need help

NEED HELP?

Find CCDC programs to help assist in advocating for you or someone you know with a disability.

LEARN MORE
ACTION ALERT

ACTION ALERT

Keep up to date with disability rights activities you care about. Choose a few topics or sign up for all of them!

LEARN MORE
issues

ISSUES

Find the most common issues people with disabilities face and how CCDC can help.

LEARN MORE

Category: Blogs

Show all blogs on this website

Duckworth, Casey, Hassan, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Strengthen the ADA & Help Small Businesses Become Accessible

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation on September 18, 2018 to make it easier for small businesses comply with the ADA. The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act bolsters the Disabled Access Credit (DAC), which helps businesses pay for renovations by doubling the maximum tax credit and allowing more small businesses to receive it. The legislation also invests in programs that mediate ADA-related disputes to avoid additional litigation and help individuals and businesses understand the ADA.

CCDC is excited to learn of Senator Duckworth’s proposed legislation that advocates for our members. Senator Duckworth, a veteran and double-amputee, has a proven track record of advocating for people with disabilities. CCDC strongly supports increasing the reach of the ADA, specifically in a way that will incentivize small businesses to become more accessible.

Proposed City of Denver budget falls short

On September 13th Mayor Michael Hancock presented his 2019 budget. As you may know our partners at Denver Streets Partnership and Walk Denver have been meeting city officials to elevate the need for safe and accessible side walks, street crossings and bike paths. These elements are essential for the independence of our people. Some of the glaring deficiencies in the budget included no funding for Federal Blvd., 3.8 million for sidewalks (we had requested 10) and very little money for simple upgrades and fixes such as bollards or paint for roads.
City council now has several weeks to review budget and to make recommendations.
CCDC strongly supports more funding for sidewalks, cross-walks and bike paths.
If you want your voice heard please use the Walk Denver Web site listed below for additional information and ways to reach out to your city councilperson.

Action Center

Jaime Lewis
CCDC Transit Advisor

Action Center

Great info on Fair Housing Rights

City & County of Denver Source of Income Protection

In a win for housing consumers, Denver City Council voted on July 30, 2018 prohibit landlords from denying applicants based on their source of income. This decision most heavily impacts housing seekers with subsidized housing vouchers and/or disability income, though it certainly benefits all potential

renters. The Council’s stance on the issue was that if a prospective renter can afford the rent, their source of income shouldn’t inform the housing provider’s decision. Opponents of the measure feel that requiring landlords to accept non-conventional sources of income like federal vouchers will force landlords to absorb uncovered damage expenses and delayed rent payments. However, to high-rent property owners, the law is unlikely to affect their business as the renters in question would likely not qualify for their units. It’s also important to note that many other jurisdictions in the country have already enacted such protections. The new protection will take effect for the City and County of Denver on January 1, 2019.

To learn more about Denver’s Source of Income protection, click here.

Your reasonable accommodation has been denied. What’s next?

 

If you have requested a reasonable accommodation and supplied your housing provider with the

appropriate documentation (typically a doctor’s note), and the accommodation was denied, there are a couple things you can do:

  • Be proactive! Ask for a meeting with the housing provider to discuss why the accommodation was denied. In some cases, a housing provider can deny an accommodation if it would pose a significant financial and administrative burden or cause them to significantly alter their business practices. If this is the case, your housing provider should work with you to come up with an alternative that will meet your
  • If there is no alternative accommodation that will meet your needs, you may request to be released from your lease at no

If your housing provider denied your accommodation based on discrimination, or you have reason to believe this is the case, here are some tips for what you should do next:

  • Document, document, document! Always keep records of requests you make, emails you receive, text messages, voicemails, recordings, etc. These will help you if you file a complaint for housing discrimination, as you will need proof of the discriminatory
  • Call the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at 720-279-4291. DMFHC has staff members ready to help you determine if discrimination occurred, can help you self-advocate or advocate on your behalf to obtain approval for your
  • If all else fails, and it’s apparent that your housing provider has acted in a discriminatory manner, DMFHC can assist you throughout the complaint

Emotional Support Animals

 

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, there is no distinction between emotional support animals or service animals. Simply obtain a doctor’s note, or a note from another medical professional, that establishes a nexus between your disability and your need for the animal. Next, write a short letter stating that you wish to request a reasonable accommodation. Best practice is to mail the request via certified mail to your housing provider, along with a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act (link below). If your housing provider either ignores or denies your request, call DMFHC to discuss next steps.

