Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Can YOU Help?

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I hope you read my post on Advocacy Day.  If not, please take a minute to read this before continuing on with this post as it is directly related.

I decided to do another post regarding Advocacy Day because I want to not just touch on what I did, but what our group was actually asking for.  I'm not going to cover everything, but want to touch on the Acts and give places to find more information about each of them. These things aren't just important and relevant to Fragile X, but also to autism and countless other families living with special needs.   I would like to share this information and then challenge each and every person that reads this blog to submit their own letter to their members of Congress.

Achieving A Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act)
The purpose of the ABLE Act is very simply to allow for those persons with disabilities to have an account that they can set aside money to help with expenses for living but where they will not lose benefits provided to them such as SSI or Medicaid.  Currently, to receive those benefits there are restrictions on income and a total allowable assets of no more than $2000.  Simply put, the current laws actually discourage anyone with any type of disability from having a job, home, or really being productive, independent members of society if their income would exceed that amount.

If passed, the ABLE Act would become a subsection of Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.  It would follow all the requirements of a traditional 529 qualified tuition program.

You can read more about the ABLE Act with these links:

A brief overview of the ABLE Act in 113th Congress
Read about H.R. 647 in its' entirety and see who has co-sponsored it.
Read about S. 313 in its' entirety and see who has co-sponsored it
Current news article about the ABLE Act

Transition toward Excellence, Achievement & Mobility Acts (A Three Bill Package) also known as TEAM Acts.
This is a really big act, and I'm going to make it as simple as possible.  This set of bills would help those with disabilities with the transition from school age to adulthood by re-aligning current federal programs to focus on helping youth become gainfully employed, pursue a post-secondary education, and engage in typical community settings/activities upon leaving high school.

Each parent works hard for their child to be as independent as possible upon leaving high school, a parent of a special needs child is no different except our children often need more help to achieve those goals.  These acts are really just updating older laws in place to encourage those with disabilities to become productive members of society. The original laws it is trying to change were put in place when it was a normal thing to institutionalize those with disabilities, it really is very archaic and not at all helpful to society as a whole.

TEAM Act Overview from NDSS
TEAM Act Summary from Autism Society of Ohio

So now that you know a little bit about these bills...I need your help.  Your voice.  I'm going to make it SO SIMPLE for you.

1)  Find your local Senator(s) and Representative HERE.
2)  Open THIS document and either download it or copy it to a blank email.  Fill in your Senator(s) and/or Representatives name at the top, then your personal information at the bottom - these sections are in italics.  You may also update the first paragraph to personalize it more if you wish.
3)  Print off and mail to your representative OR email them - their contact information will be on that first link you went to.

If this STILL isn't simple enough for you... email me.  cmasters (AT) gmail.com  [you'll have to type that one out].  Include your zip code and personal information and I will prepare the letter for you, then email it back to you so you can submit it.   It doesn't get easier, folks.  Five or ten minutes is all it should take.  Stop only thinking about politics during election years or financial crisis - take action NOW.  When it matters.

These adorable little faces (and the faces of many others affected by a developmental disability) will thank you.


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