2021 Monthly Newsletter
A note from DIG....
clip art of the COVID-19 symbol a sphere with red flower clusters coming out of the sphere
One year into the Covid-19 pandemic, as a community, we often neglect the hardships borne by those who live with disabilities as a result of a failure to obtain access to community programs and services as well as the danger of those who are immunocompromised if they acquire the virus. It is not only a legal responsibility for government and business but a moral imperative for all of us, to ensure that we primarily serve those who are most at risk. 
cartoon of a school house with an Americana flag on the left.
COVID-19 and Remote Learning for Students with Disabilities.
During this unprecedented time of COVID-19 and remote learning, parents and kids have struggled. For some families who have been able to return to in-person school, things have returned to some kind of new normal, for other families who have not been able to return to the school building, challenges continue. For kids with a 504 plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), most lost important instruction, supports and services when schools first closed down in March 2020. For many kids, the services lost can never be recovered. But school districts are accountable for the supports and services missed. While it was hard on the school system, it was harder on these students and their families. More importantly, however, is the fact that there has never been a waiver issued excusing school districts of its obligation to provide appropriate special education services and supports during this time.

Unlike other requirements, such as testing and reporting, the obligation to provide students with a free appropriate public education also known as FAPE, continues. Children who have missed instruction, supports and services are entitled to receive compensatory education. Compensatory education is a remedy which places the student in the same position he/she would have been in had there been no violation. The harsh reality however is that most districts will not be held accountable. Either families do not have the time or energy to seek recovery of missed services or they do not have the knowledge that they are entitled to recovery and relief. Districts have not proactively reached out to families and offered any form of compensatory education and neither have the states. Thus, it falls to the families to pursue relief.

Calendar of Events
Virtual Supper Social Club
March 1, 2021
Zoom Link Below

March 5, 2021
State Chapter Meeting

FIU Embrace
March 13, 2021

FIU Embrace
May 15, 2021
Supported Decision Making/Guardianship Update

The Family Cafe
June 2021
The Wallet Card Project

The Family Cafe
June 2021
ATVFL - Update
DIG in the News
Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)
For victims/survivors with disabilities, the pandemic has been extremely hard and they have found themselves increasingly vulnerable to abuse.

While the rates of violence and abuse of people with disabilities have gone up, it has been hard for service providers to take the steps they must, to continue to provide services that are both safe and accessible.

Here are some of their challenges:

With in-person services limited, initiating services with many victim service providers, court systems, and other responders often requires survivors to make phone calls. This poses a substantial barrier for survivors with speech disabilities, cognitive or intellectual disabilities, and Deaf and hard of hearing survivors who cannot communicate effectively using a phone, and accessible alternatives, including qualified video remote interpreting, are not readily available.

Victim service providers are increasingly turning to technology to connect with survivors, but this approach poses barriers for some people with disabilities. Technology platforms that offer a high degree of data privacy and confidentiality safeguards are not fully accessible. Many people with disabilities do not have access to technology. Others, including people with intellectual disabilities, do not know how to use technology and distance learning is proving difficulty.

Tele-advocacy may prove less accessible than in-person advocacy for some survivors with disabilities. Many survivors with disabilities require personal care attendants or other support professionals to accompany them in shelter or other programming. But, this has been a challenge when victim services organizations have had to limit the number of people at service centers to reduce the spread of COVID and more easily maintain physical distancing. (Vera Institute)

The MIA is working with the provider community to ensure that all victims/survivors have access to the services they need and meet the many challenges that have been presented like those above. We are attending community meetings and making sure that we are at the table where decisions are being made. 
COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline
MUJER flyer for a COVID-19 helpline.
MUJER flyer in spanish for a COVID-19 helpline
Mujeres Unidas en Justicia, Educación y Reforma, Inc. (MUJER) announces the opening of a COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline for individuals and families in south Miami Dade.

As the nation passes the one-year anniversary for the pandemic, mental health-related complaints are skyrocketing. According to surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020, 41% of adults “reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition” with a 4x jump in depression over 2019 numbers. Significant increases in anxiety and suicidal thoughts were also reported.
These issues have not overlooked the large community of immigrants and farmworkers in Miami Dade County who have also dealt with the additional stress of needing to stay at work during this time of social isolation. “Immigrants are usually more uninformed about available health resources due to language barriers and not having an established family network” states Susan J. Rubio Rivera, MUJER’s Executive Director. “Since we have long-held relationships with this community, and the experience of running a helpline for sexual assault victims, we felt opening an additional helpline for emotional support was simply a natural fit.”
Manned 24/7 by multilingual, trained staff under the supervision of licensed clinicians, the Emotional Support Helpline will focus in three areas: 1) emergency service for individuals who are in crisis, 2) education and information about managing the symptoms of mental illness and sleep disorders, and 3) serve as a referral center for professional psychological care. All calls are confidential and users may remain anonymous if they choose. Users are also not limited to the South Miami Dade area. The phone number for the COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline is (786) 829-0099.
Financial support for this initiative has been provided from PepsiCo through the Miami Foundation, and from the Peacock Foundation.
Animal Partners
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
animal partners logo with the word animal in black with a silhouette of a puppy and then the word partners in blue
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
“Covid-19 will reshape our world. We don’t yet know when the crisis will end. But we can be sure, by the time it does, our world will look very different. How different will depend on the choices we make today.” – Josep Borrell

