Bob Williams, a Social Security Administration (SSA) official, today put a House hearing in a new light simply by testifying.
Williams, the associate commissioner for the SSA’s Office of Employment Support Programs, spoke at a hearing on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) return-to-work programs organized by the Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee.
Williams, who has cerebral palsy and uses an electronic device to communicate, runs the SSA’s Ticket to Work program, the return-to-work program for people who are collecting SSDI benefits.
Williams had the rapt attention of both Republicans and Democrats on the panel as he made his remarks.
Williams suggested that policymakers need to think more about helping to create career paths for people with disabilities, not simply jobs.
“There are about 4 million Americans with disabilities who are employed,” Williams said. “Most make less than $20,000 annually. I would suggest that a critical question we all need to grapple with is how do we reward these workers. It is not just about services. It’s about creating opportunities for them to get and keep good jobs and careers that lead to better, self-supporting futures.”
Wiilliams has a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and has held high-powered policymaking jobs for years, but members of the panel said they were inspired by the effort he himself has made to have a career.
“Well said,” Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., told Williams. “You’re a champion.”