If you are unsure if what you’re experiencing is disability discrimination, or just have more questions,

call DMFHC at 720-279-4291.

Click here for a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act.

RTD Director Candidate Forum

D
CANDIDATE
FORUM

 

Tuesday September 4th
1:30pm-3:00pm
The Alliance Center
1536 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO  80202

 

Learn where your potential RTD representatives stand on important transit issues. Hear what they ave to say at this FREE forum moderated by former 9News anchor, Mark Koebrich.

Sponsored by Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council, Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, and AARP.

For more information, contact 303-861-3711, X104 or
email cshipps@drmac-co.org.

RTD Directors Close to Making Decision on Fares

RTD Board of Directors will be deciding on fare increases in the next couple of weeks.

August  21st- RTD Board will have its regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday the 21st of September from 5:30-7:30 at 1660 Blake.  This meeting provides time for public input.  People wanting to speak must sign in when they arrive and indicate that they want speak.  Each speaker is given 3 minutes to present.  All comments should be directed at chair person.

September 11- RTD finance committee may vote to present fare increase to full board (September 18th).  No public input is allowed at this meeting

September 18th- RTD Board has the option to vote on fare increases or table the issue to gather more information or input.  Public input is accepted at this meeting.

If the vote is tabled there could be another chance on October 23rd for Directors to do so.

Jaime Lewis

CCDC Transit Advisor

 

 

Why We Want MEDICAID for all Not MEDICARE for all –Part II

By Julie Reiskin

October 23, 2017

 

To remind readers, Part I of this blog post from early October began with my statement that I was recently in a discussion with someone about health care policy.  When I shared that CCDC does not support Medicare for All, and that we did not support Amendment 69 during the recent fall elections, there was shocked silence.  “Aren’t you the people always protesting and carrying on about health care?”   Yes-we are.

What follows are several more reasons not mentioned in Part I of this essay that compel CCDC to advocate for “Medicaid for All” as the way to go in health care reform ahead:

 

Medicaid has multiple requirements for public involvement. 

There is a federally mandated advisory council that requires client involvement.   In Colorado, just about every program has a robust public committee that complements other ways for the public to be actively involved.  If one was so inclined, one could go to meetings about Medicaid policy with the state every day of the week.  Nothing happens in Medicaid without an opportunity for public involvement.   This may sound tedious unless your life is altered by how rules are made or enforced.  This level of involvement is impossible on a national level.

As we all know, having lobbyists in DC opining on issues does not translate into understanding of how a policy affects the people.   We are slowly learning about some of the very negative effects of the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act which imposes national mandates on states to impose on Medicaid clients and providers.  The motivation may have been good, but the outcomes are bad.  Working things out on a state level in terms of day to day management of programs works much better than trying to write rules or policies on a federal level for every single issue.    Medicaid currently has national standards; those are clearly met.  The details are often left to the states.  If the states follow the rules, the states are not hassled.  If they fail to follow the rules, they have to answer for that.   Medicare, on the other hand, has no such accountability.   There is no workable process to solve a problem with Medicare in terms of how it works on a day to day issue.

 

There are other differences.

Medicare in some areas does pay better than Medicaid, but if there were more money in Medicaid, rates could be raised.  Over the past ten years, states have worked hard to get Medicaid rates at least close to the Medicare rate.  Most providers accept Medicare, not all take Medicaid—again, if the population on Medicaid increased and rates were increased a bit, that would change.   Some providers that do not take Medicaid have outdated information.  Many years ago, it was true that Medicaid would take forever to pay for services rendered.   That has not been the case for more than a decade.  Medicaid is now one the fastest payers.

