Obama’s 2015 Budget Package Includes “Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities”

President Obama has proposed a $3.9 trillion budget request on Tuesday. The budget adheres to the 2015 spending levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act and shows the choices the President would make at those levels. But it also “shows how to build on this progress to realize the nation’s full potential with a fully paid for $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative,” split evenly between defense and non-defense priorities. Obama’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year, according to the White House, offers “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class — all while continuing to improve the Nation’s long-run fiscal position.” Observers suggest that the proposal eschews what they see as the compromises of previous years’ proposals in order to draw a contrast between the policies of Democrats and those of Republicans.

One of the 18 “Fact Sheets on Key Issues” the White House released with the budget proposal package focuses on “Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities.” That document points out that the budget “provides new authority and $400 million in new resources for the Social Security Administration (SSA), in partnership with other federal agencies, to test innovative strategies to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce,” including “early-intervention measures, such as supportive employment services for individuals with mental impairments, targeted incentives for employers to help workers with disabilities remain on the job, and opportunities for States to better coordinate services.” Of the total amount of vocational rehabilitation funds that remain available at the end of 2015, the administration proposes to set aside $15 million to support projects designed to identify innovative transition services for youth with disabilities that lead to postsecondary education and/or competitive employment. The balance of funds would be used to improve services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities in the workforce system, support projects designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth with disabilities, and continue to support the Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE) pilot, initiated in 2012. The fact sheet also references “extending and improving the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing demonstration,” although details were not readily available. The budget also provides $160 million to the Housing for Persons with Disabilities program (Section 811) to continue current assistance and expand this housing by about 800 units.

FMI The budget documents are available at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.