Sen. Brown visits Springfield nonprofit that focuses on job training for those with disabilities

Tour of TAC Industries ties into proposed legislation introduced in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, paid a visit on Friday to TAC Industries, known as The Abilities Connection, where he toured the facility and talked about legislation that aims to help those with disabilities.

The nonprofit provides training and jobs to residents with disabilities and has manufactured cargo nets used by the support equipment and vehicles division at the Robins Air Force Base in Georgia since 2005.

Brown took a tour of TAC Industries’ manufacturing floor where people were working on those nets. He talked to some that use the Springfield nonprofit’s services as well as other workers.

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The reason for Brown’s visit was to not only see the work being done at TAC Industries’ Cargo Net Manufacturing Facility on Progress Road in Springfield, but to talk about legislation he has written and sponsored related to people with disabilities.

The SSI Restoration Act, which Brown introduced to the Senate, aims to update the eligibility and benefit levels of Supplemental Security Income that provides financial assistance to nearly eight million seniors and Americans who are blind or disabled, according to a news release from Brown’s office.

It is something supported by the leadership of TAC Industries, as a number of those who manufacture the cargo nets receive assistance from the SSI program.

Jim Zahora, TAC Industries’ CEO, said reform of the SSI program has long been overdue and that it will help a lot of people.

Brown said Friday that how the SSI program is administered punishes those who receive assistance from it for working additional hours, saving for the future and being married.

Brown said those actions can have an effect on the amount of SSI assistance people receive, which is not enough for some. The common allocation is on average $550 a month, and that the allotment has not been adjusted for inflation in more than two decades. Other parts of the SSI program that haven’t been updated since the 1980s include who is eligible and the benefit levels.

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Brown said there are caps on how many hours can be worked, or from acquiring additional work as well as how much money can be saved. He said that for many with disabilities, limited assistance can add more pressure in their day-to-day lives.

He said that updating the SSI program would help improve the lives of older and disabled Ohioans and offer relief to their caretakers.

“I want to encourage prosperity. Let people earn what they can, save what they can,” Brown said.

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