Newsletter 2019
A note from Matt......
Happy Halloween! Please enjoy this month’s newsletter. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays!

My Summer at DIG
By: James Coner
james and matt standing in the dig office next to the filing cabinets with the dog on the floor behind them
When one thinks of civil rights movements, the fight for equality for persons with disabilities may not immediately come to mind. I had always considered myself aware of discrimination against those with disabilities; however, there was plenty more for me to learn regarding these issues. During my eleven weeks with Disability Independence Group (DIG), I gained unique insight into some of the barriers facing persons with disabilities. This involved working on discrimination cases (concerning disability and beyond) as well as participating in community outreach. I partook in a Wallet Card Project training between children with disabilities in the community and local police officers. The project aims to improve communication between the two sides so that altercations and tragedy may be avoided.
I was also able to work on an Office on Violence Against Women grant that DIG is a part of. This grant enabled DIG to partner with three other organizations serving Miami-Dade County: Mujeres Unidas en Justicia, Educacion, y Reforma, Inc. (MUJER); Dade Legal Aid (Legal Aid); and Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department, Coordinated Victim Assistance Center (CVAC). Together, they formed the Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA). The MIA addresses gaps and barriers that exist for survivors with disabilities. The work in which the Alliance is engaged is critical, and I consider myself immensely privileged to have been involved in some capacity.
My experience was further enhanced by the people (and dogs!) of DIG. The collaborative environment fostered by DIG, along with the considerable work ethic and integrity of everyone in the office, made me excited to come into work each day. I am grateful to have spent this past summer within such an amazing organization!
Litigation: Update
scales of justice
In January 2019, I began representing a student in Sarasota, Florida. It was a strange case. This student had a learning disability and was functioning well below grade level, yet he was in a general education setting with little support. No one could explain how this student got to this place in his academic career. A review of the records only made things more confusing. This student had an average IQ but in third grade we was removed from his general education curriculum and placed on a modified curriculum. He was moved just days before the FCAT (now FSA). This student was poor, African American and had an IEP. There were, and there still are, requirements for the District to ensure that poor, African American or disabled students make adequate process each year. This student checked all those high risk, highly watched, boxes. Moving him to a modified curriculum in third grade ensured that he did not have to take the FCAT. His progress was no longer being monitored or reported to the state or the federal government. He became invisible. He remained that way - all the way through elementary school and middle school. In 2016 (six years later), the state told the district that there was a problem with students like this one being on modified curriculums. Modified curriculum was reserved for only those students with a significant cognitive impairment. This student did not have a cognitive impairment. He had a language deficit. Thus he had to be taken off a modified curriculum. Abruptly his paperwork was changed reflecting a move to a general education curriculum. But the student remained in the same class, with the same teachers, with the same students for the remaining of that school year (8 th grade) which was his last year in middle school. He did not take the FSA or any standardized testing that school year. He was entered into the National Junior Honor Society. He thought he was a good student, doing well in school. He had no idea what was about to happen to him.    

Vote for California Pizza Kitchen
black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
The City of Coral Gables is celebrating Disability Awareness Month with the inaugural City for All Award, to recognize and reward local businesses for actions they are taking to make accessibility and inclusion a priority.
There are three finalist and California Pizza Kitchen is one of the finalists.
You can vote by clicking the link below:
Voting will close at 5 pm on October 28, 2019.
The winner will be announced at the City Commission Meeting on November 12, 2019.
DIG in the News
Out & About with DIG

FIU Embrace Training - Social Security Benefits
November 2, 2019
Miami, FL

Supper Social Club
November 4, 2019
Coral Gables, FL

ATVFL Meeting
November 15, 2019

Give Miami Day 2019
November 21, 2019

Supper Social Club
December 2, 2019
Coral Gables, FL

10th Circuit's Fairness & Diversity Summit
December 5, 2019
Polk County, FL

Spectrum Family Fair
December 14, 2019
Miami, FL
give miami day with date 11.21.19
sharon and debbie standing at the pace center luncheon
Debbie and Sharon at the Pace Luncheon
pace center luncheon with lester commissioner levine cava sharon and ken bloom
Lester, Sharon, Ken Bloom, and Commissioner Levine Cava
Matt public defender carlos martinez stephanie and andrew getting ready to do a training on asd
Matt, Public Defender Carlos Martinez, Stephanie, and Andrew
Happy birthday steph and matt blowing out the candles on their ice cream sundaes
Happy Birthday to Matt and Stephanie
debbie sharon and officer denham at under a white tent for the wallet card project
Debbie, Sharon, and Officer Denham at City of Coral Gables Event
collage of pictures from supper social club everyone sitting and eating at the restuarant
Supper Social Club October 2019.
debbie and walter at miami dade college standing in front of a screen with dig logo in the background
Walter and Debbie and Miami-Dade College
rob keenya and matt in baltimore at the nfha conference
Rob, Keenya, and Matt in Baltimore at the NFHA Conference
matt and retired judge zabel in his office standing
Matt and Retired Judge Zabel recording a podcast.
Miami Inclusion Alliance
statutes of naked people in chains in contorted positions
lynching inscription private james neely was lynched in hampton ga in 1898 for complaining when a white store owner refused to serve him
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice.” -Martin Luther king Jr.

