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Capitol Hill Update

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On Friday, September 14, SHRM member Nadine Vogel (right) appeared before the U.S. House Social Security Subcommittee at a hearing on the solvency of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Insurance (DI) program. The hearing was called in part because the 2012 Annual Report of the SSA Board of Trustees found that DI revenues will cover only 79 percent of benefits beginning in 2016.

In her testimony, Ms. Vogel discussed the necessity for employment opportunities for the disabled, SHRM’s efforts to promote disability employment, background on federal return-to-work programs, challenges to disability employment, and successful employer stay-at-work and return-to-work strategies.

“Every day in this country, employer disability management strategies are helping employees stay at work and off of the nation’s strained Disability Insurance system,” Ms. Vogel shared with the Subcommittee that “SHRM and its members have a long history of promoting effective employment practices that advance equal opportunity for all people, including individuals with special needs.”

Ms. Vogel also noted that there are many challenges for employers in integrating individuals with disabilities into the workplace. These challenges include the conflict between the Family and Medical Leave Act, the American with Disabilities Act, workers compensation programs and employer return-to-work programs; outdated definitions of disability which focus more on what a person can’t do as opposed to what they can and; difficulties in working with the state vocational rehabilitation agencies.

Ms. Vogel is the Founder and President of Springboard Consulting in Mendham, New Jersey, and a member of SHRM’s Diversity & Inclusion Special Expertise Panel. She is also the author of “Dive In: Springboard into the Profitability, Productivity and Potential of the Special Needs Workforce.”

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