Arizona first state to stop seizing social security, disability benefits of foster children

By Bridget Dowd: Complete Post through this link…

The Arizona Department of Child Safety has adopted a new program that creates savings accounts for children in foster care.

Kids who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefits will have those funds placed in a Personal Needs Account.

For decades, child welfare agencies have seized those benefits to pay for the child’s foster care. DCS head David Lujan said Arizona is the first state in the country to stop that practice.

“Also, we are looking at other services that we can provide while children are in the foster care system, like financial literacy, financial planning, education, so that they can make good choices with those dollars as well,” he said. 

Lujan said creating the new savings accounts will create a $4 million hole in the DCS budget. He’s hoping the Legislature will make up for that deficit with money from the state’s general fund.

“I think it helps in terms of [foster children] going into adulthood, I think it helps them be able to plan more long term, and I think it just helps put all of these youth that are coming out of the foster care system on a much sounder footing,” he said.

Michigan lawmakers vote to end most juvenile court fees, citing harms

By Lauren Gibbons: Complete Post through this link…

  • Michigan lawmakers approved bills ending most court fines and fees levied in juvenile courts 
  • It was part of a larger overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system
  • The bills’ passage follows Bridge reporting on how some counties pass the costs of juvenile detentions onto families, leaving many in debt

Michigan lawmakers gave final approval to a series of bills overhauling the state’s juvenile justice system late Wednesday evening, including legislation that would eliminate most court fines and fees currently levied on youth and their families. 

The legislation, which will now head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature, would keep mandatory crime victim payments and restitution, but eliminate most other references to fines, costs and assessments. They were passed with little debate as lawmakers rushed to finalize a slew of Democratic priorities before the Legislature adjourns for the year. The bills’ passage follows recent Bridge Michigan reporting on the financial burden fines and fees impose on juvenile offenders and their families.

Social Security Backlogs Have Left Over 1 Million Americans Awaiting Benefits

By Vance Cariaga: Complete Post through this link…

ngd-The fundemental difficulty is that initial application consideration uses a set of rules for decisions that aren’t consistent with the intent of the statutory definition of disability under SSA. This results in a doubling of the number of people who are denied, with half of the denials being bogus…

The Social Security Administration has become so overwhelmed by customer service problems that even officials with the agency admit that their performance is “not acceptable.” That was how Linda Kerr-Davis, the SSA’s acting deputy commissioner of operations, described things during a recent Congressional hearing.

Kerr-Davis was there to explain why more than 1 million Americans are still waiting for initial decisions on disability benefits that currently take an average of 220 days to process.

“Pending levels and wait times for determinations on initial disability claims and disability reconsiderations are at all-time highs,” Kerr-Davis told the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee last month. “For the first time since the programs began, pending initial disability claims have exceeded 1 million. Applicants are waiting on average seven months for a decision. This is simply not acceptable — to the public, to you, or to us.”

Members of Congress — from both political parties — did not dispute that assessment. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), chairman of the Social Security panel of the Ways and Means Committee, said the consequences of SSA’s various service failures “are devastating.”

The question now is what the SSA plans to do about it. Kerr-Davis told the committee that her agency has worked to identify issues that led to the backlog and plans to take “immediate steps” to address and resolve them.

Questions and Answers on the Application of the ADA’s Integration Mandate and Olmstead v. L.C. to Employment and Day Services for People with Disabilities

From Complete Post through this link…

Nationally, a significant number of individuals with disabilities spend the majority of their daytime hours receiving public services in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. These settings segregate individuals from the community and provide little or no opportunity to interact with people without disabilities, other than paid staff.

 Guidance & Resources

Read this to get specific guidance about this topic.

The work of individuals with disabilities in segregated settings is often highly regimented and typically offers no opportunity for advancement. In many sheltered workshops, for example, people with disabilities perform highly repetitive, manual tasks, such as folding, sorting, and bagging, in shared spaces occupied only by other people with disabilities. They also often earn extremely low wages when compared to people with disabilities in integrated employment, resulting in stigmatization and a lack of economic independence. As long as individuals with disabilities who can and want to work remain in segregated work or day settings, they will be deprived of an important opportunity to interact with the community and the community will be deprived of their talents, skills, and contributions.

When people with disabilities are instead given access to supported employment services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, they have the opportunity to live fuller lives, be more integrated into the community, and gain financial independence to “move proudly into the economic mainstream of American life.” 1 These opportunities fulfill the core promises of the Americans with Disabilities Act to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self- sufficiency.” 2

State and local governments that fail to provide services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs may be failing to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. Department of Justice (the Department) has created this guidance to discuss and explain the requirements of the ADA’s integration mandate and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999), as applied to segregated employment settings and facility-based day programs.

