The Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances program was created to expedite the approval process for Social Security disability benefits for people with the most serious diseases and medical conditions that invariably meet the SSA’s legal standards. So far, the program has fast-tracked nearly 200,000 applications for people with conditions such as cancer, immunological disorders and neurological disease.
Among the many changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act is one that may move forward some goals many people with disabilities have long considered crucial: greater dignity, privacy and independence. For states that currently have Medicaid waivers for home and community-based services, a provision of the ACA (sometimes called “Obamacare”) called the Community First Choice Option provides federal matching funds to make housing for people with disabilities much more amenable to full integration in society.
Just about everyone who has seen the Star Wars movies remembers the epic scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader cuts off the hand of Luke Skywalker. At the time, the following scene in which a bionic arm is attached to young Skywalker’s arm seemed like science fiction. After all, the technology seemed light years (no pun intended) beyond its time, including the possibility of an amputee having not only a replaced limb but the ability to touch as well. But science fiction has finally found its way into reality with promising results for amputees around the world.
On Oct. 30, the Social Security Administration announced that beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income will indeed be receiving slightly more in benefits next year due to a cost of living adjustment, or COLA. The 2014 COLA will increase benefits by 1.5 percent, which is roughly in line with last year’s increase of 1.7 percent.
This week, HBO has been airing a stunning documentary about a middle-school boy who suffers from an extremely rare but fatal disease called progeria, and his doctor-parents’ quest for a cure. As explained in “Life According to Sam,” Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome is a non-inherited genetic disorder that causes children to develop symptoms, and even the appearance, of advanced age.
A first-of-its kind, United Nations study of worldwide disaster response plans reveals that “the key reason why a disproportionate number of disabled persons suffer and die in disasters is because their needs are ignored and neglected by the official planning process in the majority of situations,” says the head of the UN’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
As battles over the federal budget continue in Washington, some lawmakers have repeatedly questioned whether we’re being too generous to people with disabilities that keep them from working. In June, three members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were harshly critical of many Social Security disability judges who, they claim, grant benefits in between 50 and 75 percent of the appeals they hear. Since the judges only see these cases after two previous denials, shouldn’t they be turning most of them down?
The Obama Administration just announced that, starting in 2015, health aides and certified nurse assistants, whether they work in skilled nursing facilities, group homes or individual homes, will be covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime guarantees. For many beneficiaries of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, these workers are a crucial support for an independent life.
Children with cerebral palsy or epilepsy, or with neurologic or developmental disorders, are often beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income, and many of them are eligible for Medicaid. Yet, while Georgia Medicaid fully covers flu shots for both children and adults at increased risk, far too few children with these conditions are getting vaccinated.
As the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the historic March on Washington approached, a buzz of excitement arose in the disability rights community. Fred Maahs, chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities was scheduled to be among the luminaries joining President Obama in honoring the progress made in civil rights since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.