the advocacy monitor

independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

ADAPT FUN RUN for Disability Rights: April 19, 2015!

Dear Disability Rights Supporters:

You can support ADAPT and disability rights by registering for the 2015 FUN RUN for Disability Rights!

ADAPT - Free Our PeopleIf you’ve never done it, it is really simple and user friendly. Go to www.adaptfunrun.net and follow the simple instructions.

You can support ADAPT by registering for the FUN RUN, even if you’re not coming to DC by registering as a Virtual Runner! A Virtual Runner can be any person who wants to support ADAPT. You register the exact same way as people coming to DC.

  1. Select the Washington, DC FUN RUN.
  2. Select National ADAPT or any of the other organizations listed.
  3. When the drop down that asks you if you are going to Run, Walk or Roll appears, select Virtual Runner.

When you register, you will receive your own personal link that you can send to your email list and paste into Facebook and / or Twitter. Your information is secure and only you have access to it.

The FUN RUN is ADAPT’s major fundraiser and helps fund ADAPT’s activism to END THE INSTITUTIONAL BIAS and fight to preserve Medicaid funding.

All contributions are tax deductible. You can register until April 19th, the day of the FUN RUN in DC. If you need any assistance please call Bob at 512 431-4085. Together, we can and are making a difference.

Nancy Salandra
ADAPT Fundraising

Bob Kafka
Chair FUN RUN Coordinator

Bob Michaels Receives Spirit of ABIL Award

Many NCIL members will be familiar with Bob Michaels, who has contributed to our efforts significantly over the years. On March 24, Bob was awarded the Spirit of ABIL Award. You can read all about it at AZ Big Media. A short excerpt appears below. Congratulations, Bob!

“Bob’s style as an advocate is to motivate consumers to participate in public policy advocacy,” said Amina Kruk of ABIL who nominated Michaels for the award. “He makes a difference by training others, believing in the power of individual action and encouraging teamwork, but he does not hesitate to challenge decision makers, policies and programs that fail to promote advocacy and true independence for persons who have disabilities.”

…He also has turned his disability blog into a book, Strong Medicine…A Roadmap for Creating or Improving Your Independent Living Program.

“It’s really a field manual for those who want to start an independent living program,” Michaels said, adding that if he had one message to deliver it would be that “people can live independently. They don’t need to move into institutions. They can live on their own. Everyone should strive to be as free as they can.” Read more at AZ Big Media.

ABC Medical Announces Creation of National Adaptive Sports Month – April 2015

ABC Medical, a national leader in supporting and advocating for adaptive sports, along with the hundreds of adaptive sports organizations it partners with, announces the creation of  National Adaptive Sports Month.

ABC Medical Logo - Adapt. Believe. Compete.National Adaptive Sports Month will increase awareness to the physical, social and psychological benefits of participating in adaptive sports activities, educate the public about the thousands of adaptive sports athletes that adapt, believe and compete each week in the United States, encourage support for inclusive fitness and inclusive athletics in our schools, provide information for individuals interested in participating in adaptive sports and advocate for an increase in the financial support of adaptive sports organizations nationwide.

“Over the past three years we have been fortunate to witness the transformative effects on individuals that participate in adaptive sports or activities”, stated Keith Jones, Chairman and CEO of ABC Medical. “Our goal in creating National Adaptive Sports Month is to create awareness for all adaptive sports athletes, their families and friends and have them join together and raise awareness of the incredible benefits of adaptive sports for individuals. If you believe in the power of adaptive sports, I invite you to join the movement!”  [Read more...]

Reminder: Free Help Preparing Your Taxes

Source: Fifth Freedom, Information courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service

Haven’t completed your taxes yet? You may be eligible for free assistance with filing your taxes and applying for the Earned Income Tax Credit with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). VITA volunteers are certified and trained by the Internal Revenue Service and can help you prepare a basic return.

VITA is for people with low income, people with disabilities, seniors, and others who need special help. Find the VITA location nearest you online, or call 1-800-906-9887.

