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The Crisis in Social Security Disability: Delays, Deaths and Urgent Reforms


Overview of the Social Security Disability Crisis

Tragic Losses Amid Delays
In fiscal 2023, an alarming statistic emerged as Martin O’Malley, the Social Security Commissioner, revealed that 30,000 individuals passed away while awaiting decisions on their Social Security disability claims. This disclosure underscores the severe customer service issues plaguing the agency, largely attributed to insufficient funding and staffing shortages.

The Impact of Waiting
David Camp, CEO of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, emphasized the critical nature of these delays. Many claimants depend on these benefits for essential income and healthcare. Delays can be fatal, particularly for those with severe health conditions, highlighting the urgent need for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to minimize wait times and improve service delivery.

Current Challenges and Operational Backlogs

Waiting Times and Claim Backlogs
As of the latest fiscal year, the wait for an initial disability decision stretched to nearly eight months, with over 1.1 million pending claims. Additional processes, such as reconsiderations and hearings, extend these waiting periods further, exacerbating the challenges faced by claimants.

Funding and Staffing Woes
Commissioner O’Malley pointed to a drastic reduction in staffing levels and complex administrative requirements as primary obstacles. The SSA operates with notably low overhead funding relative to the private sector, which O’Malley argued needs to be increased to enhance the agency’s operational capacity.

Legislative and Operational Strategies

Strategic Administrative Changes
Efforts are underway to improve SSA’s efficiency through increased hiring, leveraging technology, and restructuring internal operations. For example, O’Malley has introduced bi-weekly operational scrums to address top issues more dynamically and ensure accountability.

Policy Enhancements and Future Plans
There are also movements toward legislative reforms to alleviate administrative burdens, particularly within the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Long-term goals include redesigning the SSI application process to make it more accessible and less cumbersome.

A Call for Comprehensive Reform
The SSA’s challenges are profound, but Commissioner O’Malley’s commitment to addressing these issues is evident. With strategic changes and adequate funding, there is hope for significant improvements in service delivery and reductions in the tragic outcomes of delayed disability determinations.

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Juno Pioneers Child Disability Insurance, Offers New Hope for Families


Every year, over 100,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with serious illnesses or disabilities, adding to the existing 2 million children already living with such conditions. These health issues not only reveal new family strengths and perspectives but also introduce significant challenges, including financial burdens. Costs associated with child disability, such as uncovered medical expenses and lost earnings, often surpass $1 million, leaving American families to face these hardships largely on their own.

Juno’s Innovative Insurance Solution

In response to these challenges, Juno, a public benefit corporation, has introduced Child Disability Insurance, a pioneering benefit in the U.S. This insurance, available through employers, offers critical financial support and personalized assistance for families if their child develops a severe illness, disability, or injury. Juno’s insurance provides up to $1 million in coverage, distributed in monthly installments over a decade, for children up to age 26.

Support Services and Impact

The insurance not only helps with direct costs but also includes services to help families manage their child’s condition effectively. This can range from navigating complex medical information to accessing additional resources and crafting a comprehensive care plan. Juno’s initiative also serves to align corporate values with employee needs, enhancing talent attraction and retention for businesses.

National Comparison and Future Prospects

Unlike many countries where national safety nets exist, U.S. families previously lacked substantial financial support for child disabilities. Juno’s co-founder and CEO, Jordan Epstein, emphasized that this insurance fills a crucial gap, addressing a major financial vulnerability for parents. With child disability rates rising, businesses recognize the frequency and profound impact of these challenges on workforce stability and productivity.

About Juno

Juno, a public benefit corporation, introduces Child Disability Insurance—a novel employee benefit in the U.S. This insurance provides substantial, long-term financial support and tailored assistance for children from birth up to the age of 26 who experience severe illness, injury, or disability. Established by a seasoned group of leaders in insurance, benefits, and technology, Juno aims to create an impactful financial safety net for parents nationwide. As part of its commitment to social responsibility, Juno allocates 2% of every premium to support organizations focused on researching childhood disabilities and rare diseases, as well as those offering direct aid to families.