And much more…

Non-Surgical or Dental Alternatives to CPAP

From UM Medicine: Click through for the full post…

Sleep medicine dentists at Michigan Medicine offer a non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea known as a sleep apnea oral appliance. The sleep apnea oral appliance is suitable for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who have attempted CPAP without improvement or who could not tolerate using CPAP and do not want to pursue a surgical approach. To learn more about surgeries for obstructive sleep apnea, visit our Surgical Alternatives to CPAP page.

Sleep Study and Dental Impressions
A sleep study with a trial oral appliance may be recommended to determine the effectiveness of your future sleep apnea oral appliance. This test would be conducted in the sleep lab before fabricating a sleep apnea oral appliance, using a remote-controlled device. During your sleep study, the sleep technician moves your mandible (lower jaw or jawbone) electronically in small increments backward and forward within a range to determine the most effective protrusive (forward) mandibular position to decrease your sleep apnea events. The results of the study enable a dentist to prescribe the most effective sleep apnea oral appliance therapy.

If the results indicate that you may benefit from a sleep apnea oral appliance, dental impressions and a registration of your bite are made to fabricate the oral appliance.

Mandibular Advancement Device
The most common type of appliance is the mandibular advancement device, which moves your mandible (lower jaw or jawbone) forward to determine the best position where you may gain the most benefit.

Once you begin to use your sleep apnea oral appliance, you will be evaluated for proper fit and effectiveness, and adjustments forward or backward may be necessary. You will be followed by your dentist until your OSA condition has subjectively improved enough to be objectively evaluated by your sleep specialist, who will determine if your condition has truly improved. This may require another sleep study while wearing the sleep apnea oral appliance.

How OTC Hearing Aids Changed My World and May Ward Off Dementia

By Maryan Pelland: Click through for the full post…

I didn’t know what I had lost until I got it back.

A pair of non-prescription, digital in-ear hearing aids made me younger and more beautiful. No, really — I felt old when my biggest contribution to conversation became, “I’m sorry, what?” And it isn’t attractive to carp, “Speak up, for the love of God.”

Follow along and see how my OTC hearing devices are life-altering, cognitively uplifting, and an epiphany at the same time.

Hearing aids, the quality of life, and dementia cites a clinical trial by Dr. Frank Lin from Johns Hopkins University that compared the rate of cognitive decline over a three-year period between people who did and didn’t receive hearing aids. The group with hearing aids had an almost 50% reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.

“Hearing loss is very treatable in later life, which makes it an important public health target to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia,” Lin said.

His colleagues found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Read that sentence again, please. Mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health, and a significant number of other health experts agree.

Medicare Open Enrollment

From CMS: Click through for the full post…

When’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 – December 7.

What’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year—things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

How do people know if they need to change plans?

People in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for the following year. If they’re satisfied that their current plans will meet their needs for next year and it’s still being offered, they don’t need to do anything.

When can people get information about next year’s Medicare plans?

Information for next year’s plans will be available beginning in October.

Where can people find Medicare plan information or compare plans?

1-800-MEDICARE or

Whitmer signs bills guaranteeing lead screening for young Michigan children

BY: JON KING: Complete Post through this link…

Bipartisan bills to guarantee the screening of minors for lead poisoning in Michigan were signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The legislation requires all children be tested for lead poisoning between 12 and 24 months of age, while also allowing for parents to opt out if they choose to do so.

“In Michigan, we know the importance of safe drinking water and the devastating, long-lasting impacts of lead exposure,” said Whitmer. “With our historic investments in water infrastructure over the last five years, our work to replace tens of thousands of lead service lines, and [Tuesday’s] bills to test children for lead exposure, we will protect our water and our children.” 

During hearings earlier this year on the bills, health professionals, parent advocates and lawmakers supported both of the bills that were signed into law Tuesday.

2023 Employment Success Stories

From MIDDC: Complete Post through this link…

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of all workers with disabilities.

During NDEAM, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council will be sharing stories where people with disabilities successfully obtained competitive-integrated employment (CIE).

CIE is defined as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual is:

  • Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
  • Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
  • At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and
  • Presented opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities in similar positions.

If you have experience with CIE, and you would like to participate, please complete the questions below. If you are selected, we will contact you before sharing your employment story on our website and Facebook page.

If you prefer to complete this survey over the phone, please send an email to to schedule a phone interview.

Think DIFFERENTLY Initiative Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Students With Disabilities Access Resources to Succeed in School

From Molinaro Website: Complete Post through this link…

U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19) today introduced the Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act. This bipartisan bill helps parents of children with disabilities advocate for the resources their child needs to succeed in school. It builds on Rep. Molinaro’s successful ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ initiative. Rep. Molinaro introduced this bipartisan bill alongside U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY-04), and Mike Lawler (R-NY-17).

In an annual IEP meeting, school staff and parents of a child with a disability meet to develop an educational plan for the student. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, parents have the right to bring a third-party advocate, such as a therapist, lawyer, or knowledgeable family member, to these meetings. However, most parents are not aware of this right.

The Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act requires K-12 schools to inform parents of their right to bring an advocate to individualized education program (IEP) meetings.