Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tell your Senators to Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) !

as shared by American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), and Ability Chicago completely supports...
American Association of People with Disabilities

We need you to take two minutes to tell your Senators to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Opponents of the treaty continue to work to stop ratification, and we need advocates like you to stand up to them. We need more U.S. Senators like Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-D) and Senator Bob Corker (TN-R) to support this treaty, so we need your help!

The CRPD provides a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was the model for the CRPD. On December 4, 2012 the Senate considered the ratification of the CRPD but fell 5 votes short of the super-majority vote required. 

In addition to sending them an e-mail today, it is important for you to contact your Senators and let them know that you support the CRPD. 

We need every U.S. Senator to be contacted and to know that the disability community is leading the movement for U.S. ratification of this international disability treaty and our voice matters. We particularly need to contact Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-D) and Senator Bob Corker (TN-R) this week!

We encourage you to call and meet with your Senator or his and her staff. If your Senator is unavailable, find out if your Senator is holding a public meeting or town hall as they often do when they are back home. Go to a local event where one of your Senators will be and tell them why CRPD is important to you and that they should vote for ratification.

Go here to find your Senators' contact information and tell them:
  • I am a person with a disability (I am a family member/friend/supporter of a person with a disability) and I want you to support the disability treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • The Senate needs to fight for the 57 million Americans with disabilities, 5.5 million disabled American veterans, and the 1 billion people with disabilities around the world
  • Ratification of the disability treaty is supported by hundreds of disability organizations, civil rights groups, faith organizations, veterans groups, and major business groups including the Chamber of Commerce
  • The treaty will not cost the federal government any additional funds
  • The treaty has been reviewed by both Republican and Democratic Attorneys General and by past Counsel to Presidents. They confirm that it does not threaten the sovereignty of the U.S. nor does it require any new legislation to comply with the treaty.
  • The treaty will not harm the rights of parents with children with disabilities and would not interefere with home schooling. 
  • The treaty does not endorse abortion rights nor abortion funding around the world.
  • This treaty is good for American business and for the world. It will allow us to bring our knowledge and our products that help make society accessible to the whole world
Failure to ratify the treaty is embarrassing for the US.  We need to show the world that we support the rights for all individuals with disabilities around the globe.
Please take two minutes to send them an e-mail and contact them your Senators today.
I called! What else can I do to help?
  • Forward this alert to others in your community to lift up their voices on this important issue.   
  • Add your voice by joining the petition!
  • TWEET! You can also join the conversation on Twitter by following #ISupportCRPD and tweeting to Senator Corker at @SenBobCorker and Senator Menendez at @SenatorMenendez
To find out more, please go to http://www.disabilitytreaty.org. You can find one pagers, myth/facts, and access a new community webinar. 

OPINION, as submitted to 'Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force' by ABILITY CHICAGO Ex. Dir. Jim Watkins

OPINION, as submitted to 'Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force'...

With Illinois Gov. Quinn appointing a Task Force to examine Public Transit in Northeastern Illinois. With longtime questions of the responsibility and oversight of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA); the continuing issues and any real oversight of Metra; the on-again/off-again  service issues and again oversight with both Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace Suburban Bus (and Paratransit services). The examining of the Board of Directors, Senior Staff, and departments and their roles at RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace.

As a Public Transit Advocate (and public transit geek) over the last decade for People with Disabilities having served on various Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Advisory Committees/Boards for RTA, Pace and CTA, Pace Paratransit Blue Ribbon Committee, RTA AD-Hoc Paratransit Transition Committee, and as past Chair of the RTA Regional ADA Advisory Committee (2006-2010) there must be at least the understanding of public transit in general, and the relationships with the public.

