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Latest Issues

Social Security Field Office Service Changes Effective August 1, 2014

August 5, 2014

Effective August 1, 2014, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is making changes to its field office services that may affect individuals and families working with chapters of The Arc on support and service coordination, information and referral, emergency services, and other services. Please share this information with your staff.

Effective August 1, 2014: SSA Field Offices to Only Provide SSN Printouts to People in "Dire Need"

Effective August 1, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will move forward with its plan to eliminate the issuance of Social Security number (SSN) printouts in its field offices. Instead, individuals will be directed to apply for a new SSN card, a process that takes about 2 weeks.

However, SSA has indicated that it will ensure service to those with a "dire need" and that each field office will designate a point of contact to assist local organizations with obtaining SSN verifications, with consent, in emergency situations and in cases of hardship. More information about the dire need exception process is available in a SSA's Emergency Message EM-14009 REV. Examples of dire need exceptions include: regionally or nationally declared disasters (e.g. hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, etc.); individuals facing immediate eviction; individuals who participate in home energy assistance programs; individuals needing immediate emergency medical services; and homeless individuals.

SSA Field Offices to Continue to Provide Benefit Verification Letters

Local Social Security offices will continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice, as outlined in a recent SSA press release.

If staff at a chapter of The Arc is working with individuals who are told by SSA staff that the field office cannot provide them with a benefit verification letter, the SSA press release may be helpful. If individuals seeking benefit verification letters are consistently being turned away from a particular field office, we encourage you to contact the state Protection and Advocacy agency for assistance. Additionally, if staff at a chapter of The Arc is seeing consistent patterns of people being turned away without benefit verification letters, please consider sharing this information with T.J. Sutcliffe in The Arc's public policy office for use in our advocacy work ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Background

Earlier this year, SSA announced plans to eliminate the provision of both SSN printouts and benefit verification letters at its field offices. These documents are often used by people with disabilities and others who need to promptly verify their SSN to secure a job or get a driver license or non-driver ID, or who need to verify their Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in order to secure housing, a loan, or public benefits (and for many other purposes).

The Arc joined with other national disability organizations to oppose these service cuts. The Arc is pleased that SSA will continue to provide benefit verification letters, but continues to express concern about the potential impact on people with disabilities from the reduction in access to SSN printouts at SSA field offices.

 

Proposed iBudget Rules Invalidated

July 25, 2014

Tallahassee, FL (July 25, 2014) – The First District Court of Appeals (DCA) reversed an administrative law judge's order this week and invalidated iBudget rules proposed by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The First DCA said APD did not have the statutory authority to implement the proposed rules.

APD has posted a response on its website. You may read that here. APD Director Barbara Palmer told The Arc of Florida this morning that restored cost plans will remain in place until the agency develops a new algorithm and promulgates a new rule.

The Arc of Florida is monitoring the situation and will have additional updates about how it will impact families as warranted.

 

Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 24

July 25, 2014

By Pat Young, President of The Arc of Florida

Tallahassee, FL (July 24, 2014) - This month marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It's a civil rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disability. The ADA applies to discrimination in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), has seen positive changes in these areas since the ADA was signed into law in 1990. Just a few years before its passage, many Floridians with I/DD were institutionalized. Today, many are living and working in their community.

While great strides have been made in our society, discrimination still exists. Attitudes, poor enforcement of the law, underfunded programs and fiscal difficulties in state and local government budgets all contribute to the on-going need to be vigilant advocates for full inclusion and equality.

There are still issues here in Florida. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case Olmstead v. L.C. that unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions is a form of discrimination. Despite this, our state continues to house some individuals with I/DD in institutions and children in nursing homes.

We hope our elected leaders will work to fund additional community-based programs, ensuring that all Floridians are treated equally and able to live in the community, where they belong.

 
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