 

Finally, and this is very important, Medicaid cannot just take away benefits.

To take away a benefit from everyone, there would have to be a legislative bill which would give people a way to be part of the process, and hopefully a solution.  To take away a benefit from an individual requires a notice, and the right of the beneficiary to have a hearing before a neutral judge. Whoever wants to take the benefit away has to prove that something changed.   One of our big concerns with Amendment 69 was that a board could vote away our benefits if funds were tight.   The board did not have any requirement to have input from the disability community – despite how deeply many of our lives depend on these services.

The Nevada legislature passed a bill that would allow Medicaid for all people in Nevada; those not poor would pay a premium.  Sadly, this was vetoed by the Governor of Nevada.  In Colorado, adults with disabilities have this option—we can buy into Medicaid but only if we have a job and are under 65.   If we lose our job and do not get another one in ten days, our Medicaid disappears.  Even though no one retires at age 65 anymore—this program stops at 65.   Other than those two gaping problems, the Medicaid Buy-In Program works well.  For many people with disabilities buying insurance is useless because we need what Medicaid offers, not what insurance offers.  While we may use doctors, need labs, and need hospitals, we really need LTSS and medical equipment.   Non-disabled people would not need LTSS but they could buy into the regular Medicaid package.

While this is not a national program, and a state-by-state approach carries some dangers of people with greatest needs moving to states with the best benefits, it is a much more appropriate solution than Medicare for all.   Medicare for all sounds good because Medicare does not have the stigma of Medicaid.   However, many advocates of Medicare for All are using this term out of a place of ignorance based on privilege.   Medicare for all will NOT solve our nations’ health care problems.   With a proper federally mandated floor regarding covered benefits, Medicaid for all is the best of all worlds.  Guarantee of health care with state control and allowing states to make reasonable rules and provide the benefits that best work for their populations.   People with disabilities have always been the canaries in the mine of health care.  The people promoting Medicare for All really need to listen to us—or at least, roll a mile on our wheels.

Why We Want MEDICAID for all Not MEDICARE for all –Part I

By Julie Reiskin
October 11, 2017

Recently I was in a discussion with someone about health care policy, and there was shocked silence when I shared that CCDC does not support Medicare for All, and that we did not support Amendment 69 during the recent fall elections. “Aren’t you the people always protesting and carrying on about health care?” Yes-we are. “Aren’t you the ones that are most damaged by pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime caps, etc., problems that a Medicare for All would solve?” Yes and No. We are most damaged by regressive policies such as pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps—but NO-Medicare for All will not solve the problem.

Medicare is a great program -for basic health care like going to a doctor, getting a blood test, etc. We also absolutely want everyone, disabled or not, to have health care they need. However, Medicare only works today if you are healthy and have either Medicaid to go with it, lots of money, or can afford an excellent supplement. Moreover, Medicare has the most regressive policies that trickle down in a horrible way, making most health insurance unusable for people with disabilities. To top it off, Medicare does not cover what people with significant disabilities need most—which is long-term services and supports.

During our endless national health care debate during 2017, I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs “I don’t need insurance, I need Medicaid.” Since screaming at the top of my lungs only serves to irritate my family or my staff (depending on where I am while screaming), I tweeted it a few times.

Why Medicaid for All instead?

Why Medicaid? Isn’t that the program for poor people—the horrible program that has no good doctors, where you have to wait forever to get anything done? Isn’t that a program with endless red tape?

No program is perfect, and we work closely every day with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing or HCPF (pronounced hicpuff) to make it better. However, for our community Medicaid is the best program, and we want it for everyone. Allowing anyone to buy into Medicaid on a sliding scale rate would make the problems with Medicaid go away. Medicaid has a better benefit package, less red-tape, greater efficiency and much better policies than Medicare. At least in Colorado, this is the case. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership so the federal government sets some of the rules but states have flexibility. When a change is needed for any reason, including a change in medical technology, a change in known best medical practices, or the realization that a rule is making things worse not better, a change happens at the state level. With Medicare, a change requires an act of Congress—and we all know smoothly and effectively the U.S. Congress is working these days. Making a change at a state level usually requires bipartisan support at some level, public input and comment, showing budget neutrality, and going through a process. Change is not immediate but it is possible.