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Landmark Signing of the Tennessee Disability and Aging Act


In a decisive move to improve services for the elderly and people with disabilities, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has enacted the Tennessee Disability and Aging Act. This landmark legislation, which garnered unanimous bipartisan support, merges the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) to create the new Department of Disability and Aging (DDA).

Objectives and Benefits of the New Law

Governor Lee highlighted the reform as a step towards a government that functions more efficiently and effectively. The primary aim is to enhance the quality of life for Tennessee’s residents aged 65 and older—a demographic that is expanding quickly. Elevating TCAD to a departmental level is expected to enhance strategic planning and advocacy efforts significantly.

Bipartisan Support and Legislative Insights

The legislation received accolades from leaders across political lines. Senator Becky Massey, a principal sponsor, noted that merging the departments allows for more concentrated attention on issues crucial to both individuals with disabilities and seniors. She expressed confidence that the newly formed DDA would provide exemplary services and advocacy for these key groups. Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and others have also praised the merger for its potential to foster better coordination and stronger advocacy, enhancing the independence and dignity of all Tennesseans.

Community Response and Advocacy

Community advocates, including Janice Wade-Whitehead, President & CEO of Alzheimer’s Tennessee, have lauded the legislation as a significant advancement for the aging community. She pointed out the expected benefits for the state’s 360,000 family caregivers and noted the enthusiasm among advocates for the comprehensive, attentive service the DDA is anticipated to provide.

Leadership and Future Goals of the DDA

Under the leadership of Commissioner Brad Turner, the new Department of Disability and Aging vows to focus on providing necessary assistance to help people maintain their independence, health, and quality of life into their later years. The creation of the DDA represents a forward-thinking approach to government restructuring, aimed at upholding the rights and dignities of those often on the margins of society.

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Disney Cracks Down on Disability Access Misuse, Threatens Lifetime Bans


Disney resorts in California and Florida are enforcing stricter rules on the misuse of their disability program, and have warned of potential lifetime bans for violations.

This week, Disney introduced modifications to its Disability Access Services (DAS) program, designed to aid guests with neurodivergent conditions like autism. The popularity of the program has surged, leading to longer waits in attraction lines and congested Genie+ lanes.

The utilization of Disney’s DAS has increased threefold over the past five years, with evidence suggesting some are exploiting the system. Online videos promoting a “Disneyland line hack” to bypass long lines by exploiting DAS have spread widely.

Disney has warned that any guest found to have falsified their need for DAS will face permanent bans. The company stated, “Guests found to have made false statements to obtain DAS will be banned from Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Additionally, any passes, tickets, or other purchases will not be refunded.”

While it’s not specified how Disney plans to detect fraudulent use, the parks are equipped with extensive security camera systems and guards to monitor suspicious activities.

Guests must now pre-register for DAS and consult with trained staff to assess their eligibility. Not all visitors with disabilities will require DAS.

For those currently using DAS, the program is valid for 60 days, or until their park visit ends. However, visits after May 18 at Disney World and June 20 at Disneyland will allow a 120-day use of the program.

A Walt Disney World Resort spokesperson told USA Today, “We are committed to ensuring all guests, including those with disabilities, have an excellent experience, which is why we offer various innovative support services.”

The updated program permits up to four companions per DAS user unless the group consists of family members, in which case the entire family can join together.

These changes aim to preserve the integrity of the program, which has become the most utilized service, and ensure it remains available for those genuinely in need. Disney also offers other disability accommodations like the Location Return Times program for mobility issues, ASL interpreters, braille guides, and sensory guides for attractions.

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Celebrating Sibling Bonds: National Siblings Day and Disability


National Siblings Day, celebrated each year on April 10th, is a day set aside to honor the unique relationships between siblings. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the bonds of love, friendship, and the deep connections that develop over a lifetime. For families with a sibling who has a disability, this day carries additional significance, offering a chance to acknowledge the distinctive experiences these relationships bring, as well as the mutual support and understanding that flourishes within them.

Understanding the Sibling Dynamic: Navigating Family Challenges

The sibling dynamic within families where one or more members have a disability can be deeply influenced by the practical realities of caregiving, financial pressures, and the distribution of parental attention. These factors can shape the experiences and relationships of all family members, often in complex ways.