Bring the following:

  • Photo ID for you and your spouse, if filing jointly
  • Social Security Cards for you (& your spouse & dependents, if applicable)
  • Your W-2, W-2G, or 1099-R form, and your 1099 form, if applicable
  • A copy of last year’s tax return, if you filed
  • Want your refund by direct deposit?  Bring your bank routing numbers and account numbers.

This is not an exhaustive list. Call the VITA location nearest you and ask what you should bring.

For people with disabilities who file their taxes themselves, please see the Internal Revenue Service’s page on accessibility information, including large print and “talking” tax forms, and instructional videos in American Sign Language.

2015 Annual Conference Guide Now Available!

Generation ADA: Rise Up! 2015 Annual Conference on Independent Living (Image: red power fist outlined by a black circle)July 27-30, 2015; Grand Hyatt, Washington

Open our Annual Conference Guide (in PDF or plain text) to find everything you need to know about the 2015 Annual Conference.

Then, register online or by using the printable Registration Form (PDF or plain text). Online registration gives you the ability to register up to three attendees with one transaction and accepts Discover, American Express, Visa and MasterCard.

All registrations received and paid before April 29, 2015 are eligible for the Early Bird registration rates.

Visit our 2015 Annual Conference web page for:

  • Complete registration details
  • Hotel information and reservations links
  • Complete Conference agenda

Action Alert: Act Today to Support Loretta Lynch for Attorney General!

In the last 30 years, no nominee for US Attorney General has waited longer than Loretta Lynch. Loretta Lynch is more than qualified to be our next Attorney General and demonstrates a steadfast commitment to justice.

We need your help spreading the word. Please contact your Senators, especially if they are Republican. We need Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to move this vote to the full Senate today!

Loretta LynchWe need a push to all Senators, but especially from the following states: Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Act Now:

  1. Call your Senator: Contact your Senators at 1-866-338-5720. Make sure you give them your name and identify yourself as a constituent. Tell them, “Please Confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General now,” and why it is important to you. See Talking Points for more information.
  2. Send a letter (organizations and individuals): Draft your own letter or use our Sample Letter by adding your information, including name, address, and why this is important to you. Then, email or use social media to get it to your Senator!
  3. Use social media to tell your Senator to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch: All US Senators are on Twitter and their teams follow these closely. Twitter Hashtags: #LorettaLynch, #ConfirmLynch. You may also wish to join the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Twitter Storm, which occurs every Thursday 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
  4. Media outreach: Write Op-Eds for local news and talk with your local media.
  5. Thank the Republican Senators who have publicly stated that they will vote to confirm Lynch: Collins (ME), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), and Hatch (UT).

[Read more...]

Information Alert: AAPD Breaks Agreement with Disability Community; Puts Advocacy Efforts at Risk

It is with deep disappointment that we announce the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has decided to break the agreement reached with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and ADAPT. AAPD had agreed to withdraw an amicus brief supporting changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act companionship exemption with the recognition that – although well-intended – these changes would seriously hurt people with disabilities and their attendants.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAAPD has privately notified us that it will not abide by its agreement with us and now will not withdraw the brief. AAPD has not released any public statement announcing this decision. The decision was communicated by two AAPD board members who, when asked, agreed that the decision to tell ADAPT and NCIL that the organization was withdrawing the brief was made to avoid a group of ADAPTers protesting at their fundraising gala.

We are deeply disappointed by the actions of AAPD, not only for breaking their agreement, but with the way the organization is making decisions that significantly impact the lives of people with disabilities. A core value of the Disability Community is communicated through the phrase “Nothing about Us without Us!” which means that no policy should be decided without the full and direct participation of members of the group(s) affected by that policy. AAPD failed to involve anyone directly impacted by this decision in their decision-making process.  [Read more...]

Action Alert: Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act Threatens to Weaken ADA

The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1189) is being considered in the House as a measure to clarify the rules regarding employer wellness programs, and the Senate has introduced an identical bill. This legislation has the potential to be extremely harmful to individuals with disabilities, because it would make it significantly easier to discriminate against employees with disabilities.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingH.R. 1189 would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by narrowing privacy protections for individuals with disabilities whose employers have employee wellness programs. Companies would be allowed to impose harsh penalties on employees who refuse to disclose personal medical information, and individuals who do participate in wellness programs may potentially be penalized for failing to meet certain standards, even if they are not able to be met because of a disability.

