Harrisburg, PA - As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Treasurer Stacy Garrity and Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy A. Walker today encouraged employers to provide supportive, inclusive policies for Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
This year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month is Advancing Access and Equity. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was the first legislative action to prohibit discrimination based on disability across federal agencies and programs.
“Pennsylvanians living with disabilities are an essential part of our workforce and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great reminder that businesses should always be sure they’re supporting employees with disabilities by implementing new policies and reviewing and revamping existing ones. All Pennsylvanians deserve an inclusive, welcoming workplace.”
Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Stacy Garrity
“Everybody is different – those differences are what makes each of us unique. I want Pennsylvanians to know that it’s OK to speak up at work and ask for an accommodation so that you can do your job comfortably and effectively. In fact, you’re entitled to an accommodation. People with disabilities bring invaluable perspective and experience to the many jobs they do throughout Pennsylvania, and our workplaces are stronger when we take steps to ensure that people with disabilities are included.”
Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary, Nancy A. Walker
L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) assists Pennsylvanians with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment while maintaining their independence. Each year, OVR serves about 50,000 individuals with disabilities to help them pursue competitive, integrated employment in their community through services including vocational counseling, assistive technology, and employment training.
OVR also operates the Hiram G. Andrews Center’s (HGAC) Commonwealth Technical Institute (CTI), L&I’s postsecondary trade and technical school that specializes in providing barrier-free education and job-readiness programs to people of all backgrounds and ability levels. CTI offers three associate degree programs (medical office assistant, culinary arts, and networking technology) and seven diploma programs with credentials for careers in administration, automotive technology, building maintenance, culinary arts, materials management and distribution, nursing, and welding technology.
Disability support services offered at CTI include deaf/hard of hearing services, autism support services, services for students with visual impairments, therapeutic services, career services, driver training, independent living skills services, and more.
Treasury administers the PA ABLE Savings Program for people with disabilities. PA ABLE accounts allow individuals to save tax-free for disability-related expenses without hurting eligibility for important benefits.
At no cost, employers can help empower their employees with disabilities by facilitating automatic payroll deductions to PA ABLE accounts. Plus, PA ABLE account owners who are employed may contribute additional funds beyond the annual $17,000 contribution limit through ABLE to Work. Treasury’s regional outreach team is available to support workplace initiatives to help more Pennsylvanians save with PA ABLE.
More than 8,000 Pennsylvanians have saved more than $95 million in PA ABLE accounts to help pay for day-to-day expenses like groceries and rent or long-term expenses like healthcare, assistive technology, and adaptive vehicles.
PA ABLE is one of the largest ABLE programs in the country, and the largest in the 19-member National ABLE Alliance – accounting for nearly 25% of total assets.
To be eligible to save with PA ABLE, a person’s disability must be onset prior to the age of 26. Thanks to the federal ABLE Age Adjustment Act, the age limit will increase to 46 starting in 2026, expanding ABLE plan eligibility to millions more Americans, including one million veterans.
State ABLE programs were made possible by federal ABLE legislation spearheaded by U.S. Senator Bob Casey in 2014. PA ABLE was enacted in 2016, led by state Senator Lisa Baker, with the first accounts opened in 2017.
For details about offering PA ABLE in your workplace, visit paable.gov or call (855) 529-2253.
For more information about National Disability Employment Awareness Month and how to Advance Access and Equity in your workplace, visit dol.gov/NDEAM.