Posts Tagged "Department of Labor"
July 6, 2021
Hard for People on SSDI to Resume Work
The federal government runs numerous small-scale experiments across the country to explore ways to help people on Social Security disability ease back into work to reduce the benefits being paid.
In a recent webinar, researchers discussed the extreme challenges of designing programs that are effective, given the inherent disadvantages – from the disabling condition itself and discrimination to having less education – that people with disabilities face in the job market.
After close examination of several programs, the researchers found that the primary goals of most demonstration programs are very difficult to achieve: reducing disability benefits or increasing the earnings of people on disability who have sporadic or part-time work. But they also suggested that the programs would be deemed more successful if policymakers would broaden the goals to include the improved well-being of people with disabilities.
To increase their employment, Kilolo Kijakazi, deputy commissioner of retirement and disability policy at the U.S. Social Security Administration, said it’s critical to first address inequities in the job market.
Research shows that many people on disability express an interest in working but face multiple barriers. Employers aren’t always willing to make the workplace accommodations needed to hire them. People on disability also tend to be older than most workers and may face age discrimination. Others have been discouraged by past work experiences, and finding transportation to and from a job is often a challenge.
Although a minority of all Americans with disabilities are working, the 2020 unemployment rate among people with a disability who are either working or looking for a job was 12.6 percent. However, unemployment among Black Americans with disabilities was 16.3 percent. The rates were also very high for Asian-Americans and Latinos with disabilities – 15.7% and 16.8 percent, respectively.
“We need to develop policies and programs that address these inequities,” Kijakazi said.
Robert Moffitt at Johns Hopkins University analyzed several back-to-work programs, including the use of counselors and financial incentives. He found that the programs are extremely difficult to implement well and that participation is fairly low.
Although they do help some individuals, he concluded, “Most of the efforts to increase employment, earnings and labor force engagement of [disability] beneficiaries have been disappointing.” …Learn More
June 8, 2021
$4 Billion in Pension Payments Returned
It’s the employer’s responsibility to find former employees and keep them apprised of any retirement benefits they left behind.
But that hasn’t always worked out. Some employers don’t have former workers’ current contact information, and others don’t bother to track them down. Worst-case scenarios are often fallout from a merger: the company being acquired has kept shoddy pension plan records and the acquirer doesn’t update them. Some companies have even deleted a participant’s name from the records.
Tyler Compton, an attorney with the Pension Action Center, which connects workers with lost pensions and 401(k) savings plans, said people frequently contact a former employer because they think they might have a plan. But if the worker is told he’s not in the records, he might drop the matter, she said.
The U.S. Department of Labor decided several years ago that employers’ efforts weren’t good enough. The department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) began investigating the problem and pushing companies to improve their methods for finding workers who had quit or been laid off but were owed pension benefits or had savings sitting in an old 401(k).
EBSA has gotten results. Since 2017, more than $4 billion in past due defined benefit pension payments have been returned to millions of plan participants.
By making clear what is expected of employers, regulators “put a lot of pressure, in a good sense, on plan administrators to really up their games,” Jeffrey Holdvogt, a legal partner with McDermott Will & Emery, said in a recent webinar hosted by the Pension Action Center at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. …Learn More