The Transit Agencies of Northeastern Illinois also have different forms of Advisory Boards/Committees such as Citizens and ADA Advisory Boards/Committees. The formation, responsibility to, and treatment of such Advisory Boards/Committees vary from purpose, responsibility, and oversight with the transit agencies, and their Board of Directors. The acknowledgement and responsibility of the transit agencies are diverse, even with there own Advisory Boards/Committees purpose. The appointments to such Advisory Boards/Committees vary from transit agency, and within each transit agency itself. By definition members of such Advisory Boards/Committees are ‘officers’ of the transit agencies, and at the minimum the transit agencies have the responsibility of complying with the Illinois Open Meetings Act, and Illinois Code of Ethics Act’s. The responsibility of the Transit Agencies vary, and with no one verifying if such accordance is within place at the transit agencies.

In closing, while the purpose of the Task Force is to examine the diverse and complicated Public Transit entities, consider that diverse Advisory boards and committees within our system. The Board of Directors, and senior staff of the transit agencies have responsibility to the public, and one of the relationship’s are the Advisory Committees/Boards that can and do offer opinions for the public transit system of Northeastern Illinois.

James Watkins; Exec. Director
Ability Chicago
Sept. 09, 2013

UPDATES: For the 'Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force' webpage: CLICK HERE

Oct. 16, 2013
The draft of final report from the  NEIL Public Transit Task Force link (PDF): CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Adults with disabilities hop on the bus : Pace Suburban Bus travel training program

Hop On The Bus to Independence professional trainers and Our Place of New Trier Township workshop participants | Submitted photo
Hop On The Bus to Independence professional trainers and Our Place of New Trier Township workshop participants | Submitted photo


Learn more about the Hop On The Bus To Independence workshops.
Pace Suburban Bus and JJ's List teach public transportation skills to Our Place of New Trier Township.
Young adults with intellectual and learning disabilities got a hands-on learning experience last week when a real Pace bus and a team of five professional trainers from Pace, jjslist.com and RTA arrived at their Wilmette space.  The team’s mission?  To teach the basics of riding Pace Suburban Bus fixed-route buses.
During the interactive workshop, called “Hop on the Bus to Independence,” learners boarded the Pace bus and learned about bus features, such as how to read the signs and what to do with the yellow cord.  Then, learners stepped into an Internet classroom, where they learned the ins and outs of planning a trip using www.rtachicago.com.
“One of the greatest barriers to employment and community inclusion for people with disabilities is their ability to take public transportation,” said JJ Hanley, Director of jjslist.com and creator of the Hop on the Bus program.   “Through this intensive, hands-one experience, learners build confidence and skills to ride the bus safely and successfully.
Hop On The Bus to Independence is sponsored by Pace Suburban Bus in partnership with jjslist.com.  The workshops are available free to any public or private school, agency or service provider located within the six-county region served by Pace Suburban Bus (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will).
“What a great experience today,” said William Johnson, Executive Director of Our Place of New Trier Township.  “I was totally impressed by the program. It has already inspired the staff to think of activities/programs that will allow our participants to practice and develop the skills they learned today.”
article from 'WILMETTE LIFE' September 06, 2013...

guinness wheelchairs basketball commercial - video

YouTube Published on Sep 3, 2013 by Edward Heising

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Best Kept Secret" PBS - NJ public school staff race the clock for graduating Students with Disabilities future


PBS Premiere: September 23, 2013
Online: Sept. 24, 2013 – Oct. 7, 2013


At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, "You've reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark's best-kept secret." JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they "age out" of the system. (90 minutes)

Why the CTA's Stroller Policy Irritates Me as a Mom : or (the world owes me)

Megan Cottrell

Posted: 06/27/2013 

Why the CTA's Stroller Policy Irritates Me as a Mom

I avoid taking the CTA these days. For one, it's a big hassle with Teddy. How exactly am I supposed to hold down the button for the disabled entrance, push open the heavy door and drag the stroller through at once? Unclear.
Then there's the CTA's stroller policy, complete with these signs. I have no problem with being courteous, but these rules just don't make sense:

