Disability Coalition Outlines 2015 Priorities

Post Date: January 18, 2017
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A coalition of nearly 100 disability advocacy organizations including Paralyzed Veterans of America will focus much of its efforts in the coming year on protecting Social Security disability benefits and marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities – a coalition of national consumer, advocacy, provider and professional organizations – on January 13, 2015, brought together its member organizations at Paralyzed Veterans of America national headquarters for its annual meeting to discuss policy that affects people with disabilities and to highlight advocacy efforts that the disability community will undertake in the coming year.

“The annual meeting is devoted to briefings with public policy representatives, congressional staff and/or staff from the administration,” said Susan Prokop, senior associate advocacy director for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “The goal is to allow each task force in the coalition to report what they did in the preceding year as well as what their plans are for the coming year and invite other members of the coalition to participate.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America, which has been a member of the CCD since its founding in 1973, outlined priorities as part of the Veterans and Military Families task force. Those priorities include monitoring major legislation out of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees that affect veterans with disabilities, efforts to improve Defense health care services for military family members with disabilities and implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACAA) – which was enacted in 2014 in an effort to remedy problems identified at the VA and expand purchased care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans and Military Families task force also anticipates submitting comments in early 2015 on proposed rules concerning services animals in VA facilities and expanding access to non-VA care. The task force also will conduct additional briefings on VA benefits for veterans with disabilities.

“Our task force intends to monitor the VACAA and how it affects veterans with disabilities,” Prokop said. “There’s a lot of interest in the disability community in how that law gets implemented. We’re also likely to pursue some briefings for the task force on the VA disability benefits system.”

Of great priority for the coalition at large will be advocating to prevent across-the-board benefit cuts of 20 percent to Social Security Disability Insurance, which, by law, will need to be replenished by 2016. The coalition will advocate for a reallocation of payroll taxes – without accompanying cuts to Social Security coverage, eligibility or benefits – as the common-sense approach to avoiding those cuts.

Also of focus for the coalition is highlighting the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which was enacted on July 26, 1990. Part of that focus likely will involve a series of congressional briefings on the status of the ADA now 25 years later, Prokop said.

“There’s particular interest in educating Congress because a lot of members who were present during the passage of the ADA are no longer there,” Prokop said. “There’s a whole new generation of Congressional leadership who wasn’t there when the ADA passed and don’t understand the spirit of the law and what it’s meant to be.”

You can learn more about the CCD’s 2015 priorities.