Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

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Newsletter - Volume #11 November 2016
A Note from Matt ...
Matt petting 2 goats at a farm in Massachusetts.
"I take happiness very seriously. It is a creed, a philosophy and an objective."

-Helen Keller  1935

DIG in the News
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This month, there are thousands of articles about what DIG is doing, and how we are helping our clients.  Over 300 media outlets have written articles about Arnaldo Rios, the horrible shooting in North Miami, and the attempts to find housing for Mr. Rios.  To keep up to date, please friend Disability Independence Group on Facebook, or
follow DIG at @justdigit or Matthew Dietz @dislaw.

Give Miami Day Logo for 2016
Give Miami Day was on November 17, 2016!
We raised $2,900
Thank you to everyone that donated!
Out and About with DIG
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12-5-16  City of Coral Gables ADA Public Forum, Coral Gables, FL 
12-7-16  Coral Gables Advisory Board on Disability Affairs In-house Training, Coral Gables, FL 
TBD  FL Bar Animal Law Section webinar training on Emotional Support Animals. 
January 2017  CARD Statewide Conference, Orlando, FL 
2/3/17  ABA Midyear meeting, Disability and Due Process, Miami, FL 

Students from Project SEARCH sitting at tables learning about the wallet card project.
Wallet Card Training with students from Project SEARCH
a green cross with a marijuana leaf in the middle of it.
litigationFeature Article:Medical Marijuana

On November 8th, over 71% of Florida voters approved Amendment 2, which explicitly allowed medical marijuana to be provided as a treatment for patients with the following disabilities: "cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient."
Florida joins the 27 other states and the District of Columbia to approve medical marijuana for the treatment of conditions or recreational use. The legal questions that it raises are important. When can it be used? Can you lose your job if you use marijuana, or can you lose your housing if you use medical marijuana?
Emerging treatment options
Choosing how a person with a disability enhances their lives or ameliorates the effects of a disability is an element of the right of self-determination. To have persons without disabilities remove this choice is invidious discrimination.
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Kids Crusaders Corner 

Julie will be back next month with a new article!

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Murphee the dog looking up at the camera with pink bows on her collar.
dv At The Intersection of Disability and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

My column is always fact filled with disturbing statistics at the intersection of domestic violence and disability. This month I want to share a happy tale, the story of Murphee, and her journey into my life. She is a rescue dog from Miami- Dade County Animal Services. Not the beautiful new shelter in Doral, but the old run-down place in Medley, where an animal lover need only drive up to the front door and be compelled to take a dog home. I had been visiting the shelter with Matt and Debbie as DIG works to create a jobs program for persons with disabilities. 
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at sharon@justdigit.org
The Wallet Card Logo.  A blue hexagon with the words the wallet card in the hexagon.
walletcardThe Wallet Card Project

The wallet card is a tool for young adults to use when they come into contact with law enforcement; either as a victim, a witness, or as a potential suspect.

The wallet card will help to clarify any interaction with law enforcement so that the behavior of the person with a disability is not misinterpreted as suspicious or as criminal behavior.

Click here to sign up for a wallet card

The Wallet Card Project is a collaboration with DIG, CGPD, and UM-NSU CARD.

flyer for a city of coral gables ADA public forum on dec 5, 2016

Shop Amazon Smile
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Lorinda and Maria dressed up attending an event.

By: Lorinda Gonzalez

"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
- Jim Rohn
Being happy seems so simple, yet can be a daily challenge if you seek it in the wrong places. Our society teaches us that to be happy you have to work long hours, make lots of money and accumulate "things." Cars, homes, jewelry, those new Christian Louboutin red bottom heels. All of these material items are supposed to bring us happiness, but do they really? Once you have acquired wealth and power, are you really happy? I believe that happiness is much deeper than the accumulation of material items. Sure, I love my collection red bottoms and stylish clothing as much as any other girl, but my true happiness comes from focusing on the joys of life and expecting miraculous things to happen in my experience rather than dwelling on lack.

click here to read more

About Lorinda  
Lesly Lopez head shot
Subsidies for SGA Purposes.
By: Lesly Lopez  

A few things to consider first: During an SGA determination, SSA looks at
gross wages when they were earned, not when they were paid to you. For example, if you get paid every week or every other week you will have some months when you get an extra paycheck. SSA won't count that extra paycheck when it was received - they are only interested in when the work was done that you got paid for. In addition, they will deduct any wages you were paid for days you actually did not work such as sick leave pay or vacation pay. SSA considers many things in addition to the amount you received in gross wages suc h as:
  • The value of your work compared to non-disabled coworkers and whether you got help doing your job from an agency or your employer (Subsidy/Special Conditions);
  • *Whether or not you paid expenses related to your disability because you were working, (Impairment Related Work Expenses, Business expenses, unpaid help); and
  • *How long you were able to earn more than the SGA level and whether you were unable to keep earning SGA level wages beyond 6 months due to your disability (Unsuccessful Work Attempt or UWA).

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What Makes me Happy...  
a mojito drink sitting on a table with the beach in the background.

This month's topic for the newsletter is "what makes me happy" and nothing makes me more happy than writing this article while doing what makes me happy- being on vacation. 
I'm sure being on vacation makes most of you reading this article happy. How could it not?? It's so nice being able to take a break from reality and everyday life. 
This well-deserved break took months to actually happen since I live in an area prone to hurricanes. I had to cancel vacation plans before but waiting only makes me appreciate it more. I love what I do but who doesn't love taking a break from it all. 
Since I'm on vacation this article is going to be shorter than usual. Back in the ocean! Hope you all do something nice for yourselves. You deserve it!!!

Logo for the fair housing video series.
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
patuYour Upward Journey

In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.

A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing.
penguinA Parcel of Penguins


For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or  debbie@justdigit.org. 
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Disability Independence Group, Inc.

Thank you to the organizations that support our projects.

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  Disability Independence Group, Inc. | 305-669-2822 | info@justdigit.org | www.justdigit.org