On January 21, 2020, the CDC confirmed the first case of Coronavirus in the United States. The first death from the virus, in America, was reported in Washington State just one month later. As we meet and surpass this grim one-year anniversary, the death count for this pandemic in America has soared beyond a truly unimaginable number of 500,000 souls lost to this deadly disease.
While business shutdowns have varied from state-to-state due to the virus, Florida is currently open for business. However, as a recent Breast Cancer survivor, still on the estrogen blocker Tamoxifen, and as someone living with a spinal cord injury and, yes, hydrocephalus on top of it all, I have chosen to stay home since last year. March 7, 2020, was my last outing, without masks, to my husband’s old high school, Christopher Columbus High, for their “Reverse Raffle” fundraiser event. There was a little discussion of the Coronavirus at the time, however, it was still a real mystery to us and when one of our friends that night refused to eat or drink anything at the event and stayed far away from us all, we thought it was a little extreme. Little did we know how right she was. Little did we know how different our world would look one year later. During this past year since that event at Columbus High, I have attended one small wedding, wore a mask, and socially distanced, but still felt very uncomfortable as not everyone there was following the CDC guidelines. It was a lesson learned for me, which could have been potentially dangerous, given my pre-existing conditions. Other than that wedding and a couple of brief trips to the grocery store with my husband, I have been home.

Education Update
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.

Wheels & Heels
Lorinda at the University of Miami Campus with a big banner with a U on it
Lorinda will be back next month.
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
Benefits from SSA for People with Disabilities
The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
Social Security Disability Insurance or Title II, Disability Benefits SSDI: pays benefits to people with disabilities and certain members of their family if the beneficiary is "insured," meaning that he/she worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
Supplemental Security Income SSI or Title XVI pays benefits to people with disabilities based on financial need.
Comparison of SSI and Title II Disability Benefits
•     Welfare program funded by federal tax dollars, not SSA trust fund
•     Limits on earned income, unearned income & resources
•     Comes with Medicaid
Title II Disability or SSDI
•     Entitlement program based upon insured status funded by SSA trust fund (SSDI, CDB, DWB)
•     No limits on unearned income or resources – just earned income
•     Comes with Medicare
Types of Benefits
Retired worker and auxiliary beneficiaries: Payment for these benefits is made from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.

  • Retired worker—beneficiary who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured and who is at least 62 years old (benefits equal to the "primary insurance amount" are payable at the normal retirement age; maximum benefits are payable at age 70)

  • Spouse of retired worker—must either (1) have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care, or (2) be at least 62 years old; applies also to divorced spouse if the marriage lasted at least 10 years

  • Child of retired worker—see 3 types of child benefits below
Survivor beneficiaries Payment for these benefits is also made from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.

  • Child of deceased worker—see 3 types of child benefits below
  • Aged widow(er)—must be at least 60 years old
  • Young widow(er)—must have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care
  • Disabled widow(er) DWB—must be disabled and be at least 50 years old (converted to aged widow(er) upon attainment of age 65)
  • Parent of deceased worker—must have been dependent on worker and be at least 62 years old
Disabled worker and auxiliary beneficiaries: Benefits are paid from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.

  • Disabled worker—beneficiary who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured and who had been working recently in covered employment prior to disability onset
  • Spouse of disabled worker—must either (1) have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care, or (2) be at least 62 years old; applies also to divorced spouse if the marriage lasted at least 10 years
  • Child of disabled worker—see 3 types of child benefits below

Types of children:
  • Minor child (under age 18)
  • Adult disabled before the age of 22
  • High school student under age 19
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.
We are going to finally expand The Wallet Card Project and add a new type of card for caregivers.
We are creating a survey to gather information on this expansion.
Stay tuned....
The survey should be ready in the next couple of weeks.
Access the Vote Florida (ATVFL)
We will have monthly meetings on the first Friday of the Month at 11am by zoom.
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
Our next Virtual Supper Social Club event will be on March 1, 2021.
Virtual Supper Social Club.

03/01/21 6:30pm - 03/01/21 7:30pm

We will be having a virtual scavenger hunt and trivia questions.
I'll be there!
I can't make it
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
Your Upward Journey
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

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