The Impact of Caregiving

In many families, the caregiving responsibilities for a sibling with a disability can significantly impact daily routines, family interactions, and long-term planning. Siblings may take on caregiving roles from a young age, contributing to household responsibilities, assisting with the care of their sibling, or even making sacrifices in their own lives to accommodate the family’s needs. While these experiences can foster a deep sense of responsibility and maturity, they may also lead to feelings of pressure or loss of childhood spontaneity. Balancing these responsibilities with their own needs for growth, education, and socialization is a key challenge for siblings.

Financial Stresses and Their Effects

The financial impact of caring for a family member with a disability cannot be understated. The costs associated with medical care, therapy, adaptive equipment, and potentially modified living accommodations can place a significant strain on family finances. This financial pressure can affect the entire family’s lifestyle, opportunities, and stress levels. Siblings might witness the hard choices parents have to make regarding financial priorities, which can lead to feelings of guilt, worry, or resentment. Understanding the financial implications and learning to navigate these challenges is an essential part of the family’s journey.

Navigating Parental Attention

The distribution of parental attention is a delicate aspect of the sibling dynamic in families with a disability. Naturally, parents may need to devote more time, attention, and resources to the care of a child with a disability, which can lead to siblings feeling overlooked or secondary. It’s important for parents and caregivers to communicate openly with all their children, acknowledging the unique needs and contributions of each family member. Creating spaces for individual attention and recognition of each sibling’s achievements and challenges can help mitigate feelings of neglect and promote a more balanced family dynamic.

Building a Supportive Family Environment

Mother draws with children at home. Development of a child with cerebral palsy. Friendship caring kindness and love. Rehabilitation by creativity. Family with a disabled child.

Fostering a supportive family environment is crucial for navigating the complexities of the sibling dynamic. This involves:

  • Open Communication: Encouraging open and honest discussions about feelings, frustrations, and needs can help siblings feel heard and valued.
  • Family Time: Prioritizing family activities that include all members can reinforce the bonds between siblings and create shared memories and experiences.
  • Individual Recognition: Celebrating each child’s achievements and acknowledging their unique challenges helps to ensure that all family members feel seen and appreciated.
  • External Support: Seeking support from external resources such as family therapy, support groups, and recreational programs for siblings can provide additional coping strategies and a sense of community.

Understanding the sibling dynamic within families where disability is a factor requires a nuanced appreciation of the challenges and opportunities these relationships present. By addressing the caregiving responsibilities, financial stresses, and the distribution of parental attention with sensitivity and support, families can strengthen their bonds and navigate the journey together.

Adult Siblings Transitioning to Caregivers

An older man with Downs Syndrome, hugs his older sister as they sit on a couch.

As parents age or pass away, the responsibility of caring for an adult sibling with a disability often transitions to their adult siblings. This shift can be significant and comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities that requires careful planning, emotional adjustment, and ongoing support.

Navigating Legal and Financial Responsibilities

One of the first challenges that adult siblings may face involves legal and financial planning. It’s crucial to ensure that all legal documentation, such as guardianship, trusts, and wills, are in place and reflect the current and future needs of the sibling with a disability. Financial planning is equally important, as managing the costs associated with long-term care, including medical expenses, housing needs, and daily support, requires careful budgeting and resources. Accessing professional advice from legal and financial experts specialized in disability care can provide essential guidance.

Emotional and Practical Adjustments

Taking on the role of a primary caregiver for a sibling can be a significant emotional journey. Adult siblings may experience a range of feelings, from compassion and dedication to overwhelm and anxiety about their new responsibilities. Practically, this transition often requires adjustments to one’s lifestyle, employment, and personal relationships to accommodate the caregiving role. Support from other family members, friends, and community resources can be invaluable during this adjustment period.

Sustaining Personal Health and Well-being

It’s important for sibling caregivers to maintain their own health and well-being. This includes regular medical check-ups, mental health support, and time off from caregiving duties. Balancing caregiving with personal needs can help prevent caregiver burnout and ensure that the sibling relationship remains strong and positive.