One: keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways. I don't know if these folks have ever traveled the CTA with a stroller, but if I don't stay near the door, I will never be able to get out when my stop comes. Second, if I'm not going to be in the aisle or the doorway, where exactly do you want me to go? Should I pick up the stroller and put it on a pair of seats?
Two: move if a senior or disabled person get on. Yes, good point, but that just seems like common courtesy. There are plenty of single riders who don't do this. Sometimes, people are less than courteous, like the guy who didn't wear deodorant on that sticky July day or the lady whose iPod is turned up so loud that you can easily sing along to her favorite playlist. ATribune story on the stroller policy noted a man who wouldn't let an old lady off because he was trying to get his kid's stroller on. I agree that that was rude, but I think it's the guy who's to blame. The stroller was just an accessory. He would have probably been trying to push that poor old lady out of the way whether he had a kid in tow or not.
The next one I have no problem with. I am happy to buckle my kid so he doesn't try to perform an escape act while on transit.
The last two really get me though.
"If the bus or train is crowded, you may be requested to fold your stroller before boarding or wait for the next bus or train"
Fold my stroller? And do what with it, exactly? How am I supposed to hold my nearly 30 lb. toddler and the stroller, plus any other crap we may be carrying -- diaper bag, purse, groceries, etc.? I think what they're saying is that I should have two parents on the train, one to carry baby, one to carry stuff. Good idea, but that is not a luxury I always have.
And why should a person with a kid have to be the one to wait for another bus or train? That just seems mean. I don't think we should get special privileges, but it seems odd to single someone out to be left behind because they have a stroller.
And last, the umbrella stroller. Again, good idea, except an umbrella stroller has its problems. First, you can't put a little baby in an umbrella stroller. A kid has to be at least four to six months old, so they can sit up on their own. Second, an umbrella stroller might be fine for a trip to the mall or the zoo, but it's quite impractical for most city travel. You get stuck on every bump in the sidewalk. Umbrella stroller versus snow? No contest. And there's no room for me to stash anything, like my groceries or shopping bags, which are tough to carry, since I'm pushing a stroller and trying to keep my kid happy.
A baby carrier can be a good option sometimes, but not always. Having a baby strapped to me on a hot summer day? No thanks.
A lady once told Liz that parents should always carry their kids, until the kid could walk, and then they should hoof it. I'm guessing that lady never tried carrying a 20-pound butterball of a baby for several hours straight nor has she climbed the millions of stairs at the Argyle red line with a person who takes each stair one at a time.
I understand that some people are rude, and rude people are a bummer. But most parents are just doing their best. They want to stay out of your way. They do not appreciate your stink eye. More than anyone, they don't want their kid to start screaming on the train. They are good citizens, trying to raise good citizens. Can we get the benefit of the doubt and a little understanding that traveling the CTA with a little one is not the easiest of tasks? The trouble with rude people is that they are not conscientious or self-aware. They don't read signs and think to themselves, "Oh! Perhaps I should stop being rude for the benefit of humanity!"
You don't want us to clog up the streets or steal parking spaces with our family-friendly vehicles. But you don't want us to take the CTA either. Should we bike? Then again, a lady recently rolled down the window of her Cadillac to tell me I shouldn't be cycling with Teddy down a quiet residential street. What gives? I guess I should just stay home.
Again, I agree that we should all be courteous. But these little signs make me feel less courteous, not more. Sharing space with others means that sometimes, we get in each other's way. Things are not always easy. Kids cry. People talk too loud. Someone is eating a very smelly sandwich. And kids need to ride in strollers most of the time.
Let's make a deal: I will try to stay out of your way with my giant stroller, and in return, you try to understand that I'm doing my best. Remember how you're always saying that motherhood is the hardest job in the world? Me with a stroller on the CTA is no exception, and I need your kindness, not your scorn.

