PVA continues to press for greater employment opportunities for veterans with significant disabilities. Although the recent monthly national employment report showed the economy continuing to add jobs and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed overall veteran unemployment returning to pre-pandemic levels, the picture for veterans with service-connected disabilities is somewhat more nuanced. According to the BLS, 94.4 percent of Gulf War Era II veterans rated 30 percent or lower are in the labor force versus 63.8 percent labor force participation for those with a rating of 60 percent or higher. Numbers for veterans with non-service-connected disabilities are harder to come by but may be part of statistics for people with disabilities, whose labor force participation this month stood at 37.8 percent compared to 77.2 percent for those without disabilities.
Veterans and other people with disabilities often encounter the greatest challenges to entering or re-entering the workforce. That is why PVA supports passage of legislation that would address some of the most stubborn work disincentives for people with disabilities and is working with allies in the veteran and disability communities to raise attention to disabled veteran employment within the nation’s workforce development programs. Two employment-related bills are among our legislative priorities for the 117th Congress and are featured in PVAction Force. The Disability Employment Incentive Act (H.R. 3765/S. 630) would improve the value of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) available to employers that hire workers with barriers to employment, including veterans and those with disabilities. That measure would also allow use of the tax credit when hiring those on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Since most veterans with significant disabilities qualify for SSDI if they are not working, use of WOTC on their behalf could be a help to them in the hiring process.
The other measure is the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust Act (H.R .5723/S. 3071). Although it contains several benefit enhancements that PVA supports, we want to highlight an important employment related provision within that bill. Many SSDI recipients are reluctant to work full time or increase their earnings because of the “cash cliff,” whereby – once their earnings exceed a modest monthly level - they risk sudden loss not only of their own benefits but health care coverage and dependent benefits as well. The 2100 Act would replace the cash cliff with a gradual reduction in benefits as earned income rises.
PVA has also joined with the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS) and other veteran and disability organizations to form the Disabled Veterans Workforce Coalition. A major aim of the coalition is to examine all aspects of the nation’s workforce development system and how well it serves veterans with disabilities. The House Education and Labor Committee recently introduced H.R. 7309, reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), to strengthen support for adult training, employment services, Job Corps, and other programs funded through that Act. The Jobs for Veterans State Grant program falls under WIOA and the coalition has been exploring the extent to which veterans with disabilities receive the services to which they are entitled through America’s Job Centers.
PVA encourages all who support employment opportunities for veterans and other people with disabilities to call on Congress to address their employment support needs. And if you are a veteran or caregiver interested in employment, please contact PVA's Veterans Career Program to learn more about available opportunities.