Maintaining Family Relationships

Maintaining a healthy relationship with a sibling with a disability involves more than just caregiving; it’s about nurturing the sibling bond. This can be fostered by sharing experiences, reminiscing about shared childhood memories, and continuing to participate in enjoyable activities together. Ensuring that the sibling with a disability remains integrated within the wider family circle is crucial for their social and emotional well-being.

Transitioning to the role of caregiver for an adult sibling with a disability is a profound change that requires compassion, resilience, and support. By planning carefully, seeking appropriate resources, and maintaining their own health, adult siblings can manage this important role effectively while preserving the loving and supportive relationship that has likely spanned their entire lives.

Resources and Communities

A tender sibling mixed race scene as a curly-haired girl blows bubbles for her younger sister, both dressed in matching stripes, used for National Siblings day and sisterhood.

Support for families where siblings have disabilities is crucial. A variety of resources and communities exist to assist. Search local, state, federal and online resources for:

  • Family Support Groups: Many organizations offer support groups for families, providing a space to share experiences and advice. These groups can be invaluable for siblings seeking understanding and community.
  • Educational Workshops and Events: Workshops focused on understanding disabilities, legal rights, and advocacy offer families and siblings tools to navigate their unique challenges effectively.
  • Recreational Programs: Programs designed for individuals with disabilities and their families can offer opportunities for fun, relaxation, and building relationships outside of the home environment.
  • Professional Caregivers: Employing professional caregivers can provide necessary respite and assist with daily caregiving tasks, reducing the burden on the sibling caregiver.
  • Community Resources: Local disability services organizations can offer various supports, including day programs, occupational therapy, and social activities, which can enhance the quality of life for the sibling with a disability.
  • The Sibling Support Project: A national program dedicated to the interests of brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and emotional needs.
  • The Arc: A community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

National Siblings Day provides an important moment to recognize the unique relationships between siblings, especially in the context of disability. It’s a time to honor the shared journey, the mutual support, and the deep bonds that are formed. These relationships are a powerful reflection of the diverse ways in which families come together and support one another through life’s journey, highlighting the value of understanding, patience, and unconditional support.

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Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child’s Financial Future (NOLO Special Needs Trusts)
  • Urbatsch Attorney, Kevin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 09/26/2023 (Publication Date) – NOLO (Publisher)
Multiple Dimensions of Caregiving and Disability (Caregiving: Research • Practice • Policy)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Talley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 236 Pages – 06/28/2012 (Publication Date) – Springer (Publisher)
Sibshops: Workshops for Siblings of Children with Support Needs
  • Meyer M.Ed., Don (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 11/28/2023 (Publication Date) – Brookes Publishing (Publisher)

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A Closer Look at Parkinson’s Awareness Month: Statistics, Support, and Resources


April serves as a beacon of hope and a call to action for the approximately one million Americans currently living with Parkinson’s disease, as well as their caregivers, healthcare providers, and advocates. Parkinson’s Awareness Month aims not only to raise awareness about this neurodegenerative disorder but also to foster support and propel research efforts toward finding a cure.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. This leads to hallmark symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). The disease can also manifest through a wide array of non-motor symptoms, including mood disorders, sleep disruptions, and cognitive challenges.

Impact of Parkinson’s Disease

The impact of Parkinson’s disease extends far beyond its physical symptoms. Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s, and this number is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. The emotional, social, and economic toll on patients and their families is significant, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive support services and ongoing research for better treatments and a cure.

Resources for Information and Help

  • Parkinson’s Foundation: Provides extensive information on Parkinson’s, the latest research findings, and resources for patients and caregivers.
  • Michael J. Fox Foundation: A leading organization focused on Parkinson’s research, offering resources for those affected by the disease and opportunities to support research efforts.
  • American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA): Provides resources and information on education, support and research funding.