I did post this response at the original HuffPost page, but seems to have magically disappeared...
Ms Cottrell,
Is it right that other passengers for access to the bus aisle to the rear of the bus, or even the front of the bus must crawl over your "30 lb. toddler and the stroller, plus any other crap we may be carrying -- diaper bag, purse, groceries, etc.? "
Is it right that the SUV Stroller parks itself in the "Priority Seating" which  by Federal Regulations is intended for for People with Disabilities (of all ages)? 
Is it right that our seniors, people with disabilities (and those with unseen disabilities) will crawl over the Suv Stroller, or have to stand for there journey, (which can cause injury to them selves, as well as others if they fall), or wait for the next bus.

As a person that uses a wheelchair, I have been told I have to wait for the next bus, and have witnessed other wheelchair users told the same - because a SUV Stroller is in Priority Seating.
The CTA is enforcing (hopefully, maybe, sort-of) its own Stroller Policy finally after 10 years.
Sorry you feel less courteous because of 'these little signs'. 
Sorry you feel that is you used a umbrella stroller would be a in-convenience to you.
I will offer a suggestion for you though, the article could of been titled "ME ME ME"
Jim Watkins, Ability Chicago
CTA Stroller Policy:

Children in strollers

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.
Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.
Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.
Please fold your stroller in the event that a bus or train becomes crowded, in order to make room for others. Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. Please follow their instructions. Also, during certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.
Children in an open stroller should be seated and secured in the stroller before boarding the bus or train.
Note that strollers are never allowed on escalators. If traveling with an open stroller in a multi-level facility, please use elevators or ramps where available. On train station platforms, position your stroller parallel to the platform edge (not facing it), use wheel locks/brakes and stay with it at all times.

Survey Finds 7 in 10 with disabilities say they’ve been abused

Survey Finds Disability Abuse Widespread

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More than 7 in 10 with disabilities say they’ve been abused, according to a new national survey, and in many cases individuals say the problems occur repeatedly.
In what’s believed to be the largest survey of its kind, over 7,200 people with disabilities, family members, advocates, service providers and other professionals were polled between May and October 2012.
The findings, released this week, suggest that abuse of people with disabilities is widespread across the country and often overlooked.
More than 70 percent of those with disabilities polled said they had been abused and over 60 percent of family members indicated that their loved one with special needs had been mistreated.
In about half of cases, victims said they experienced physical abuse. Some 40 percent reported sexual abuse and nearly 90 percent of those who said they had been violated indicated they were verbally or emotionally harmed. Neglect and financial abuse were also frequently cited.
“Too many people are abused too much, with very little on the response side to help in the aftermath,” said Nora J. Baladerian, director of the Disability and Abuse Project, which conducted the survey. “The extent of abuse is epidemic, and the inadequate response is disturbing.”
Among those who were victimized, more than 9 in 10 said they were abused more than once with 57 percent indicating they had experienced mistreatment more than 20 times, the survey found.
Incidents of abuse were not reported in about half of cases and even when authorities were alerted, survey results indicate that arrests were made only about 10 percent of the time.
Findings from the survey are expected to be presented next week at the National Center for Victims of Crime conference in Phoenix and at a joint conference of the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association in October in Washington, D.C.

Ringler Radio interviews President and CEO of AAPD, Mark Perriello

AAPD's President and CEO Mark Perriello was interviewed on Ringler Radio to talk about AAPD and tax reform, including how structured settlements impact people with disabilities.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is the driving force behind assisting people with disabilities. In this podcast, Ringler Radio host Larry Cohen joins co-host, Randy Dyer, and special guest, Mark Perriello, the President and CEO of the AAPD , to talk about some of the important work that the AAPD is doing this year and the proposed Federal tax reform that could impact people with disabilities, as well as those who have structured settlements.
Visit Ringler Associates to contact a consultant in your area about structured settlements.