This past month I had the opportunity to visit the new Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. The museum is built on the site of a former warehouse where slaves were imprisoned and is a state of the art interactive museum. You start your journey through the museum at slave pen replicas, where you can see, hear and get close to what it was like to be imprisoned in Montgomery waiting to be sold at auction. There are first person accounts from enslaved people that are narrating the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade. At every turn there is a sight or sound that both horrifies and educates. Part two of the experience is a few blocks away. It is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of the enslaved. The memorial is a 6 acre site that uses sculpture to contextualize racial terror and oppression. Its impact goes to both your heart and your soul. The memorial contains over 800 steel monuments, one for each county in the US where lynchings took place. Each steel piece is engraved with the names of victims from that county. The steel monuments begin above your head and as you travel through the memorial they become eye level and finally there are many that lie as a tombstone on the ground. It clearly portrays the horror of lynching in a visceral and impactful way. I recommend a trip for everyone to Montgomery to visit this museum and memorial. I believe pictures share it best, so here are a few to give you a visual. 
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Early detection saves lives.

I went for an annual checkup with my doctor in February earlier this year. Among other things, she stressed to me how important it was for me to get a mammogram since I hadn’t had one yet, and I was already 44. It was something I was always meaning to do, but just kept putting it off. Then, I became disabled after a fall in front of my house, which came with its own set of complications in my life. Honestly, getting a mammogram was not at the top of my “to do” list.

I explained to my doctor that I had been through so many tests and surgeries over the past couple of years associated with my spinal cord injury, that I wasn’t really rushing to add yet another exam on to my list. She insisted and explained the importance of the mammogram to me, especially at my age. She gave me a prescription and I reluctantly scheduled the appointment. Finally.

I was apprehensive going into the exam, especially since I am in a wheelchair. Don’t you have to stand to do the test? How will they accommodate me in the chair? When I showed up for the mammogram, I was relieved that the machine and tech were very accommodating to me in my chair.

As we close out October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think it’s important to share my story to encourage other women to stop putting off your screenings. Get your mammogram. It is so important. Screening tests are used to find breast cancer before it causes any symptoms or warning signs. Screening tests can find breast cancer early, when the chances of survival are highest. A mammogram can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor. During mine, they found a small mass, which was biopsied and discovered to be invasive ductal carcinoma. I had breast cancer. It was a rather early stage, and, because of that, I was lucky enough not to have to endure the mastectomy, as a lumpectomy was the preferred procedure to remove the tumor and any effected lymph nodes. Also, since it was discovered early, I did not have to have chemotherapy. I had subsequent radiation instead.

I had been putting off getting a mammogram for years. I did self-exams, and I figured since I didn’t have any symptoms, I didn’t need to have one until I was older. I made every excuse in the book. Ultimately, I am so thankful my physician continued to put the pressure on me to get my screening done. Women ages 40 to 45 or older who are at average risk of breast cancer should have a mammogram once a year.

If I can go, in my wheelchair, after everything I’ve been through, you can too.

Kids Crusaders
Kids Crusaders Logo
Julie will be back soon.
Lucille's Wall
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
Halloween and your Pets

With Halloween around the corner, houses start to change shape, color, and decorations. A beautiful season for a spooky holiday. Many people stop to gawk at such wonderful imaginative ideas and creations. However some of our four legged friends may not be as thrilled to see ghouls, ghost, and skeletons roaming the lawns.

Now don’t take this as you cannot enjoy such a festive holiday. Just be aware if you are the one that owns the not so happy four-legged friend to find new routes or use training to help relieve your furry companion of their stress. Walking around days prior isn’t the issue though; It’s the day of Halloween.

Costumes, crazy energy changes, spooky houses, and unsafe treats and foods that are meant for people and not animals.

The night of Halloween is when all things change. Candy is not a healthy treat for any furry animal, especially candy with actual chocolate. If you have a dog that doesn’t like wearing clothes don’t force them to wear a silly costume. If your furry companion is known to be scared of people in weird clothes or in this case costumes do not bring them trick or treating with you and the family. You might want to enjoy “Family time” even with your furry friends but sometimes letting them stay home is safer. Your furry friend does not need to be with you in every detail of your life especially ones that scare or may harm them.

