March06,2015

Living with No Boundaries: Meet Elizabeth

A photo of Elizabeth sitting on a brick wall. The wind is blowing and she is holding her long cane.

By Stephanie Bostaph, Communications Specialist, Disability.gov

Sometimes you meet someone and know immediately that he or she makes the world a better place. You can’t say why, you just know. That’s how we felt when we met Elizabeth. Maybe it was her graceful presence, light-hearted sense of humor or contagious positivity. Whatever the reason, spending time with Elizabeth was uplifting.

Elizabeth wasn’t born with a disability. She lost her sight unexpectedly nearly 12 years ago during her sophomore year of college. With her dream of being a museum curator derailed, Elizabeth faced the daunting task of figuring out what to do next. She decided to major in sociology and used employment supports to land her first job. Now she works as an information specialist at New Editions Consulting, Inc., a position she learned about through networking.

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March04,2015

Introducing the Redesigned Ticket to Work Website

A photo of a smartphone showing the Ticket to Work website.

Guest Blog by the Ticket to Work Team

The Ticket to Work program recently launched a redesigned beneficiary website at www.choosework.net. The website is part of Social Security’s efforts to help people with disabilities who want to work find and keep a job to reduce or eliminate their need for cash benefits.

Choosework.net is the place to start to learn about the Ticket to Work program, which provides free employment support services to Social Security disability beneficiaries who want to work. The site has an improved layout and is easier to use. It also offers more information to support you or someone you know on the journey to financial independence. Visit the site to take advantage of these new features: Read More about Introducing the Redesigned Ticket to Work Website

February23,2015

Building a Workforce That Reflects the People We Serve

Photo of Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

By Guest Blogger Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Four years ago, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.) stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities in the federal government. He set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than halfway toward reaching that milestone.

The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the federal government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years. In fiscal year 2013, 18 percent of new federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal year 2012. In the first three years of enacting the E.O., we have hired a total of 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities. Because of the hard work and dedication of federal employees and the disability community, we have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal.

But the E.O. on hiring people with disabilities is one of many initiatives aimed at building a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve. It is strengthened by President Obama’s efforts to increase the number of veterans serving in the federal government. It is bolstered by the President’s POWER Initiative, which ensures reemployment of people injured in the workplace. And it is a critical component of OPM’s new Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Roadmap, which reflects our commitment to the People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda.

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February18,2015

We Are Lions: Supporting Artists with disABILITIES

We Are Lions Logo: A graphic design of a lion with a crown and the text "Roar Loud!"

By Guest Blogger Brian McMahon, a Philanthropic Liaison and Business Development Consultant for We Are Lions

In the special needs community, we are often faced with disheartening statistics. A couple examples being the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January 2015 report that just 17.3 percent of individuals with disabilities were employed or the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ survey showing 45 percent of parents reported their children with learning disabilities were bullied in the past year. The list gets grimmer the deeper we dig. One thing is clear, there is an unfortunate lack of opportunities and understanding for people with disabilities in modern society.

However, I’m not here to discuss statistics. The beautiful people (not numbers) that make up this community deserve much more than that. What I am here to discuss is how silence is the root cause of many of these problems—and a new conversation that is capable of ending it.

The disability community is silenced on a variety of levels. Some, not only in the literal sense because they may not communicate the way someone without a disability would, but also in the way that they are marginalized by society. People with developmental disabilities are often so detached from mainstream society that those with no exposure to the community are unaware of how creative, and even relatable, these individuals are. It is stigma and indifference caused by this silence that leads so many individuals with disabilities to unemployment. We also see silence for mental illness; people afraid to speak out, to ask for help and sadly, the consequences can be very morbid.

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January29,2015

Are You “Aware” Tomorrow Is EITC Awareness Day?

A photo of a gentleman helping another man complete his taxes.

A Guest Blog by the MyFreeTaxes Partnership

The 2015 tax season is in full swing! Taxpayers with and without disabilities are preparing to file their taxes in anticipation for what is often the largest cash payment many receive all year: their tax refund.

Unfortunately, many taxpayers do not realize they may qualify for an even larger tax refund by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC; worse, many miss out on a refund altogether, fearing that filing their taxes and claiming the credit may lead to an additional tax burden — an all too common misconception.

Tomorrow (January 30th) is EITC Awareness Day, and if you worked last year, you may be eligible for EITC and may be missing out on the opportunity to get more of your money back from the IRS! If you didn’t know about the EITC, you’re not alone. Currently, one in five Americans who are eligible for EITC are unaware they qualify and do not claim it.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, you may be asking: what is the EITC? According to the IRS, the tax credit is “a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income.” Long considered to be one of our country’s most effective anti-poverty initiatives, this year, eligible taxpayers with three or more children earning up to $46,997 ($52,427 married filing jointly) can claim the EITC and may be eligible for the maximum credit of $6,143 — a life-changing amount for many.

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