Your monthly news & updates
A note from Matt....
It has always been my belief that many more than one in five persons in our nation has a disability, as a disability is broadly defined as a substantial limitation in a major life activity or bodily function. When COVID-19 infections surpass eleven million people, the current and future effects of the pandemic on our country will be long lasting. This not only includes accommodations from those who are immunocompromised, but will also include health care and accommodations from those who will suffer from Post-COVID-19 symptoms and conditions. We need to be prepared to ensure that the new members of the disability community will understand the support that is available to them. 
Congratulations to Matthew Dietz!
Daily Business Review 16th Annual most effective Lawyers 2020 public interest award to Matthew W. Dietz with a gold and black background
"When racism and ableism combine, the result is another tragedy." So, to honor the 30th anniversary of the ADA and to memorialize those persons of color who have disabilities, it is important to stand together because disability rights are civil rights.
Amendment 2 – Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage – an empty promise for persons with disabilities.

image of a person and 100% of wage then a line that says minimum wage and then a wheelchair image and 50% of wage.

On November 3, 2020, the Florida electorate overwhelmingly (60.8 % to 39.2%) voted to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30, 2021, and then every year thereafter, raise the minimum wage 1.00 per hour until it reaches $15.00 per hour.

In the statute implementing this amendment, it contains the same exclusions from the minimum wage law that have always existed, including the exception for persons who have disabilities. 

While these persons are excepted from the minimum wage law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has an exception that allows companies and organizations to pay workers a sub-minimum wage if they simultaneously provide extensive support services such as career counseling services that increase an employee’s skills, independence and self-sufficiency. The requirement for career counseling services is minimal, and only includes in-house or Department of Vocational Rehabilitation career counseling with the employee with a disability every six months during the first year of employment, and annually thereafter.

These entities which employ persons at sub-minimum wages are called sheltered work sites, and there are 2,500 of these cites certified that employ more than half a million workers with disabilities. Most of these sites are run by non-profits and offer contract work to private businesses for repetitive, low skill jobs, such as packing, sorting and light assembly. Each worker’s wage is determined by a “productivity test” and often leads to workers making pennies per hour. 

While the requirements for operating these facilities are minimal, they still are not complied with. For example, in Florida, the minimal requirements of career counseling are not met, and the Department of Labor recently awarded $14,478 in back wages to 48 employees with disabilities of Pine Castle, Inc., in Jacksonville Florida for failing to comply with the provisions.  Pine Castle is a service provider and vocational service center for persons with disabilities in North Florida. In 2017, its IRS form 990 showed that it had over 4.5 million dollars in revenue, and each of the employees received, at average, three hundred dollars in lost wages for the violation of the training provisions.

While there is a push to end this exception in Congress in 2019 in the federal Raise the Wage Act. This bill would phase out the subminimum wage by 2025, where all workers with disabilities would earn the standard minimum wage. 

However, Amendment 2 did not abolish or amend the existing exemptions to the minimum wage requirements.  
Out and About with DIG
Give Miami Day 2020
November 19, 2020

10th Circuit Fairness & Diversity Event
December 4, 2020

CBO Training
January 14, 2021
DIG in the News

October 29, 2020 Gizmodo, Ace Ratcliff, Everyone Should Be Able to Use the Public Restroom

November 12, 2020, Daily Business Review, App Wars: Could 2021 be the Year of Mobile-App Accessibility Lawsuits?
Watch our Webinar on Coping with Stress
Thank you to our speakers:
Brian Cuban
Kelly Charles-Collins
Brian Tannebaum
Give Miami Day 2020 is Thursday, November 19, 2020
Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)
This month I want to introduce you to an important part of the disability movement, Self-Advocates. The disability movement’s motto is “Nothing About Us Without Us” and self-advocates make that motto a reality.

People with disabilities have historically had people around them making decisions that impact their lives. Other people have decided what they can do, what they need, and what they can have. In the 1960’s the self-advocacy movement began in Sweden. The idea began to spread to Great Britain, Canada and the United States in 1972. In Oregon, a group called “People First” was formed because they felt that their disabilities were secondary to their being a person first. From there, the idea of self-advocacy spread across North America. (Vera Institute of Justice)

The definition of a self-advocate is someone who has the learned to speak-up for themselves and the things that are important to them. They can ask for what they need and want. They are aware of their rights and responsibilities and they make the choices and decisions that affect their lives.

For this to happen there must be authentic involvement in places where decisions are made. Authentic involvement of self-advocates requires that you include them in meaningful ways. We must promote an environment where people are allowed to make their own decisions, have an opportunity to develop leadership skills, can make meaningful contributions and have influence on decision making processes. Their voices must be respected, valued and trusted.