U.S. Cities tightening grip on disabled parking placard abuse

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A blue placard dangling from the rear-view mirror is the equivalent of parking gold for drivers in many cities — they can park for free and for as long as they want. Now there's a gold rush on for them.
And as the number of vehicles displaying a disabled placard has soared with an aging population and loosened eligibility standards, cities are seeing the impact in more congested downtowns and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue.
Now, officials are pushing back, tightening standards for those who can get the placards and making sure that the only people who get the privilege are those who really need it.
"It was astonishing to see car after car after car with the disabled placard," said Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, who is seeking a solution to the problem in a city with a reputation for bicycling and mass transit but still reliant on the car.
It's common in the city to find blocks in which there are more cars with placards than without. Stroll by a parking meter and you will see the placards through the windshields of both beaters and BMWs.
In the city's annual survey of roughly 9,000 downtown meters, just over 1,000 vehicles had disabled placards in October 2012, a 72 percent increase in five years. In the core area of downtown, a third of the vehicles had placards.
As a result, Portland lost an estimated $2.4 million in meter revenue last year, and the lack of turnover frustrates store owners, deprives the severely disabled of spaces near their destination and forces drivers to circle blocks in search of a spot.
Authorities issued 186 citations for unlawful use of a permit the fiscal year ending June 30, but believe there is more abuse.
Cheaters are tough to catch because the placard is generally valid and the driver, who may be borrowing one, is only at the car for a couple of minutes during the workday.
Experts say the easiest way to stop abuse is to make the disabled pay the meter, especially those not in wheelchairs. Places such as Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., and Arlington County, Va., did so and there was more turnover in the spots.
The Illinois Legislature passed a law that takes effect next year in which free-metered parking will be reserved for only the most severely disabled residents. It was spurred in part by Chicago's decision to privatize its parking meters. As part of the deal, it agreed to reimburse the company for free parking provided to holders of disabled placards. The tab since 2009: $55 million.
"Economically, a free parking pass is a very nice thing to have, and there are always enough people who are a bit unscrupulous when it comes to parking that you can't expect self-restraint," said Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking.
One of Shoup's former students, Jonathan Williams, researched curbside parking in Los Angeles while getting his master's degree, finding that cars with placards took most spots when the workday began and often didn't leave until it ended.
On one block in the financial district, placards consumed 80 percent of the total meter hours. Though the spaces were occupied 95 percent of the time, meters that charged $4 an hour collected an average of only 28 cents an hour.
California started issuing placards in 1959 to people unable to move without a wheelchair. Within two decades, it was expanded to include people with breathing problems and general mobility problems.
"We looked back from 1990 to 2010, even normalized for population growth, there was a 350 percent increase in the number of placards issued in California," Williams said. "Even if there was no abuse, there are a lot of placards in circulation."
Oregon has issued placards to 354,000 of its 3 million drivers. Those authorized to sign a permit include doctors of medicine, chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists, optometrists, naturopaths, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Portland's Disabled Parking Task Force asked the Oregon Medical Association in 2010 to remind doctors about the impact of improper placards, and recommended temporary permits instead of ones that can be valid for years until a driver's license expires.
Betty Brislawn, 84, uses a placard because she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A task force member, Brislawn said there are many cheaters, but you can't assume people with internal problems are less worthy of a placard than those in wheelchairs.
"My oxygen level, if I walk fast, will go down to 83 and that means I'm in really dire trouble; I could pass out," she said. "But otherwise I look fine."
Novick doesn't have a placard, though he was born with missing fibula bones and no left hand. The 4-foot-9 commissioner said ensuring open spaces for those with severe mobility problems should be the city's focus.
"Being really short, I would kind of like it if grocery stores had tongs you could use to take things off the top shelf," he joked. "That would be a good accommodation, but I still think I should have to pay for the groceries."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

HUD TOWNHALL MEETING - For Chicago HUD property based section 8 subsidized tenants only -SEPT 10

You are invited to attend a HUD TOWNHALL MEETING
For Chicago HUD property based section 8 subsidized tenants only
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 1:00 – 3:00 pm at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave.
If you have any of the following issues with your landlord:
·         Repairs being done in a timely manner
·         Security
·         Bedbugs
·         Retaliation
·         Recertification
·         Management Harassment
·         Annual Inspections
Please attend this important Town Hall Meeting. This is your chance to express your concerns to the new:

HUD Director Dan Burke, Chicago Multi Family HUB
HUD Senior Project Manager George Gilmore
For more information contact Robert Clack at MTO, 773.292.4980 ext. 242

Disability is the other Social Security fight we need to have now

By Mark Miller, column...
CHICAGO, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The year 2035 is far off in the future - and that's one reason Congress has kicked the can down the road so many times when it comes to Social Security reform.
The program's retirement trust fund is projected to be depleted that year, requiring sharp cuts in benefits if nothing is done. Closing the shortfall calls for tough choices that invite political procrastination - revenue increases, benefit cuts or some combination of the two.
Then there's 2016, which is just around the corner. Congress will need to take action by then if it wants to avert painful benefit cuts in the retirement program's first cousin - Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.
SSDI and the Old-Age & Survivors retirement programs really are joined at the hip. Both are social insurance programs designed to protect against the risk of lost income - one in the event of retirement, the other, disability. They also share a funding source: the payroll tax. The retirement program is much larger; currently, workers and employers pay a combined 12.4 percent employees' payroll, with 10.6 percent going to the retirement fund and 1.8 percent toward disability.
SSDI's trust fund will be depleted in 2016, which would translate into a 20 percent cut in benefits to nine million disabled people and an additional 2 million dependents who rely on benefits from it.
The problem, and its solution, are right in front of us, but easily avoided. All Congress needs to do is reallocate a small portion of payroll tax revenues from the retirement to the disability program. Reallocations have been done at least six times in the past- most recently in 1994 - with funds moving in both directions. These reallocations have not been controversial, and this time around, a shift of just 1/10th of 1 percent would equalize the long-range outlook of the two trust funds, according to Stephen Goss, the Social Security Administration's chief actuary.
But this time could be different. Congress is headed toward another dangerous game of chicken over the debt ceiling, and Republicans likely will try to insist on entitlement program cuts as part of a deal.
The disability program already has been the target for a barrage of criticism from the right and some media outlets, which have argued that SSDI is running amok. The basic narrative is that SSDI is rife with fraud and that out-of-work baby boomers too young for retirement benefits are freeloading by getting disability benefits.
All of which suggests that SSDI could fall victim to polarized fiscal politics in Washington, with very real and difficult consequences for disabled Americans.
There's no doubt that a program the size of SSDI is subject to some abuse. There also may be some sensible ways to reform the program to give people incentive to get back to work following a disability.
It's also true that the disability rolls have been growing. This year, the program is paying benefits to 9 million disabled workers, up from 5.9 million in 2003.
Most of the growth is due to simple demographics. The boomer cohort has moved into the years when they are more likely to be disabled. The rates double from age 40 to 50, and again from 50 to 60, and the sharp jump in female labor force participation rates means more women are covered by SSDI, as well.
SSDI's costs also have been boosted by the retirement program's rising eligibility age. SSDI beneficiaries automatically move to the retirement program when they reach full retirement age. That age is rising gradually, from 65 to 67. The current retirement age of 66 kept an additional 400,000 people age 65 to 66 on the SSDI rolls for an additional year in 2011, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Contrary to the freeloader narrative some Social Security opponents want to promote, many SSDI recipients are just struggling to make ends meet.
A recent Urban Institute paper found that the SSDI population has lower lifetime income and accumulates less wealth. SSDI provides a majority of family income for nearly half of all recipients and more than two-thirds of unmarried beneficiaries. The average monthly check in 2011 was $1,399 for men and $1,078 for women. SSDI replaces, on average, half of what beneficiaries earned before they entered the program.
Poverty rates are highest for younger disability recipients - 31 percent of beneficiaries age 31-49 had family income below the federal poverty line. Older recipients (age 60-64), were 1.6 times more likely to live below the poverty line.
Reallocation is the right thing to do - it won't worsen the combined OAS/SSDI long-range short-fall and it would give Congress more time to take a considered approach to the program's overall financial needs. Lawmakers have to act no later than 2015 to avert sharp disability benefit cuts.
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Click For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

Wanted - 'Outreach Associate' - The National Low Income Housing Coalition

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The United for Homes campaign is strongest with a broad and active coalition of endorsers. Help build the base of support for the campaign by spreading the word about NLIHC's recruitment of a new Outreach Associate.  This position is based in Washington, D.C., and will focus on expanding support for the United for Homes campaign as well as other federal housing policies. Please see the full job posting below and forward it widely to your networks.