A few other differences:

1) Medicare covers 80% of medical benefits. If you are poor enough to have Medicaid, then Medicaid covers the other 20%. If you are rich enough to afford a good supplemental, then that pays the other 20%. Other people are stuck either with an insurance company that will (maybe) pay the 20% but will restrict what doctor and hospital you can use (along with numerous other impossible rules). Or these other people hope for the best and pay the 20% themselves. As long as one is healthy and has a reasonable income, this works. As soon as one is sick, it does not work. 20% of a lot is still a lot.

2) Medicare is incredibly bureaucratic and complex. The country is divided in regions, and Medicare contracts out “coverage decisions” for various benefits to insurance companies. There are “local coverage criteria” that are very hard to find and they may vary by region in some cases. Medicare rarely pre-authorizes anything. Patients get services; providers are expected to provide care. Weeks or months later, Medicare will decide what portion of this they will pay and what portion the patient must pay. They often deny services because they do not meet some abstract and hidden criteria. Medicaid applicants and recipients, on the other hand, have a right to appeal ANY adverse action. Medicaid recipients can even file an appeal if the agency does not act on a request in a reasonable amount of time. While a Medicaid appeal process may be a bit intimidating, there are people to help and even if you cannot find help, the state office of administrative courts tries to be fair to unrepresented parties. A Medicare appeal process is completely impossible and not even granted for every form of denial. Medicaid has timelines for all sorts of decisions—Medicare has no such timelines.

3) Medicare has antiquated and discriminatory requirements. The worst one is the homebound rule. This applies to home health care and durable medical equipment. This rule basically says that Medicare only covers this service to the extent the beneficiary is homebound. This means the person rarely leaves their home (except for medical appointments) and it requires great difficulty to leave the home.

This is the rule that drives many people with disabilities who have worked and paid into Medicare into Medicaid. With medical technology today, very few people are truly homebound.

Without Medicaid, people with disabilities on Medicare are denied necessary services. They cannot get a wheelchair that works outdoors, because Medicare only covers the kind of wheelchair needed for use in the home. People then get indoor chairs, but use them everywhere and get hit by cars, have the chairs break constantly, etc., because the chairs are not made for real use. Similarly, people with only Medicare are often denied home health care and what they can get is very much in the medical model. To add insult to injury, Medicare sets the stage for insurance; most private insurance companies follow Medicare rules regarding the homebound requirement. It is common medical knowledge that people who stay at home all of the time are less healthy than those that have an active life. Moreover, it is discriminatory and adds to isolation and segregation of people with disabilities. Because Medicare is a federal program, the American’s with Disabilities Act does not apply. Fortunately, the Olmstead Decision in which the Supreme Court said that state and local government programs must work to avoid policies that cause isolation and segregation of people with disabilities because they understood that isolation and segregation ARE discrimination. The ADA requires state and local governments to modify policies, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination – hence, they may NOT impose homebound criteria.

4) Medicare has no long-term services and supports. They do not even pay for nursing homes after 100 days (not that we want nursing home care). There are no services such as personal care, homemaker, supported employment, residential support, transportation, home modification, etc. These services are essential for people with disabilities to function in the community at the highest level of independence. Medicaid is the ONLY “insurance” that provides these essential services. While each state is different, all states offer some long term services and supports. We would support a national requirement for a basic level of LTSS. Most states allow for at least some “participant direction” of services. In Colorado, this means that some clients are allowed to control who comes into our homes, touches our bodies, and has access to every detail of our lives. We are given a budget and must live within it. Within the budget, we can decide what our aides are paid, when they should come and what they should do. This is much preferred than having an agency make these decisions and try to get numerous people services usually desired at the same time. Medicare has no such flexibility (of course they do not have any personal care benefits either).

