Cooling Assistance Available to Low Income Individuals with Medical Needs

Cooling assistance is available for seniors or people with certain medical conditions who qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The heat of summer can really create problems for people with health issues. The cooling assistance program makes funds available to low income households to prevent heat-related illnesses.

The program funds can be used to assist qualifying households to purchase and install an air conditioning unit, repair an air conditioning unit, or to purchase oscillating or window fans. Community Action, an agency located in the state’s eight largest cities, will complete the work.

To qualify, current energy assistance clients under 60 years of age need a signed statement from a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or public health nurse verifying their medical condition and the need for a cooled living space. This information must be provided to the county social service office. Clients over 60 years of age are not required to obtain documentation of a medical need.

People who are not currently energy assistance program clients may also qualify. A three-person household earning up to $43,430 per year may qualify if their assets meet program limits. For information on qualifying incomes, visit www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/energyassist.html

Individuals should contact their county social service office to apply for the program before September 30, 2015. Contac t information is available online at www.nd.gov/dhs/locations/countysocialserv/.

Burleigh County: 701-222-6622

Morton County: 701-667-3395

25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act to be Celebrated Next Week

ADA 25th Anniversary Flyer

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The ADA is considered to be one of the most significant civil rights laws passed since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, from which it draws heavily.

The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA also assures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.

Dakota Center for Independent Living invites the community to come learn more about the ADA at their open house being held on July 23, 2015. The open house includes several activities to help the community understand the ADA, the impact it has had on the community and much more. The open house will be taking place at Dakota Center for Independent Living’s office at 3111 E Broadway Ave in Bismarck from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Current Popular Medicare Scams

There are several different Medicare scams out there. As soon as one scam is squashed, another one emerges. Here are a few examples of Medicare scams to watch out for:

  • Bait-and-switch scam: An “arthritis kit” draws the attention of many Medicare recipients through telemarketing, TV commercials, and door-to-door sales. This kit promises relief from chronic joint discomfort using a lightweight, high-tech osteoarthritis brace designed for knees, backs, ankles, hands, and elbows. The person receives a bunch of Velcro braces and assorted knee and ankle wraps. Meanwhile, the kit supplier bills Medicare $3,000 for state-of-the-art braces and splints.
  • Home health care scams: Home healthcare fraudsters are offering clients services that range from physical therapy to cooking and cleaning assistance. These companies charge Medicare for professional services, but actually provide low-level care or nothing at all.
  • Topical pain cream scam: Telemarketers are calling to offer beneficiaries a chance to meet a doctor who would be willing to prescribe topical pain cream. They ask for the beneficiaries Medicare number during the phone call.
  • New Medicare card scam: Scammers are calling people and asking for Medicare numbers so the person they are calling can receive their new Medicare card. They are stealing the Medicare information.

If you get one of these calls, what should you do?

  • Hang up
  • Never give out your Medicare number or personal information
  • Call the North Dakota Senior Medical Patrol Office at (701)858-3580

Information provided by the Senior Medical Patrol

IRS Proposes Rules for New ABLE Accounts

On Monday, June 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule regarding the implementation of the ABLE Act. In this proposed rule, the IRS unveiled guidelines for the ABLE Act. This law was designed to allow people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.

This is the first time specifics for the new accounts have become available. It clarifies what expenses the money can be used for and how these accounts should function. It appears that the IRS took a lenient view as to what counts as a qualified disability expense. The ABLE Act mandates that money from this account can be used for transportation, housing and education. Other expenses could be covered by the ABLE Act, but those had to be determined by the regulators.

The proposal states, “The treasury department and the IRS concluded that the term ‘qualified living expenses’ should be broadly construed to permit the inclusion of basic living expenses and should not be limited to expenses for items for which there is a medical necessity or which provide no benefits to others in addition to the benefit of the eligible individual.”

There are other details within the proposal that are causing some concern. The reporting and oversite requirements outlined go beyond those governing 529 college savings plans that the ABLE accounts were modeled on. This could make ABLE accounts difficult to administer or utilize. Every time money from the account is to be spent, the individual will have to file paperwork with the state that demonstrates each expense falls under the category of qualified disability expense.

