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House-approved budget deal leaves disability advocates hopeful

Last week, members of the House of Representatives came together and approved a two-year budget deal. With the Senate set to vote on it this week, many disability advocates are holding their breath, hoping for approval. Why? The new budget would cancel out the effects of sequestration on funding to various programs that benefit those who live with disabilities, including special education.

Although the new budget proposal leaves less room for federal spending on disability programs than the budget did a few years ago, it will help reverse serious cuts that happened and are set to happen this year. Special education lost about $600 million in federal funding, and cuts to other programs would have started soon. Fortunately, the president has said he will sign the legislation should it get to his desk.

For those in New York who receive Social Security disability benefits or who are waiting for a decision on their application, the budget deal will have no effect. Neither funding nor access to Social Security programs will change.

Now that the Senate is tasked with debating this budget deal, hopefully senators from New York and elsewhere will keep in mind the huge role that federal funding can play in ensuring that people with disabilities have access to support programs. Although Social Security disability insurance is an important factor for many people, it is not the only federally funded program that helps people with disabilities. Special education, housing programs and employment services, among other others, all play an important role as well.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Disability Advocates 'Encouraged' By Budget Deal," Michelle Diament, Dec. 13, 2013

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