Additional differences between Medicaid and Medicare and why CCDC advocates for Medicaid for All as the discussion of health care reforms ensues in America in the months to come will be covered in Part II of this blog next week.

Why the disability community does NOT want Medicare forAll (Part I)

 

Why the disability community does NOT want Medicare forAll (Part I)

By Julie Reiskin

October 11, 2017

Recently I was in a discussion with someone about health care policy, and there was shocked silence when I shared that CCDCdoes not support Medicare for All, and that we did not support Amendment 69 during the recent fall elections.  “Aren’t you the people always protesting and carrying on about health care?”   Yes-we are.  “Aren’t you the ones that are most damaged by pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime caps, etc., problems that a Medicare for All would solve?”  Yes and No.  We are most damaged by regressive policies such as pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps—but NO-Medicare for All will not solve the problem.

Medicare is a great program-for basic health care like going to a doctor, getting a blood test, etc.   We also absolutely want everyone, disabled or not, to have health care they need.  However, Medicare only works today if you are healthy and have either Medicaid to go with it, lots of money, or can afford an excellent supplement.   Moreover, Medicare has the most regressive policies that trickle down in a horrible way, making most health insurance unusable for people with disabilities.    To top it off, Medicare does not cover what people with significant disabilities need most—which is long term services and supports.

During our endless national health care debate during 2017, I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs “I don’t need insurance, I need Medicaid.”  Since screaming at the top of my lungs only serves to irritate my family or my staff (depending on where I am while screaming), I tweeted it a few times.

Why Medicaid for All instead?

Why Medicaid?  Isn’t that the program for poor people—the horrible program that has no good doctors, where you have to wait forever to get anything done?  Isn’t that a program with endless red tape?

No program is perfect, and we work closely every day with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing or HCPF (pronounced hicpuff) to make it better. However, for our community Medicaid is the best program, and we want it for everyone.  Allowing anyone to buy into Medicaid on a sliding scale rate would make the problems with Medicaid go away.  Medicaid has a better benefit package, less red-tape, greater efficiency and much better policies than Medicare.  At least in Colorado, this is the case.   Medicaid is a federal-state partnership so the federal government sets some of the rules but states have flexibility.  When a change is needed for any reason,including a change in medical technology, a change in known best medical practices, or the realization that a rule is making things worse not better, a change happens at the state level.   With Medicare, a change requires an act of Congress—and we all know smoothly and effectively the U.S. Congress is working these days.   Making a change at a state level usually requires bipartisan support at some level, public input and comment, showing budget neutrality, and going through a process.  Change is not immediate but it is possible.

A few other differences:

1) Medicare covers 80% of medical benefits.  If you are poor enough to have Medicaid, then Medicaid covers the other 20%.  If you are rich enough to afford a good supplemental,then that pays the other 20%.  Other people are stuck either with an insurance company that will (maybe) pay the 20% but will restrict what doctor and hospital you can use (along with numerous other impossible rules).  Or these other people hope for the best and pay the 20% themselves.   As long as one is healthy and has a reasonable income, this works.  As soon as one is sick, it does not work.  20% of a lot is still a lot.
2) Medicare is incredibly bureaucratic and complex.  The country is divided in regions, and Medicare contracts out “coverage decisions” for various benefits to insurance companies.  There are “local coverage criteria” that are very hard to find and they may vary by region in some cases.  Medicare rarely pre-authorizes anything.  Patients get services; providers are expected to provide care.  Weeks or months later, Medicare will decide what portion of this they will pay and what portion the patient must pay.  They often deny services because they do not meet some abstract and hidden criteria.   Medicaid applicants and recipients, on the other hand, have a right to appeal ANY adverse action.  Medicaid recipients can even file an appeal if the agency does not act on a request in a reasonable amount of time.  While a Medicaid appeal process may be a bit intimidating, there are people to help and even if you cannot find help, the state office of administrative courts tries to be fair to unrepresented parties.  A Medicare appeal process is completely impossible and not even granted for every form of denial.   Medicaid has timelines for all sorts of decisions—Medicare has no such timelines.
3) Medicare has antiquated and discriminatory requirements.  The worst one is the homebound rule.   This applies to home health care and durable medical equipment.   This rule basically says that Medicare only covers this service to the extent the beneficiary is homebound.  This means the person rarely leaves their home (except for medical appointments) and it requires great difficulty to leave the home.

