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New DOL rules to help vets, disabled people

New rules passed by the Labor Department earlier this week are good news for disabled people looking for work, as well as veterans. And there are quite a few unemployed disabled people out there. Right now the unemployment rate in this group is about 14.7, about twice the number for the general population. Among vets, the unemployment rate is 7.3, though for vets who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan was, the number is 9.9 percent.

Under the new rules, those numbers will hopefully change. The rules require most government contractors to work toward meeting a minimum percent of disabled workers. For disabled people, the number is 8 percent, while for vets the number is 8 percent. Those numbers will not remain fixed, but will change from year to year. 

The change is really a positive thing as it will open up opportunities for disabled people and ensures that civil rights laws protecting the disabled are actually effective. About 171,000 companies are expected to be affected by the new rules, which will account for roughly 16 million workers, which is over 20 percent of the national workforce.

It isn’t clear yet whether the new rules will be go unchallenged. Some business groups have threatened to take legal action, saying that the new rules are in conflict with federal laws which prevent employers from inquiring about applicants’ disability status in the interview process.

Disabled people who are struggling to find work may find that they qualify for Social Security disability. While the disability standard is high to be approved for benefits, the security offered by SSDI is critical for many folks. 

Source: The Washington Post, “Labor Department rules to increase hiring of veterans, disabled workers,” August 28. 2013.