Thank you!
Outreach Associate
The National Low Income Housing Coalition in Washington, D.C. seeks a well-qualified and talented outreach associate. As one of a three-person team, the outreach associate will mobilize our members on federal policy advocacy in a manner that advances our mission; assist in the design and implementation of campaign field strategies; and conduct outreach activities in specific states. The outreach associate will spend at least 50% of his or her time on the United for Homes campaign.   
The position requires knowledge of federal housing policy; strong written and oral communication skills; and excellent electronic technology skills, including high proficiency in database management and social media use.  Priority consideration will be given to candidates with proven organizing experience that mobilized a community or constituent base and led to a significant legislative victory at the national or state level.   
A Bachelor’s degree is required. The position is based in Washington, D.C., but some travel is required. A commitment to social justice is a core qualification for employment. NLIHC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.   

Interested candidates should forward a cover letter, salary requirements, resume, and a writing sample to Bill Shields, Vice President of Operations, 727 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005, or to bill@nlihc.org. No phone calls, please.

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Home Care - Webinar: Sept 16th - RSVP

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is Hosting..

Meeting Description:

Learn How to Get the Best Possible Home Care!

Monday, September 16th, 20132:00 - 3:30 PM EDT
While the definition of good care will vary from person to person, there are basic elements that make up quality home care. This webinar will give you a roadmap for what quality care at home should look like and action steps you can take if you feel you are not getting quality care.
This webinar will cover:

  • What quality home care looks like
  • How to get quality care 
  • Action steps you can take if you feel you’re not getting quality care
  • Personal experiences from a consumer perspective
Participants will receive an agenda and presentation materials prior to the webinar.We hope you take the opportunity to register for this webinar today!
  • Beverley Laubert, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Ohio Department of Aging
  • Jackie Majoros, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Vermont Legal Aid, Inc.
  • Denise Hok, A Consumer of Services
  • Sara Cirba, Associate for Advocacy and Development, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care 
*Registration is required.
Registration is limited and is first-come, first-served, so register now!  

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Minimum Wage Increase? - Labor laws allow workers with disabilities to earn less than minimum wage

with the proposal of increasing the minimum wage, still some disabled workers not even paid minimum wages...

