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New Labor Department rules could help disabled workers

Last week, we wrote about the fact that the unemployment rate continues to rise among the disabled population in America, meaning that it is very difficult for disabled individuals to transition from relying on Social Security Disability benefits to gainful employment and self-sufficiency.

However, with the new Labor Department head in place, new regulations are expected that would help boost employment among the disabled population as well as veterans. The proposed regulations have been stalled for two years, but it is believed that the new Labor Department head -- whom employee advocates consider a champion -- will make the rules happen.

One of the rules that is expected to be imposed in the coming months would require most companies that have contracts with the federal government to set a goal of having 7 percent of their workforce made up of disabled workers.

It is believed that this rule alone would help lower the unemployment rate among the disabled population -- which is now 14.7 percent, nearly double the overall national unemployment rate -- since federal contractors employ about 25 percent of the nation's workforce.

Business groups are actively fighting this rule and others, calling the proposed changes an "activist, enforcement agenda." The new Labor Department head was approved by the Senate last month in a close vote along party lines.

Ultimately, it appears that the new Labor Department head will be an important catalyst in putting more jobs in reach for disabled Americans. Afterall, though many disabled Americans depend on SSD benefits, most would prefer to support themselves if they can find a job that works for them.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Likely Labor regs would aid vets, disabled, unions," Sam Hananel, Aug. 14, 2013

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