Dakota Center for Independent Living Hosted Open House for 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

11742831_1022017597839068_612007671991386853_nOn July 23, 2015, Dakota Center for Independent Living (DCIL) held an open house to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). DCIL had a wonderful turnout for the event with a total of 50 people in attendance.

The celebration included lots of door prizes and activities that simulated what someone might encounter should they acquire a traumatic brain injury.  These activities included sensory and visual. Other activities included barriers that individuals with physical disabilities face in their everyday lives. People were invited to partake in the wheelchair obstacle course. Those who tried these activities said it really opened their eyes and allowed them to see just how difficult it can be to live with a disability.

Everyone enjoyed the open house and it gave DCIL a chance to talk more about the ADA and what it means to them. The ADA was signed on July 26, 1990. This bill really pushed for the inclusion of people with disabilities and made it illegal to discriminate against them. Although DCIL celebrates the ADA, the staff still sees there is work to be done. The ADA was the first step and while we celebrate all it has to offer, we look to the future and see what else can be done so this world is accessible to everyone.

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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.