Labor laws allow workers with disabilities to earn less than minimum wage

May 28, 2013

By: Shannon Heffernan ; WBEZ91 Radio - Chicago

(WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)
Michael Grice outside Access Living, an organization working for the labor conditions for disabled workers. Grice says having a job with standard wages is a human right.
There’s currently proposed legislation for a higher minimum wage at both the state and federal level. But some of the fastest growing fields, like homecare and restaurant workers, aren’t included in the minimum wage. WBEZ’s Front and Center series, Exceptions to the Rule, introduces you to people who aren’t protected by the same labor laws as everyone else.
When I meet Michael Grice, he’s sharply dressed in a turquoise pinstripe shirt and nice beige slacks. He says people are quick to judge him because he has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, so he pays special attention to his appearance.
A few years ago, Grice moved into supportive housing at Ada S McKinley. The agency provided him with a job doing piece work in one of their workshops.  Grice remembers filling bubble gum machines and packing boxes. He hated the repetition of the work. He had previously done marketing at a University Gym and worked as a customer service representative at a bank.
But even worse, were the wages. Ada S. McKinley has a special license called a 14c, which allows them to pay workers with disabilities below the minimum wage. The license was originally written into the Fair Labor Act of 1938. The agency said it allowed them to hire people for jobs they otherwise might not get because of their disabilities.
Under the license worker's wage is calculated based on their individual ability.
For Grice, it was less than a dollar an hour.
“To buy the essential things was impossible," Grice said. "To buy clothes, to get a haircut, to buy hygiene products. It was just impossible to do.” 
Grice’s pride in his appearance was compromised. He also couldn’t afford to go to movies, or out to dinner, so he was rarely out in public.  He says that made him feel isolated and the wages made him feel unworthy.
“I was embarrassed to cash a check that was $5.40 for 2 weeks," Grice said. "I didn’t even bother to cash my check. It was, believe me, very degrading.” 
Grice’s wages aren’t that unique for workers with disabilities. According to the National Core Indicators, the majority of people in Illinois facility-based jobs (jobs in workshops separated from the general public) earned less than $2.50 an hour. Less than 10 percent earned at least the Federal Minimum wage.
Still, the licensed agencies say they are doing important work.
(WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)
Envision's facility in Logan Square hires workers to make placemats at subminimum wages. The organization also trains people with disabilities to make and sell art.
Envision Unlimited serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Susan Gardner is its Division Director of Day and Employment Services.
In their offices, people played card games, or relaxed in an area with quiet music and lowlights. In another area, a young man showed me his paintings of caves and another displayed a carpet he was weaving. Both will be able to sell their artwork through Envision, for a portion of the profits.
The actual workshop has cutting tables and big industrial looms. This is where people work the hourly jobs.
The organization gets contracts from for-profit organizations to make tablecloths and napkins. But Gardner stresses that Envision is a non-profit and says all the money they bring in from the contracts goes directly to materials or workers wages.
“If we weren’t allowed to pay subminimum wages and then those people would not be able to earn a check,” Gardner said. “And you can see they are invested in what they are doing, they are taking a lot of pride. And it’s preparing them to take those jobs into the community and really be a functioning part of the community and the work world out there.”
Envision says that about 60 people they employ now have regular jobs. Including two women who have worked at Shedd Aquarium for over 30 years.
But work placement rates like Envision’s are rare. 95 percent of people with these sub-minimum wage jobs never go on to get regular work. Illinois is particularly weak. It ranks 44th in terms of placing people with disabilities in regular jobs. And over a hundred organizations in Illinois hold the 14c license that allows them to pay subminimum wages.
While many organizations continue to pay workers subminimum wages under 14c licenses, concerned that there are no alternatives, other disability organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind and The Organization for the Severely Handicap (TASH)  have picked up subminimum wages as a civil rights issue.
Advocates have been especially critical of larger organizations like Goodwill, where executive directors earn huge salaries and have multimillion dollar budgets, while workers make very little. Beyond wages, advocates say that segregating workers into special workshops, goes against the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Rene Luna organizes with Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWWN) and is an advocate with Access Living.
“It doesn’t help our perceptions of disability,” Luna said.
A few bills have tried to eliminate the subminimum wage, but never successfully. And this current round of minimum wage conversations doesn’t seem like it will end it either.
In order to change things, Luna says we have to think about work differently.  
“We have to not think about a job description and trying to fit a disabled person into that description, but consider reasonable accommodations,” Luna said.
Grice for example, was put in a job that required him to assemble materials, even though his disability meant he lacked hand dexterity.  One day, about 5 months into his job, he looked down at his work, frustrated with how slowly it was moving.
“I just said to myself I can’t do this anymore, I can't do this.”
Grice asked his social worker to take him out of the program and help him find a job in marketing or outreach, like he had before at the gym and bank.
“Her response was, ‘we are doing the best we can do. Just go along for now and we will try our best,’” Grice said.
But Grice didn’t want to just wait. Many other people in workshops are afraid to speak up or leave, explained Grice. Keep in mind these organizations sometimes also provide housing, transportation and other services.
Grice felt like if he was able, it was his responsibility to take a stand. So he’s left it all behind. He now organizes with DAWWN, lives in a nursing home and is looking for a job.