Website of the Week - MSAA’s M.S. Awareness Month Webpage
March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month. In honor, we have selected the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America’s (MSAA) MS Awareness Month webpage as our website of the week. We join in solidarity with the 2.3 million people around the world living with MS and encourage you to do the same. Check out the page to see what you can do to help raise awareness and support the MS community.
Climb the Economic Ladder: New Section 503 Rule
By Michael Morris, Executive Director, National Disability Institute
U.S. Department of Labor data indicates a workforce participation rate of 31.6 percent for working age people with disabilities as compared to 76.5 percent of working age individuals without disabilities. Census data indicates that household income for persons aged 18 to 64 with a disability was $25,420, compared with a median income of $59,411 for households who did not report a disability. The poverty rate for individuals with disabilities is more than twice that of people without disabilities. Despite these challenging statistics regarding unemployment, income and poverty status, this month new federal regulations become final that will offer thousands of individuals with disabilities new opportunities to climb up the economic ladder and design a personal pathway to greater economic security and stability.
On March 27th, new final rules for Section 503 issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) go into effect. Section 503 prohibits employment discrimination against individuals based on disability by federal contractors and subcontractors. The new rule for the first time establishes a 7 percent utilization goal for federal contractors in the hiring and retention of workers with disabilities. Although not a quota or a ceiling, the Section 503 final rule sets out new affirmative obligations on federal contractors to recruit, hire, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. Contractors will be required to maintain records that compare the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs with the number of individuals who are actually hired. Records must also be kept on outreach and recruitment efforts, retention, and career advancement. For the first time, contractors can invite job applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability at a pre offer stage of the hiring process as well as post job offer which will help contractors meet their recruitment, hiring, and career advancement goals.
What are the possibilities for the future? OFCCP estimates that an additional 600,000 workers with disabilities may be hired by federal contractors to help meet Section 503 obligations. The greatest challenge expressed by federal contractors is the concern with finding talented people with disabilities who might meet their needs.
National Disability Institute is teaming up with Our Ability to help create the pipeline of talent with a new online tool, Our Ability Connect, to connect job seekers with disabilities with the jobs available from federal contractors. John Robinson, CEO of Our Ability, a small business created by and for people with disabilities, believes the puzzle can be solved with a pipeline that is responsive to business needs.
To climb the economic ladder, talented individuals with disabilities need to raise the bar of expectations about their value in an inclusive workforce and the importance of saving and building assets as part of long-term goals focused on economic stability and security.
The new rule will make the climb up the economic ladder a little bit easier. Federal contractors need to step up. Job seekers with disabilities need to demonstrate the skill sets to meet demand. OFCCP needs to hold federal contractors accountable for this new level of affirmative action.
Publication of the Week - Federal Trade Commission’s 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud
Since 2011, more than 23 million Americans have been the victim of identity theft - an alarming statistic. However, this week, government agencies and like-minded organizations across the country are doing something about it, using National Consumer Protection Week to share the very best in consumer education resources.
That is why, today, we are showcasing the Federal Trade Commission’s 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud as our publication of the week. The publication provides consumers with the 10 best practices to recognize and prevent identity theft.
Don’t let yourself be a victim! Get informed and share these successful strategies with friends and family.
Website of the Week - National Consumer Protection Week
Here at National Disability Institute, we are committed to ensuring all consumers, with and without disabilities, make better-informed financial decisions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is in that spirit, we highlight the National Consumer Protection website this week, and celebrate this important campaign to encourage, educate and equip people with the skills to make decisions about their finances, health, privacy and much more.
This year, National Consumer Protection Week runs from March 2 through March 8.
Department of Labor’s Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future - Publication of the Week
Today marks the midpoint of America Saves Week 2014. As you continue to learn successful strategies to improve your financial capacity and capability, another terrific resource at your disposal is Department of Labor’s 2013 Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future. The publication provides planning tools and ideas to help start, set and succeed in setting individual financial and retirement goals.
Military Saves - Website of the Week
A component of America Saves, which annually hosts America Saves Week, Military Saves educates and motivates military families to improve their financial capacity by saving money, reducing debt and learning to budget.
This week, as people across the country celebrate Military Saves Week and America Saves Week, one important service many individuals can take advantage of, and instantly save hundreds of dollars, is MyFreeTaxes. The initiative not only offers free tax preparation and filing assistance to taxpayers making $58,000 or less per year, MyFreeTaxes also offers in-person filing assistance at community-based tax preparation sites, American Job Centers as well as various veterans organizations. Many of these locations also serve as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, where IRS-certified volunteers help eligible taxpayers earning $52,000 or less per year prepare and file their taxes.
For more information, and to file your taxes should you qualify, please visit MyFreeTaxes.com.
Happy Military Saves Week and America Saves Week! Start saving, take control of your finances and begin building a better financial future now.
The Great Indoors
The poet T.S. Eliot had it wrong: February is the cruelest month. That is why those of us with depression tend to stay indoors and bond with friends to get through the snow and ice of winter. What’s my solution?
I vouch for the spirit-lifting effectiveness of regular wintertime potluck dinners – not only for those living with depression, but everyone! Not only are you spending time with friends and family, it’s also a great way for everyone to enjoy many dishes at a low cost (this is especially important to me as someone on a SSDI with a fixed income). I generally offer to make chili, one friend brings the cornbread, another the salad, two more on appetizers and dessert and we’re all set!
Follow up a potluck by watching a movie, or do like I do: play a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit. My friend, Sherry, and I got hooked on this game years ago. We love to roar when someone gets a difficult question.
Hot food, warm friends, and loud, lively board games. That is how I get through a long winter’s night in February.
So, stay cheerful and start calling friends to line up your next potluck.
Have fun, stay warm and good luck.
AFI Project Builder: Guide to Designing an AFI IDA Project - Publication of the Week
Assets for Independence’s (AFI) Project Builder provides comprehensive instructions and guidelines on how to successfully plan, implement and request an AFI award for individual development account (IDA) projects that help low-income and working families build their assets, increase their economic security and plan and save for the future.
The Jewish Federation of North America’s Jewish Disability Awareness Month Page - Website of the Week
February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. In recognition, the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) created the Jewish Disability Awareness Month webpage to provide educational materials, tools, information and event locations for advocates interested in working to increase awareness and equal opportunity initiatives for people with disabilities in the Jewish community.
A Progress Report: Strength in Our Differences - Publication of the Week
In October 2013, the National Council on Disability’s annual report, A Progress Report: Strength in Our Differences, illustrates the nation’s progress in achieving the ADA goals of independent living, full societal participation, equal opportunity and economic self-sufficiency. In addition, the report identifies areas of improvement and public policy suggestions to make a more inclusive society.