maintained by a state agency under which a person may make contributions to an ABLE account established to pay for qualified disability expenses.
Requires amounts in ABLE accounts to be disregarded in determining eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested federal programs.
Suspends the payment of supplemental security income benefits under title XVI (Supplemental Security Income) of the Social Security Act to an individual during any period in which such individual has excess resources attributable to an ABLE account.

H.R. 509: TEAM-Employment Act of 2013

 Transition toward Excellence, Achievement, and Mobility through Employment Act of 2013 or TEAM-Employment Act of 2013 

(b) PurposesThe purposes of this Act are the following:
(1) To create a systemic focus on cultivating the high expectations for youth with significant disabilities to transition successfully into adulthood and be able to work in integrated employment, earn a liveable wage, and live independently in integrated communities through public policies that advance equality of opportunity, informed choice, employment first principles, and economic self-sufficiency.
(2) To promote innovative strategies to foster academic, professional, and social inclusion, and the solidification of long-term services and supports required to ensure full integration into the society (including school, work, family, social engagement, interpersonal relationships, and community living).
(3) To better define and coordinate specific services related to the effective transition of youth with significant disabilities.
(4) To eliminate barriers and provide incentives for multiple stakeholders to collaborate and improve transition services for youth with significant disabilities.
This site contains the entire text of the TEAM Act bill.
Read the status and summary, and sign up to track the bill, here.
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Observing the 50th Anniversary of Developmental Disability Act and National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The White House Blog Post, by Claudia Gordon,  Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement. Novembr 21, 2013

Last week, the White House hosted a celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), originally signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963 as the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963.  The event marked a unique opportunity for the intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) community to celebrate the accomplishments of the past, examine current challenges, and look ahead to the future of disability policy.  Speakers from the Obama Administration and representatives from several disability organizations were featured.

And on November 13, in honor of October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the White House hosted 20 juniors and seniors with disabilities from five Washington, DC area high schools – the Chelsea School (Hyattsville, MD), Cardozo Education Campus (Washington, DC), Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Prince George’s County, MD), Falls Church High School (Fairfax County, VA), and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (Washington, DC).

Continue reading here.

50th Anniversary of the Developmental Disabilities Act

Administration for Community Living Blog Post

n February 1963, a remarkable and fundamental shift began with President John F. Kennedy’s Special Message to Congress on Mental Illness and Mental Retardation (now called intellectual disabilities). President Kennedy envisioned a future in which, as he put it, the “reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability.”

President Kennedy’s forward-thinking ideas resulted in the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963, signed into law fifty years ago today. This ultimately became both the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and the Community Mental Health Act, and was the first piece of substantial federal policy that focused upon deinstitutionalization.

Five decades ago, it was common for people with psychiatric needs and people with developmental disabilities to live in institutions; many were excluded from their communities, separated from their families, and subjected to abuse and neglect. There were no expectations for a meaningful life—the assumption was that people with developmental disabilities or mental illness could only be passive recipients of charity and care, not active contributors to their family, community or society.

Thankfully, we have seen substantial change in the past fifty years, and the Developmental Disabilities Act (DD Act) is the foundation upon which those changes have been built.In 1963, children with disabilities did not have the right to go to school with siblings and peers without disabilities because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act did not pass until 1975. People with disabilities did not have any civil rights protections until the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 establishing broad non-discrimination protections. There was no right to choose community living until the Olmstead decision in 1999. And, the last major bastion of legal discrimination was finally addressed in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the end of discrimination in health insurance coverage based upon pre-existing conditions.

Read more here.

National Transition Dialogue: Report

Federal Partners in  Transition National Transition Dialogue

 The Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue was held on May 13 to May 27, 2013 through the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services and the Social security Administration.  The dialogue generated ideas and comments about federal legislative and regulatory barriers and other opportunities to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities.

Based on the input of participants, a report entitled Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue: Participation Metrics was developed to summarize the dialogue’s results. “Your thoughtful responses have added tremendous value and will help to frame our efforts to work together strategically to develop a plan to improve transition results for youth with disabilities by 2020”.

To view the full report, click on this link:View PDF File.

ILR to study teens with disabilities in $32.5M effort

Cornell University ILR School article , November 11, 2013

The ILR School’s Employment and Disability Institute is supporting the New York governor’s office and the state Office of Mental Health by leading the research and implementation of a $32.5 million federal award to improve education and career outcomes for low-income children with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income.

Funding for New York state from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services was announced Nov. 8 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The initiative, “Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income,” or PROMISE, was proposed by the Obama administration to improve services for more than 2,000 teens ages 14 through 16 and their families.

The grant is designed to help students graduate from high school, complete postsecondary education and job training, obtain employment and reduce reliance on Supplemental Security Income.

Read more here.