Find resources on: applying for Social Security benefits, Medicare premiums, post-high school transition, health records maintenance, disability etiquette, home ownership, and other topics of living with disability.
Cutting red tape for disability applicants
Good news (probably) for people with neuromuscular diseases who hope to qualify for financial aid from the federal government: The U.S. Social Security Administration in September said it has expanded its Quick Disability Determination (QDD) Process.
Uncle Sam’s Social Security disability insurance program pays monetary benefits to people with disabilities who have paid Social Security taxes and worked long enough. A related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), makes monthly payments to people with disabilities who have limited income and resources.
The problem with obtaining those benefits historically has been the wait time — sometimes more than three years before being found qualified for disability compensation.
QDD is intended to alleviate the problem. First tried on a trial basis in New England, the QDD process (a computer model) evaluates data in the electronic application of a person who seeks either disability insurance or SSI assistance. Social Security found the program worked well to reduce application backlogs in the New England test run, so now the agency has extended QDD to all 50 states.
Reportedly, QDD will work in conjunction with other efforts to streamline the disability compensation application process even more. Those efforts include updating descriptions of medical conditions, reorganizing the bureaucratic structure and hiring more administrative law judges to hear applicants’ cases.
For more information, visit the Social Security Web site.
Benefits increase in 2008
The Social Security Administration announced a 2.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries for 2008.
For people with disabilities, the substantial gainful activity (SGA) will rise to $940 per month ($900 in 2007). The maximum federal payment for an individual with a disability is $637, up from $623 last year; for married couples, $956 per month, up from $934. SSI resource limits will remain at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for married couples.
To learn more about your benefits, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call (800) 772-1213.
Medicare premiums rise for 2008
The standard Medicare Part B monthly premium has increased 3.1 percent to $96.40 in 2008, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Part B monthly premium covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment and other items. For more info, go to www.medicare.gov or call (800) 633-4227.
Store, manage medical records for free
Microsoft has launched a secure Web site called HealthVault, allowing users to store and share their personal health records at no cost. Users can store their medical histories, catalog existing health records, receive test results, search the Internet for the most up-to-date treatments and more.
Users can download medical information, such as laboratory results or X-rays, from the Web sites of their health care providers or data from digital devices, and store the data on HealthVault. Users also can provide access to their personal health records to physicians, family members and others. However, the user controls who can see and use any personal health information on a case-by-case basis.
To learn more or create an account, go to www.healthvault.com.
New national center seeks to improve post-high-school success of youth with disabilities
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has awarded a $1.85 million grant establishing a National Technical Assistance Center on Transition and Employment, designed to help youth with disabilities graduate from high school and continue their education or enter the workforce.
Created under the auspices of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development in Washington, the technical assistance center will conduct research and disseminate information about ways to improve postsecondary outcomes for youth with disabilities.
'Disability Etiquette' pamphlet available online in English, Spanish
The United Spinal Association’s pamphlet, “Disability Etiquette,” provides basic information about interacting with people with disabilities, along with facts about service animals, emergency evacuation procedures, conflict management and signage.
For a free copy of the English or Spanish version (“Reglas de Etiqueta frente a una Persona con Discapacidad”), go to www.unitedspinal.org, or call (800) 444-0120.
Removing barriers to home ownership
ABILITY Awareness established the ABILITY House Program to help provide home ownership opportunities to people with disabilities. Built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, each house is an accessible home built for a family with at least one member who has a health condition or disability.
If you’re interested in applying for an ABILITY house, contact your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, and learn about the criteria for potential homeowners at www.habitat.org.
Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness
The site offers free information, links to resources and advocacy services in such areas as accessing your medical records, private health and disability insurance, SSDI, and how to assert your rights under the ADA.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers
You can click on your state to find a center in your area.
Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA provides resources to help transit systems, public officials, advocates and community members explore community needs, vehicle equipment, paratransit service, policies, training and compliance for passengers with disabilities.
The site offers everything from features on health and living to world news, classifieds, career center and social networking. You can check out or post events in your area, read up on the latest medical news, write a review on the accessibility of businesses and restaurants, or participate in a forum.
Empowerment for Americans with Disabilities: Breaking Barriers to Careers and Full Employment
The National Council on Disability’s report presents information on the perspectives of employers, people with disabilities and disability specialists about assists and barriers to employment.
Find, Choose & Keep Great DSPs: Toolkits for Families and People with Disabilities
The downloadable toolkits from the University of Minnesota’s Research & Training Center on Community Living provide information on where to find qualified, caring and committed Direct Support Professionals, and how to train and support DSPs. A $30 spiral-bound hard copy of the Toolkit, with a CD that includes activities and worksheets, can be ordered online or by calling (612) 625-1566.
Health Coverage of Children: The Role of Medicaid and SCHIP
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured’s fact sheet summarizes the latest coverage data on the nation’s children, and examines the roles played by Medicaid and SCHIP.
Once you sign up and receive a password, you can have direct Internet access to your Medicare benefits, eligibility, enrollment (including prescription drug plans) and preventive health information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You also can view your claims information, access online forms and publications, and receive important messages from Medicare.
National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers
Locate a qualified rehabilitation technology specialist in your area.
Our Special Kids
The virtual community for parents of children with special needs is a free resource that offers articles, a newsletter, links to other resources, a parent forum where parents can get advice and support from other parents, and more.
Service Animals in Places of Business
This updated document from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division/Disability Rights Section answers commonly asked questions about the use of service animals in places of business.
Too Sick to Work, Too Soon for Medicare
This 2007 report from the Medicare Rights Center discusses the adverse effects caused by Medicare’s two-year waiting period for people with disabilities. It details the real-life stories of 21 individuals, including two people with the neuromuscular condition post-polio syndrome.