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It’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month

During October we observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and this year’s theme is “Advancing Access and Equity:  Then, Now and Next”.  As with each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities.  This awareness campaign showcases supportive, inclusive policies and practices that benefit employees and employers alike.

Also, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, marking the first legislation prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors and recipients of federal funds, and in the delivery of federally funded programs and activities.

Over the last few years, competitive, integrated employment has become a reality for many due to the sustained focus from government and industry.  And a tight labor market helps too.  It is encouraging that some of the largest companies in the country are welcoming diversity: CapitalOne, Ford, JP Morgan, Apple, Google, Coca-Cola and Sony, to mention a few.  We believe that diversity in the workplace is here to stay and its demand will only increase.



This above chart shows labor force participation rates segmented by people without and with disabilities from 2008.  The vertical line in 2020 represents the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  For people without disabilities, the upper part of the chart shows the participation rate in 2008 at 79.5%, and in July 2023, the rate is 78.4%, which still has not regained its full rate.  By comparison, the lower part of the chart shows that people with disabilities have not only restored their employment rate of 37% from 2008 but have increased to an all-time high of 40% in July 2023.

As employment opportunities develop for the I/DD population, so must our mindset grow to support it.  SSI and Medicaid recipients can and should have jobs where appropriate.  As individuals join the workforce in larger numbers, it is now our responsibility to protect their benefits by understanding the impacts of income and how we can plan so that benefits, especially Medicaid stay in place.

Now is the time to use exempt resources when managing your employed consumer’s funds.  Money can be easily swept from a consumer’s checking or saving account into an exempt resource where funds do not count against an individual’s resource limit, thereby safeguarding benefits and building resources for you consumers.  Most common exempt resources are irrevocable burial accounts, special needs trusts, special needs pooled trusts and ABLE accounts.

When trying to understand SSI and Medicaid’s thresholds for income or which exempt resource(s) to choose, we at Arlington Heritage Group are here to help you understand all the complexities and decide on which are the best choices for your consumers and agency.



Some information sourced from the US Department of Labor