That doesn’t mean Halloween is all bad, not at all. It can be fun and festive for you, your family, as well as your furry friends. If you do have that type of companion then of course enjoy the festivities. Be safe, watch what is being given to your furry friend, watch what they pick up from the floor, and watch how they react to people interacting with them. You know your furry companion so do not force them to do something they will not enjoy.

Have a happy, safe, and wonderful holiday Season!

K. de Boehmler
The Wallet Card Project
the wallet card words in a diamond shape blue figure
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.
Wheels & Heels
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.
Lorinda will be back soon

black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
We are having a raffle this month.

Everyone that attends will be entered into the raffle.

Raffle prizes.
supper social club flyer with dates for august september october november and december the flyer is red yellow and black
Supper Social Club - November 2019
California Pizza Kitchen, 300 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

11/04/19 6:30pm - 11/04/19 8:30pm

I'll be there!
I can't make it
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
Work incentives Protecting Health Coverage for People with Disabilities

Many SSA beneficiaries are afraid of losing their health insurance coverage because of employment however SSA provides protections to SSA beneficiaries to be able to work and keep their Medicare or Medicaid.

Extended Medicare Coverage for Working People with Disabilities. Beneficiaries receiving SSDI

As long as your disabling condition still meets our rules, you can keep your Medicare coverage for at least 8 ½ years after you return to work. (The 8 ½ years includes your nine month trial work Period)
Your Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) coverage is premium-free. Your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) coverage will also continue. You or a third party (if applicable) will continue to pay for Part B. If your Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits stop due to your work, you or a third party (if applicable) will be billed every 3 months for your medical insurance premiums. If you are receiving cash benefits, your medical insurance premiums will be deducted monthly from your check.

Continued Medicaid Eligibility (Section 1619(B)). Beneficiaries receiving SSI

One of the biggest concerns SSI beneficiaries have about going to work is the possibility of losing Medicaid coverage. Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act provides some protection for these beneficiaries. To qualify for continuing Medicaid coverage, a person must:
  • Have been eligible for an SSI cash payment for at least 1 month;
  • Still meet the disability requirement; and
  • Still meet all other non-disability SSI requirements; and
  • Need Medicaid benefits to continue to work; and
  • Have gross earnings that are insufficient to replace SSI, Medicaid and publicly funded attendant care services.

This means that SSI beneficiaries who have earnings too high for a SSI cash payment may be eligible for Medicaid if they meet the above requirements. SSA uses a threshold amount to measure whether a person’s earnings are high enough to replace his/her SSI and Medicaid benefits. This threshold is based on the:
  • amount of earnings which would cause SSI cash payments to stop in the person’s State; and
  • Average Medicaid expenses in that State.
If a SSI beneficiary has gross earnings higher than the threshold amount for his/her State, SSA can figure an individual threshold amount if that person has:
The state of Florida 2019 annual threshold amounts for disabled and blind beneficiaries is $31,464.

Other health care coverage options while you work:


If you are a SSI or SSDI beneficiary and needs an individualized analysis of your situation please contact the Community Work Incentives Coordinator or benefits Planner in your area. For South Florida contact the WIPA project at 305 453 3491    -- Lesly Quin

ATV Florida!
access the vote logo with state of Florida in the middle with the words inclusive and accessible elections for all Floridians with disabilities
Join one of our new standing committees

ATVFL Outreach Committee – this committee will meet regularly to discuss planning and execution of ATVFL’s outreach efforts and related collaboration to counties and supervisors’ offices (our first phase of these efforts are underway and in draft format); this includes working to set up and build awareness of events such as poll worker education, equipment demonstrations, town halls and panel discussions with election officials, recruitment of poll workers with disabilities, voter education, et cetera.

ATVFL Candidate Engagement Committee – this committee will meet as appropriate to discuss approaches and opportunities to engage candidates for office at all levels of government (federal, state, county, and municipal) on the necessity of disability inclusion in voting/elections issues, but also on issues of importance to the disability community; this will include the possibility of structuring candidate questionnaires, organizing candidate forums, assisting others in the state hosting candidate events to make those events adequately accessible, compiling resources and information regarding website accessibility for distribution to the parties and campaigns, et cetera.

ATVFL Voter Engagement Committee – this committee will meet to discuss ways to increase voter participation and turnout within the disability community at multiple levels, including consideration of GOTV (Get Out the Vote) activities and efforts, planning for National Disability Voter Registration Week as well as National Voter Registration Week, and other needed avenues to ensure inclusion of a disability voting/elections presence in the state within other GOTV efforts underway.
Educational Information
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
educational support flyer that lists prices for consultations school meetings and legal representation

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!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).