Local Support Groups: Finding a local support group for Parkinson’s disease can be an essential support services, offering both practical advice and emotional support. Here are several strategies to help someone find local support groups:

  1. Contact National Organizations: Start with national Parkinson’s disease organizations such as the Parkinson’s Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, or the American Parkinson Disease Association. These organizations often have directories or can direct you to local support groups and resources.
  2. Use Online Resources: Websites and online platforms can be valuable resources. For instance, the Parkinson’s Foundation has a searchable map of local resources, including support groups. Similarly, the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s website offers tools to find support groups and educational events.
  3. Consult Healthcare Providers: Neurologists, movement disorder specialists, and healthcare teams experienced in treating Parkinson’s disease may have information about local support groups. They can recommend groups that their other patients have found helpful.
  4. Explore Local Community Centers: Community centers, hospitals, and clinics often host or know of local support group meetings. These can sometimes be found by visiting their websites or calling their offices directly.
  5. Check Social Media and Forums: Social media platforms and forums dedicated to Parkinson’s disease can provide leads on local support groups. Facebook groups, Reddit communities, and platforms like PatientsLikeMe can connect you with others who might know of local resources.
  6. Use Library and Bulletin Boards: Local libraries and community bulletin boards can occasionally have information about support group meetings. It’s worth checking these places, as community events are often advertised in such locations.
  7. Contact Local Universities and Medical Schools: Some universities and medical schools with neurology departments may conduct support groups or can direct you to local resources.
  8. Network with Others: If you know other individuals with Parkinson’s disease, ask them about the support groups they attend. Personal recommendations can be incredibly helpful.

Remember, while finding the right support group can take time, it’s worth the effort for the camaraderie and understanding these groups provide. If attending in-person meetings is challenging, consider looking for virtual support groups, which can also offer significant support and information.

Get Involved word cloud on a white background.

Get Involved

With over 60,000 Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, the importance of Parkinson’s Awareness Month has never been more evident. The month encourages participation in awareness activities, support for research funding, and advocacy for policy change to improve the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month plays a crucial role in spotlighting the challenges faced by those living with Parkinson’s disease and the ongoing efforts toward better treatments and a cure. By engaging in educational efforts, supporting research, and providing support, we can all contribute to a brighter future for individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Seize the opportunity to educate yourself and others about Parkinson’s disease, advocate for those affected, and support vital research and support initiatives. Your involvement can make a meaningful difference in the lives of nearly one million Americans living with Parkinson’s and pave the way for groundbreaking advances in treatment and care.

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Bipartisan Push to End Subminimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities in Georgia

Georgia is poised to become a notable example in the movement to end the subminimum wage for disabled workers, with a significant legislative effort led by Republicans, a departure from the commonly Democrat-led initiatives in this arena. The state’s recent legislative actions include the passage of a bill by the Georgia House aiming to abolish the practice that allows employers to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage, affecting some 40,000 individuals across the country. This bill, championed by GOP state Rep. Sharon Cooper alongside bipartisan support, highlights a shift in the political landscape concerning disability rights.

Historically, the allowance for subminimum wages for disabled workers dates back to 1938, with the establishment of the federal minimum wage law. This exception has been increasingly contested due to its exploitation of disabled workers, who in some cases earn as little as 22 cents an hour in sheltered workshops. These workshops have been criticized for their business model, which includes paying executives high salaries while exploiting disabled employees.

Georgia’s approach to phasing out the subminimum wage is particularly aggressive, aiming to eliminate 50 percent of the certificates that permit these wages within the first year of the law’s enactment, with a complete phase-out by the second year. This method contrasts with the more gradual three to five-year phase-out period seen in other states.

The initiative in Georgia also reflects a broader political shift. Disability rights, once a bipartisan cause as evidenced by the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law by a Republican president, have increasingly become associated with progressive policies and Democrat leadership. However, the bipartisan support for the Georgia bill, especially its leadership under a Republican, offers a potential model for re-engaging Republicans in disability rights at both the state and federal levels, according to advocates Julie Christensen and Dom Kelly. This initiative stands out against a backdrop of fractious state politics, particularly concerning other contentious issues like LGBTQ+ rights and voting rights.

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Advocacy Group Sues New York State Education Department Over Withheld Abuse Documents

Disability Rights New York, a prominent advocacy group for individuals with disabilities, has initiated legal action against the New York State Education Department. The lawsuit arises from the Education Department’s refusal to release documents critical for the group’s investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, and civil rights violations at a private residential school for students with autism. The advocacy group claims to have received multiple complaints alleging severe mistreatment of students, including physical abuse and being forced to endure inhumane living conditions, such as sleeping on urine-soaked mattresses. Some complaints also mention students displaying unexplained injuries and being denied essential medical care, alongside reports of staff being discouraged from seeking emergency services.

