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Barak Obama and his efforts to help the disabled.

“Each day, Americans with disabilities play a critical role in forging and shaping the identity of our Nation. Their contributions touch us all through personal experience or through that of a family member, neighbor, friend, or colleague. We grow stronger as a Nation when Americans feel the dignity conferred by having the ability to support themselves and their families through productive work.”― Barack Obama

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Obama Disability Program

Barack Obama and his policy changes to help the disabled. Since his inauguration in 2009, President Obama has made the economic and social advancement of those with disabilities a priority in his administration.

Since his inauguration on January 20, 2009, Obama has made the economic and social advancement of those with disabilities a priority in his administration.

He had many promises in his campaign regarding disabilities and his ability to meet those promises has been mixed. Let’s take a look at some of the policies the Obama administration has enacted over the past few years that affect those with disabilities:

July 26, 2010- Obama enacts Executive Order 13548.

This order encourages Americans with disabilities to apply for jobs in the Federal government. At the time the law was passed, people with disabilities made up only 5% of the Federal workforce. Ten years prior, the Clinton administration passed an executive order requiring the Federal government to hire 100,000 people with disabilities, but the order was never implemented. Obama’s order was more effective. By 2012, nearly 12% of the Federal government was comprised of workers with disability. Between 2011 and 2014, the government hired 80,500 people with disabilities.

June 22, 2011- Obama recommits to enforcing the Olmstead ruling.

Olmstead was a Supreme Court case where it was ruled that isolating disabled individuals in institutions is a form of discrimination. In order to further that position, the Obama administration has emphasized the importance of the disabled participating in their respective communities. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has encouraged states to transition from large, centralized institutions to smaller, community-based services. The purpose of Olmstead is to help keep disabled individuals as active participants in their communities rather than sequestering them into institutions.

September 24, 2013- The Department of Labor published rules affecting Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The rules will become effective March 24, 2014. The new rules require businesses with at least 50 employees and $50,000 or more in federal contracts to have a staff comprised of at least 7% disabled workers. This action has been controversial because many disabled people do not self-identify as disabled on job applications for fear they would not be considered. The Americans with Disability Act allows disabled individuals to keep their disability confidential. A requirement for contractors to hire more disabled people is also an incentive for disabled people to reveal their status.

Obama social security disability

In December 2015 Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It replaces the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind act. The new law defines an “alternate diploma” for students with disabilities and emphasizes a focus on reducing bullying and harassment.

July 22, 2014- The Workforce Innovation And Opportunity Act (WIOA) is signed into law.

This act is essentially a routine reorganization of government job training programs. However, the bill has a strong focus on helping the disabled as it requires states to have a plan “to address the vocational rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities”, specifically services for those disabled young adults graduating from high school.

December 10, 2015- Obama signs the The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This law is a reaffirmation of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act- a key element of LBJ’s “War on Poverty”. It replaces the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind act, and while the Obama administration has been careful to point out the differences, the two laws are largely similar in effect. Among other things, the new law defines an “alternate diploma” for students with disabilities and emphasizes a focus on reducing bullying and harassment.

April 12, 2016- Obama helps the disabled with student loan forgiveness.

There had been a student loan forgiveness program in place for individuals declared permanently disabled by Social Security since 2013. Unfortunately, the program was under-utilized. Beginning in April, the Department of Education actively sought out those who were eligible for relief and forgave their loans.

These are some of things Obama has done that have been a boon for the disabled community. In Part 2, we will discuss some of the promises Obama failed to meet and the instances where he made negative comments regarding the disabled.

On To Part 2 –>

Long Term Disability Lawyers

Unfortunately, about a quarter of people will become disabled during their working years. If an injury or illness is preventing you from working, you may be eligible to collect disability benefits. If you are thinking of filing for social security or long term disability we can help. If you have filed for benefits and been denied disability we can assist in your appeal. Don’t give up. Contact the experienced long term disability attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed today for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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