This is the rule that drives many people with disabilities who have worked and paid into Medicare into Medicaid.  With medical technology today, very few people are truly homebound.

Without Medicaid, people with disabilities on Medicare are denied necessary services.   They cannot get a wheelchair that works outdoors, because Medicare only covers the kind of wheelchair needed for use in the home.  People then get indoor chairs, but use them everywhere and get hit by cars, have the chairs break constantly, etc., because the chairs are not made for real use.  Similarly, people with only Medicare are often denied home health care and what they can get is very much in the medical model.   To add insult to injury, Medicare sets the stage for insurance; most private insurance companies follow Medicare rules regarding the homebound requirement.  It is common medical knowledge that people who stay at home all of the time are less healthy than those that have an active life.  Moreover, it is discriminatory and adds to isolation and segregation of people with disabilities.  Because Medicare is a federal program, the American’s with Disabilities Act does not apply. Fortunately, the Olmstead Decision in which the Supreme Court said that state and local government programs must work to avoid policies that cause isolation and segregation of people with disabilities because they understood that isolation and segregation ARE discrimination.   The ADA requires state and local governments to modify policies, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination – hence, they may NOT impose homebound criteria.

4) Medicare has no long-term services and supports.  They do not even pay for nursing homes after 100 days (not that we want nursing home care).  There are no services such as personal care, homemaker, supported employment, residential support, transportation, home modification, etc.   These services are essential for people with disabilities to function in the community at the highest level of independence.   Medicaid is the ONLY “insurance” that provides these essential services.   While each state is different, all states offer some long term services and supports.   We would support a national requirement for a basic level of LTSS.   Most states allow for at least some “participant direction” of services. In Colorado, this means that some clients are allowed to control who comes into our homes, touches our bodies, and has access to every detail of our lives.  We are given a budget and must live within it.  Within the budget, we can decide what our aides are paid, when they should come and what they should do.  This is much preferred than having an agency make these decisions and try to get numerous people services usually desired at the same time.  Medicare has no such flexibility (of course they do not have any personal care benefits either).

Additional differences between Medicaid and Medicare and why CCDC advocates for Medicaid for All as the discussion of health care reforms ensues in America in the months to come will be covered in Part II of this blog next week.

1

CCDC Comments on Human Services Rule about Aid to Needy Disabled

This testimony was sent to beth.kline@state.co.us in support of a rule change that will be heard by the Board on August 3rd in Durango.  For information about the board meeting see https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs-boards-committees-collaboration/state-board-human-services

 

To Human Services Board:

From:  Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, CCDC

RE:  Support for Aid to Needy Disabled Rule Package

Dear Members of the Human Services Board:

I am writing as the director of the largest statewide, disability-run, disability rights organization in Colorado in full support of the AND rule package…and to encourage you to continue with reforms to better support clients that need this program.   Our friends from the Southwest Independent Living Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless will also be testifying and this letter is a supplement to their direct testimony.

Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND) is the program for the poorest of the poor, the most severely disabled with the fewest resources.   People on AND are living so far below the poverty level they are not even on the radar. AND was meant to be a bridge between the time one becomes disabled and the time one can get on some sort of permanent disability benefits.   It is also meant for those with disabilities that last between 6 and 12 months—making the person unable to work for a long time but not eligible for Social Security. Sadly, for some who are unable to navigate the complicated Social Security process, AND ends up as their only means of support for too long.    The disability community, provider organizations, and some state agencies have tried to create programs to help this group of citizens whose disabilities are of a nature that make complying with rules, deadlines and procedures as impossible for them as walking up a flight of stairs is for someone whose legs are paralyzed.   Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to fund a support program that serves all in need.

