Federal Contractors Asked to Track Employee Disability Status

The unemployment rate for the disabled is much higher than for those who do not have an impairing conditions, and has largely remained unchanged over the past five years. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities stands at 14.3 percent as compared to 6.8 percent for those who are not disabled. The Wall Street Journal also reports that the labor force participation rate for those who are disabled is just 19.1 percent compared to 68.5 percent for non-disabled individuals. corporate-955464-m.jpg

To try to reduce this widening gap and create more opportunities for the disabled, U.S. regulations will now require federal contractors to ask all employees if they have a disability. If the federal contractor does not have at least seven percent disabled workers, the employer will either need to prove that it is taking steps to achieve that goal or could face penalties and even the loss of government contracts.

This change is an important effort to provide more solutions to the disabled who want to find jobs but who are unable to do so and who are left relying on Social Security Disability (SSD) as their only source of income.

Trial work period rules make it possible for the disabled to try their hand at holding a job without affecting their benefits, and now new regulations could open doors for them to actually do so. The disabled, however, will need to ensure that they do not inadvertently affect their disability income by taking a job. A Boston Social Security disability lawyer can help disabled workers receiving benefits to understand their options for working.

Federal Contractors Encouraged to Hire the Disabled

The new regulations apply to all federal contracts who have 50 or more employees and/or who do at least $50,000 in government work. Almost a quarter of the entire U.S. workforce is employed by a company that is considered a federal contractor. AT&T, Dell Inc. and Boeing Co. are among the 40,000 different companies that have federal contracts.

When employees are asked about their disability status by their employers, they are not required to disclose the specific impairment that they have. However, the new regulation could still create a potential conflict with the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA prohibits companies from obtaining information on whether a worker is disabled because of fears that this information could lead to discrimination. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has created an exception in order to allow federal contractors to comply with the new requirement, this still creates a potential legal landmine for federal contractors.

Despite the potential problems, efforts to ensure that the disabled have job opportunities are laudable and clearly something needs to be done to provide a chance for the millions of disabled people receiving benefits to find employment if they want it.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

More Blog Entries:
Mays v. Colvin – Disproving Ability to Do Sedentary Work, Jan. 23, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Blog

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