These are the goals of the Miami Inclusion Alliance’s, MIA Liaison Project. Four liaisons have been selected, they have participated in intensive training at the intersection of abuse and disability and they are actively participating at the decision making tables in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault system of care. Their voices are being heard and their contributions to creating and supporting a truly inclusive community. I will share more about this amazing project in the next few months. 
Lucy the Dog
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
Let us know if you would like a Florida Bar ID Card like mine.
Just email Matt at
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
I came across a quote a friend posted on her social media the other day. It read, “I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.” As we come to the close of this tumultuous year, I thought this quote was especially pertinent. I started off this year with so many different goals, especially with my physical therapy. I ramped up my sessions early on and decided I would work harder than I had before. The arrival of COVID in our country changed all of our plans, however, and definitely affected some of us more than others. Friends and family contracted the disease, businesses closed, and our economy suffered. I think we all did, in some way or another.

As a result of COVID and its spread at the beginning of this year, we all ended up staying home. “Isolating” or “quarantining” became the new vocabulary in our lives. As a result, my plans, just like everyone else’s definitely changed. Those New Year’s resolutions were a lot more difficult to accomplish if we were all staying home. But, looking back on it now, I feel like something interesting happened. We began to look within and recognize what is really important in our lives. The shutdown led us to slow down and, in turn, appreciate things in our lives we may have missed in the hustle and bustle of our daily grind.

Now, I’m well aware that I am an eternal optimist, and this was not the case for all of us. Some suffered greatly, whether it was a death of a family member, the loss of a business or just loneliness in general, as many were left on their own. But, for those of us who were not directly affected by the disease, staying home became an opportunity to focus on what really matters.

While my plans for a more rigorous physical therapy schedule were put on hold because I was staying home, I found it just as rewarding to come up with my own PT while I at home in isolation. I came to appreciate even the smallest efforts I put in every day, because some days that was all I could do. It wasn’t about more time, more effort. It became about putting in the effort I could at the time. And appreciating myself for it. And, luckily, I still saw progress in my walking. In September, seven months into quarantine, my right leg decided to cooperate, when it really hadn’t before, since my injury, and started to come through like a natural step. It happened while I was just walking around our living room with my walker. I screamed to my husband, “You’re witnessing a miracle!” It was the proudest I had been of myself throughout my entire 5 years of recovery from my spinal cord injury. And it happened while I was staying home, while we were all staying home, focusing and appreciating the little things.

I see so many people online who feel frustrated that they were, and still are, “stuck” at home because of the virus. Many of us still have to isolate because of underlying conditions which make our chances of surviving the virus much, much less than someone who doesn’t have the same underlying conditions. Because I’ve learned to appreciate what matters most, while living and surviving quarantine, I choose to say that I am “safe” at home, instead of “stuck” at home. Sometimes it’s those little things that can change your perspective entirely. 
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
What is Substantial gainful Activity or SGA according to The Social Security Administration?  

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person's disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Both SGA amounts generally change with changes in the national average wage index.

Substantial Gainful amounts for 2020 are:
For statutorily blind individuals for 2020 is $2,110.
For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2020 is $1,260.   

What is Substantial Gainful Activity anyway?

Social Security Definition of Disability: To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):

That is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

We use the term “substantial gainful activity” to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA. “Gainful” work activity is:

Work performed for pay or profit; or Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we use SGA to decide if your eligibility for benefits continues after you return to work and complete your Trial Work Period 

-Substantial Gainful Activity (Social Security Administration) a.html
-Social Security Administration. 2018 Red Book: How we define disability? 2019 edition.

If you have additional questions, call your local WIPA community project from SSA at 305 453 3491 serving South Florida, Miami, Broward, Monroe, Port Charlotte, Hendry, Collier and Lee.
The Wallet Card Project
The wallet card is a tool to be used by a teenager or an adult with a disability. Currently, we have developed cards for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities.
Access The Vote Florida (ATVFL)
ATVFL Candidate Questionnaires
Learn more about who you're voting for in November. Check out Access The Vote Florida's 2020 Candidate database. Search by Candidate Type, House District, or Senate District.
Educational Information
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
Stephanie will be back next month.
Supper Social Club - We are Virtual
black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
Virtual Supper Social Club- December 7, 2020
Zoom Link

12/07/20 6:30pm - 12/07/20 8:00pm

Virtual Supper Social Club. We will send the zoom link a few days before the event.
I'll be there!
I can't make it
Your Upward Journey
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

It is Easier Than You Think!, a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).

the miami foundation logo
logo for miami dade county the words miami dade county with a blue semicircle at the end