The proposed rules will be up for public comment for 90 days before the IRS issues final regulations. The public comment will be taking place in Washington D.C.

During this time, several states will be working to make the ABLE Act a reality for residents. Despite the federal law, each state must put their own regulations in place before making the accounts available.

The ABLE Act has been enacted in 22 states thus far. Each of these states is still working out the details related to administering the program.  Some advocates believe that the states will likely wait for the IRS to issue their final rules before allowing financial institutions to begin offering ABLE accounts.

If you would like to read the proposed rules, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-06-22/pdf/2015-15280.pdf

If you would like to take part in public comment, please contact:

http://www.regulations.gov

A public hearing will be taking place on October 14, 2015. All comments must be received by September 21, 2015.

Van Accommodations for People with Disabilities

Recently, the Director of DCIL flew down to Minneapolis to purchase his new accessible van. He drove back from the cities in his 2013 Chrysler Town and Country Limited. He was able to experience many of the up to date technology new vans can offer. Some of these features include:

IMG_0524Features Include:

Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection

Rear Park Assist System

Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control

Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers

Rear Back-Up Camera

Remote Start System

Keyless Entry

Steering Wheel Audio Controls

Power Liftgate

Power Sliding Doors

Heated Mirrors

The features listed here are only a few the van has to offer. Many of these features are available straight from the dealership. With the advancement of technology, automatic headlights and windshield wipers are beginning to be standard features on new vehicles. Features like the ones listed above help the driver to give their full attention to the road.

This van’s added features are what make it accessible.

Ramp

IMG_0527This ramp retracts into the floor of the van so that there is still plenty of room to maneuver a wheelchair.

Hand Controls

IMG_0529The gas and the break functions of this car can be handled using hand controls. The steering wheel also has a handle attached to make it easy to drive with one hand.

Electric Rotating Seat

IMG_0531The driver seat doesn’t just move back and forth. It also rotates to allow people to transfer to the seat much easier.

Magnetic Remote Seat Control

IMG_0532IMG_0530

These hand controls are attached to a remote. It has easy to press buttons. It is also magnetic and attaches to the side of the seat as shown above.

This van was purchased at Rollx Vans. If you’d like to learn more about van accommodations, you can call them at 952-890-7851.

Best Way to Find Out Severe Weather Alerts

When dangerous weather approaches, it is important to know the best way to get information. It is recommended that every home and business have a weather radio. The National Weather Service broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

Weather radios come in many sizes and with a variety of functions and costs. Many of the radios sound a tone alarm and/or turn on the audio when severe weather announcements or emergency information is broadcast. Most of these radios are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup. These radios can be purchased through various websites.

In Bismarck and Burleigh County area, KFYR 550 AM Radio is the designated emergency alert station; however, most local radio and television stations broadcast emergency information and weather warnings through alerts.  Some weather warnings are also available through various weather apps for smartphones. However, having a radio is always a good idea in case the phone battery dies.

Sanford Driver Rehabilitation Program

Sanford Health has a driver rehabilitation program. This driver evaluation and training process was created to help people resume their independent lifestyle after a disabling illness or injury. The therapists are certified driver rehabilitation specialists who will assess a person’s ability to drive safely and can also teach you how to use adaptive equipment and assist with vehicle modification and selections for specific needs.

A professional driving assessment may be necessary if a person has physical limitations that may require adaptive equipment, cognitive impairments that may cause problems in identifying driving hazards, visual impairments, delayed reaction time, and apprehension about an individual’s driving ability.

During the evaluation, the certified driver rehabilitation specialist gives a clinical evaluation of physical, cognitive, and visual skills. They will also evaluate a person’s behind the wheel performance, evaluate any adaptive equipment needs, help with vehicle selection and modifications, provide driving training which may include adaptive equipment, and refer the person to any other needed driver training program that might be needed.

In order to have a driving evaluation, a person needs to complete the application forms, submit medical records that relate to an illness or disability effecting driving, have a physician referral, have a valid driver’s license or special permit, meet North Dakota seizure law and visual requirements, and have prior authorization from funding sources, if applicable.

To find out more about the driver rehabilitation services, please contact:

Sanford Driver Rehabilitation Program

300 N 7th St

Bismarck, ND 58501

Phone: 701-323-6153