Company looks at politics and financial planning for individuals with disabilities, and examines two pieces of legislation to affect families with special needs
Online PR News – 17-August-2014 – Washington, D.C. – The staff of M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC feel it is incredibly important to realize how politics and government policy can affect any financial or life plans for individuals with special needs. For that reason, they strive to ensure that they educate and inform the public as to any changes to legislation or government policy as they happen. In their latest weekly blog post, the company stands by this commitment by providing an update on latest news regarding the ABLE Act. They also provide a detailed discussion of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law on July 22nd.
The ABLE Act
M&L writes that the ABLE Act is legislation that would allow individuals with disabilities to create tax free savings accounts. These accounts can be used to save for post-secondary education, living expenses, living supports, employment supports, etc. M&L references a quote on the National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) website, “An ABLE account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, and community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts.”
According to M&L, on July 31st an important bi-partisan vote by the House Ways and Means Committee moved this important piece of legislation even further – the ABLE Act of 2013 H.R 647 was “ordered favorably reported, as amended to the House of Representatives by voice vote.[i]” Sponsors of the bill (U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)) are confident that the success of the Ways and Means vote will provide the necessary momentum to push the Act further – they are hopeful to see it passed and signed into law in September of this year.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – What Is It?
On July 9th, congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, “the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in 15 years” by a wide bipartisan majority. On Tuesday, July 22nd President Barack Obama signed this legislation into law.
In their explanation of WIOA, M&L references Washington Senator Patty Murray, who describes it as a “bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will improve our nation’s workforce development system and help put Americans back to work.[ii]” The legislation aims to do this by “reauthorizing and reforming core workforce development programs, and by transferring independent living program functions from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services” – essentially, the restructuring of these programs will help those looking for jobs access the necessary training and support needed to access the jobs. It will also match employers with skilled workers.
How Will WIOA Help My Child with Special Needs?
WIOA is designed to help individuals with disabilities obtain/return to work and lower the high rate of unemployment among that population. Staunch advocate ACCSES, an organization representing more than 1,200 disability service providers across the country, maintains that WIOA adheres to the position that “competitive integrated employment is the presumptive, priority outcome for individuals with disabilities, but that other outcomes are also appropriate based on an individual’s person-centered plan.”
According to an article in Disability Scoop, the WIAO significantly limits placements at sheltered workshops and other work environments where people with disabilities earn less than minimum wage. In fact, once WIAO comes into effect, it will no longer be legal for individuals under the age of 24 to earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25/hour unless they have received transitional or vocational rehabilitation services. The law does allow for individuals to continue working in their jobs if they have tried competitive employment first, and/or are already employed, and/or have been deemed ineligible for vocational rehabilitation. As well, all state vocational rehabilitation services are required to reach out to schools to provide transition services to all students with disabilities - these agencies must allocate at least 15% of their federal funding toward such transition efforts.
WIOA will come into effect in July of 2015, and the subminimum wage laws will be enacted two years after that. For more information, please visit M&L’s website to read the blog in full.
M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC helps families plan for housing needs of family members with disabilities through services such as their Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan, and their newly launched Independent Living Program and Housing Project. Those who wish to learn more about financial and life planning services related to special needs planning can visit the M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC website and are encouraged to contact them for more information.