Congresswoman Slaughter (D-NY) and House Democratic Whip Hoyer (D-MD) released a joint statement against this legislation, calling it a “clear attack on Americans’ privacy” and stating that it would put the ADA’s protections at risk for workers and their families. NCIL signed on to a letter (PDF) the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) submitted to President Obama, and NCIL staff has joined other disability rights organizations in several conversations with the Administration and Congress.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1189 on Tuesday, which is available to view on YouTube. Additional information can also be found at the Committee’s website.

Last week the EEOC sent a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget, and it is supposed address the interaction of the ADA and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with respect to these wellness programs. While the EEOC has brought lawsuits against several employers who substantially penalized employees who wouldn’t provide personal medical information, there is significant pressure to allow wellness programs to continue functioning without having to adhere to the ADA. Once the EEOC’s NPRM is approved, it will be published in the Federal Register for a public comment period, and it’s important that we stay on top of this!

We need to make sure our voices are heard, so once the NPRM is published, get your comments in. Also, make sure to contact your Representative and let him or her know that you oppose H.R. 1189. This bill will take away some of the protections that our community has fought so hard for, and we have to act on this now!

Action Alert: Tell Congress Now Is the Time to Invest in Independent Living!

The House and Senate Budget Committees have both recently released FY16 budget resolutions. Both budgets propose trillions of dollars in cuts, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and include significant changes to Medicaid that would likely result in substantial cuts. These budget cuts will be detrimental to people with disabilities.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingCenters for Independent Living provide services to millions of individuals with disabilities annually, and in doing so, we save the federal government millions of dollars every year. Yet CILs have been underfunded for decades. With the addition of transition as a federally mandated fifth core service, it is more important than ever to invest in Independent Living!

NCIL staff and board members have met with both House and Senate appropriations staff, and have also submitted an appropriations request for an increase of $200 million for the Independent Living line item in the FY16 budget. But our members of Congress need to hear form their constituents! With appropriations requests going in, now is the time to make our requests. Please call your Senators and Representatives and tell them that Independent Living is essential, and demand that they invest in people with disabilities!

Act Today and Tomorrow: Cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on the Table

Today, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) filed Amendment 667 to the Senate Budget Resolution, in order to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to “ensure that individuals do not simultaneously receive unemployment compensation and disability insurance benefits”.

Read CCD’s Fact Sheet about Amendment 667 (PDF or plain text).

As the U.S. Senate considers its 2016 budget resolution, cuts to benefits for people who receive both SSDI and Unemployment Insurance (UI) are on the table are.

Senators Flake and Manchin’s amendment would cut these extremely modest but vital benefits. More amendments are possible. Action on amendments and the budget resolution is expected today and tomorrow.

SSDI and UI are earned benefits, paid for by workers and their employers. Workers who qualify for both should be able to receive the insurance benefits they have earned. SSDI beneficiaries who try to work should not be treated differently from other American workers. UI should be there for them when they need it.

75 national organizations (PDF) have opposed harmful cuts to concurrent SSDI and UI benefits. Get the facts and take action!

Today and tomorrow, call your Senators. Tell them:

  • Please oppose Flake Amendment 667 to the Senate Budget and any similar amendments to cut Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for people who also receive Unemployment Insurance.
  • Any cuts to Social Security or SSDI would harm the financial security of people with significant disabilities and their families.
  • SSDI beneficiaries who try to work should not be treated differently from other American workers. Unemployment Insurance should be there for them when they need it. It’s fair and it’s right.
  • For decades, Congress has passed bipartisan laws to open up employment opportunities for SSDI beneficiaries. Cutting SSDI for people who also receive Unemployment Insurance would instead penalize SSDI beneficiaries who have tried to work — creating new, harmful work disincentives.