The investigation began after the group filed a Freedom of Information Law request in September, seeking documents from the Education Department. The department hesitated to provide complete information, leading to legal challenges by Disability Rights New York. The group’s initial legal petition was dismissed due to procedural issues, but it has since been refiled.

During a visit to the school, investigators observed concerning conditions, including pervasive odors of urine and restrictive physical barriers that seemed to limit student mobility and freedom excessively. Despite the alarming preliminary findings and previous complaints to the Education Department, the lawsuit contends that the department has not been cooperative in providing the necessary documents for a thorough investigation.

The Education Department has remained silent on the allegations and the ongoing litigation, while Disability Rights New York argues that its federal and state authority mandates access to facilities and documents necessary to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. The group’s broader mission is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not mistreated or kept hidden from public scrutiny. This lawsuit underscores the tension between the group’s advocacy efforts and the state’s regulatory frameworks, highlighting the challenges faced in safeguarding the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities in private educational settings.

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Minnesota Parents Helping People With Intellectual Disabilities Get College Degrees

In 2019, Mary Hauff and fellow parents founded the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium to advocate for students with intellectual disabilities, like her daughter Jean. Their efforts led to the allocation of $2 million, by the Minnesota Legislature in 2023, for inclusive higher education, ensuring equal access and meaningful credentials for these students.

Most of the funds will support colleges in enhancing enrollment opportunities, with $500,000 allocated to a technical assistance center at the University of Minnesota operated by the consortium. Despite nearly 200 colleges in Minnesota, only three are designated for specific programs benefiting students with intellectual disabilities, highlighting the need for broader support.

Intellectual disability, characterized by challenges in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, often manifests before the age of 18. Research indicates that students with intellectual disabilities who attend college are more likely to secure employment, earn higher wages, and live independently. The initiative in Minnesota aligns with national efforts, such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which aims to improve college access for students with intellectual disabilities.

Other states, like Kentucky, have also invested in similar programs, reflecting a growing trend nationwide. In Minnesota, the technical assistance center at the University of Minnesota serves as a hub for expertise and support, with input from an advisory committee that includes 50% student representation with intellectual disabilities.

Colleges and universities in Minnesota will soon have the opportunity to apply for grants to enhance accessibility, with funding available for developing or improving programs supporting students with intellectual disabilities. The Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium is actively assisting institutions in preparing for these grants and federal designations for financial aid, aiming to broaden educational opportunities and support for students with intellectual disabilities across the state…

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Veterans’ Disability Benefits for Burn Pit Injury Update

For a considerable time, veterans enduring respiratory issues due to exposure to hazardous air and burning waste during their military service have faced hurdles in obtaining disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA lacks a specific diagnostic code for constrictive bronchiolitis (CB), a condition associated with military deployments in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Djibouti post-9/11. Most medical conditions veterans experience are assessed using a four-digit code and percentage rating, determining the compensation reflecting their disability severity, crucial for compensating for lost working time due to their condition’s severity.

Due to the absence of a designated diagnostic code, most veterans with CB receive a zero disability rating and are ineligible for compensation. However, a forthcoming update to the system promises to introduce such a code, simplifying the process for veterans to receive benefits.

Joshua Jacobs, the Under Secretary for Benefits, assured that the VA is actively pursuing this update, considering it a top priority. Additionally, there are discussions about potentially adding a diagnostic code for constrictive bronchiolitis or a broader term encompassing related respiratory conditions.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health, elaborated on these options at a conference, indicating a potential decision between a specific code for CB or a broader term covering multiple respiratory conditions.

Anticipated revisions are expected to be published by September 30, 2024, marking the end of the fiscal year, according to insiders familiar with the discussions.

Though only a few hundred veterans have been diagnosed with CB, a fraction compared to more common respiratory ailments like COPD and asthma, diagnosing CB requires invasive lung biopsies, unlike traditional tests…

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