Even when it is a temporary solution, the system still needs to work with an understanding that one is always in a desperate situation to even apply for AND.  To be considered one must have NO income, no savings, and no support. It is such as a small amount of money that if people have other options they will take those other options.  When someone is waiting for SSI or SSDI and they accept AND the funds have to be paid back when the client receives his or her backpayment. Given that these individuals are already saddled with debt, both formal and informal, people do not sign up for this program when there are other options.   Moreover, applying for ANY disability benefit is a humiliating and demoralizing experience, even when everyone involved is kind (which sadly is not always the case). One must tell strangers about extremely personal details, over and over again. One must confront the fact that one cannot do easy tasks that are considered natural for all adults in our society.  One has to admit that one cannot support oneself or loved ones (if there are any left). Applying for benefits is one more loss, often part of a cascade of defeat. It is imperative that the Board understand the backdrop against which our fellow citizens are applying. Sensitivity training should include trauma informed care as well as an understanding about grief and loss and the disability process.    While disability is NOT a tragedy, the systems that we encounter early in our disability journey do create trauma and find people at their lowest point, when they are still believing that disability is a tragedy.

CCDC strongly supports the following proposed changes for the following reasons:

  1.       Extend the time an AND applicant has to return a completed Med-9 from 10 days to 30 days:  This is important because ten days is not adequate to find a doctor and get the form filled out.  Often the application for AND is done with the application for Medicaid. If one does not have an existing relationship with a doctor, one cannot just find one quickly.   Even if one does have a relationship, not all doctors will do these so sometimes people have to find a different provider to do this form. Along these lines, we supported the law to allow psychologists to fill the form out and support CDHS making rules to allow other licensed professionals such as Social Workers to complete forms, particularly when the disability is mental health.  It is in professional purview of any LCSW to diagnose and assess the severity of any mental disability. Ten days is not adequate and the short time limit created many re-applications which takes time from everyone.

  2.      Extend the time an AND applicant has to verify that they’ve applied for SSI/SSDI from 10 days to 60 days on the initial application and 30 days on subsequent applications:   The SSI process is incredibly complicated and doing a rushed application will result in a denial no matter how eligible the client is—because something will be missed. It is best if the client has an advocate to assist with the process and it is unlikely that any advocate could do an application with a client in ten days.   An advocate needs to meet the client, get releases signed, review the medical records, draft materials, and often do research. Once there is a denial an appeal is necessary and while the client can get AND benefits for the duration of the appeal, this adds to the already problematic backlog of disability determination cases in the Social Security appeals system.  Waiting up to two years for a hearing is now common. This is part of how the AND program has moved from a temporary stopgap to a way of life. During the long wait, clients often lose their place to live, and then miss notices and then lose their appeal for failure to follow up. They then have to start the process again.
  3.      Provide provisional AND benefits to applicants that have met all eligibility requirements (except the SSI verification) while they work on their SSI/SSDI application:  If the client has no benefits while they work on the application the chances of this ever getting done are decreased dramatically. Benefits help pay for things like bus passes to go see their advocate, copayments for medications and treatment (SSA will deny if an applicant is not receiving treatment) as well as basic such as personal hygiene items.  
  4.      Eliminate the social factors matrix assessment:    This matrix has been a burden on worker and client alike and is neither necessary nor appropriate.   We support the elimination of this matrix. As noted above, people applying for AND are already suffering from significant lack of resources and lack of social support.   Another complicated process to make the clients go over and over this, using scarce county worker time does not benefit anyone.

People have been working on this for a long time, and there has been a lot of engagement in this process.  Please pass these rules and continue to work on ways to make the AND benefit easier for those in such desperate need to receive.  As a state we are compassionate people and need not make it harder for people at what is often the lowest point of one’s life.

I am willing to answer any questions but my colleagues who will be at the meeting will be in the best position to answer direct questions at the meeting.

 

Sincerely

 

Julie Reiskin, LCSW

Executive Director

CCDC


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

A+ A-