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How Disability Factors Into the President’s Budget

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

President Obama speaks

On February 14, President Obama sent his Fiscal Year 2012 budget to Congress. According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the budget is intended to cut wasteful spending but keep investments needed to spur the economy and create jobs, which includes several incentives for people with disabilities.

Innovations in the Workforce
Nearly $380 million is allocated in the budget to the Departments of Education and Labor for a Workforce Innovation Fund to support reforms of the workforce system, including projects that improve education and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The Vocational Rehabilitation program will contribute $30 million to help ensure that the fund invests in innovative programs and evidence-based practices to provide high-quality employment services to individuals with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities.

Career Centers and Social Security
The President’s budget allows for $24 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. Also proposed is a new Disability Insurance Work Incentives Simplification Pilot to make Social Security work rules more straightforward and allow beneficiaries more flexibility to try to work without fear of losing their benefits.

Disability Research
About $120 million is provided in the budget for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), including $10 million to support a new 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 accessibility barriers. NIDRR conducts comprehensive and coordinated programs of research and related activities to maximize the full inclusion, social integration, employment and independent living of individuals with disabilities of all ages, according to information from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Anti-Discrimination Enforcement
The President’s budget proposes an increase for the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice to fight hate crimes and provides $18 million, a 5 percent increase over the 2010 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 will allow EEOC to add staff to reduce the agency’s backlog of private-sector discrimination charges.

Federal Employment of People with Disabilities
The President signed an executive order in July 2010 to increase federal employment of individuals with disabilities, and this budget provides the funds to the Office of Personnel Management to implement that executive order.