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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

Gov. Nixon signs Missouri ABLE bill into law

It has been nearly a month since we discussed the Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience Program, or ABLE. As we discussed back on June 2, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill to establish ABLE, a program through which disabled people can put up to $14,000 into a special account and thus qualify for disability benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income.

Most need-based government programs limit the amount of income the applicant’s household brings in. But in many cases, this limit is quite low; many people struggle with incomes above the maximum that nevertheless may be quite close to poverty.

How Asperger syndrome fits into the autism spectrum

People who have heard of Asperger syndrome may not realize that it is a form of autism. Parents of a child living with Asperger may struggle to afford the therapy and services, but Supplemental Security Income may help pay those important bills.

According to Autism Speaks, Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Because people with Asprger generally do not have significant delays in cognitive development or language, Asperger is considered to be on the high functioning end of the spectrum. In fact, children with Asperger often show average to advanced language development.

Report finds that SSA overpaid $17B in disability benefits

A deeply critical new report says that the Social Security Administration overpaid disability benefits by nearly $17 billion over the past decade. The findings led one U.S. senator to say that the errors deprived those who rightfully deserved the payments.

However, the SSA says it has a nearly perfect record for avoiding overpayment or underpayment of Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The agency says that in fiscal year 2013, 99.8 percent of Social Security payments had no overpayment.

Disabled may soon be able to set aside $14K, qualify for benefits

Many public benefits out there to help disabled individuals and their families are need-based. In other words, the disabled person’s household income must be below a certain amount for him or her to qualify. Supplemental Security Income is an example of a need-based disability program.

Many families of modest income, who could use these benefits to make ends meet, nevertheless exceed the maximum income. To help close this gap, Missouri State Sen. Eric Schmitt introduced a bill in the Legislature that would allow people in this position to set aside some of their income, tax-free, in order to qualify for SSI and similar benefits.

Disabled people are twice as likely to be victimized by violence

Though many disabled people are able to overcome their physical or mental challenges, they may remain vulnerable to criminals. Violent crime in particular is a big problem for disabled Americans, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that in 2013, people with disabilities in the U.S. were more than twice as likely to be victimized by violent crime, compared with the general population. In total, there were 1.3 million nonfatal violent crimes committed against disabled people that year, according to Disability Scoop.

Epilepsy can disrupt your life, career

While around one in 26 Americans will develop a form of epilepsy during their lives, this disorder remains poorly understood by much of the public. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is treatable most of the time, but is a chronic problem for some people.

The Mayo Clinic’s website explains that seizures occur when nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted. If a person experiences more than one unprovoked seizure, he or she may become diagnosed with epilepsy. A seizure can range from a brief blank stare to uncontrolled jerking of the limbs and loss of consciousness.

Study pinpoints 1 genetic source for many schizophrenia symptoms

For years, doctors have known that there is a genetic component to schizophrenia. Research has identified hundreds of genetic variants that may increase the risk of developing this form of mental illness, but no definitive triggers have been found.

Now, a new study suggests that a single gene variant may be linked to several symptoms of schizophrenia, not just the hallucinations and delusions that the general public is familiar with. Other common symptoms include agitation and memory problems.

Reflections on the ADA's 25th year

This year marks 25 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act became federal law. The law requires schools, employers and other entities that people with disabilities encounter to provide reasonable accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps. Many consider the ADA to be one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress.

They credit the law with removing barriers that prevented otherwise capable people from going to school, living independently, and possibly pursuing a career. Beyond that, it changed how society views disabled people, and how those with disabilities identified themselves and others within the disabled community, according to a speaker at a recent panel discussion on the ADA.

Disney updates its ride scheduling for disabled patrons

Fans of Disney’s theme parks likely know that in 2013, the company changed its policy toward disabled visitors. Until then, patrons with disabilities were often allowed to move to the front of the line at various rides, using a Guest Assistance Card.

Then, starting in 2013, Disney announced that it would no longer offer this accommodation. Instead, disabled visitors and the people they are travelling with would make an appointment at the ride to return later on.

High school graduation rate for disabled students rising

While they once may have been institutionalized or put in special education, young people in Missouri with disabilities increasingly go through mainstream education. Though their graduation rates lag behind able-bodied students, the graduation rate of disabled students is climbing upward in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics recently announced that nearly 62 percent of high school seniors with disabilities graduated during the 2012-13 school year. That was 3 percent higher than two years prior, though it was well behind the country’s overall high school graduation rate of 81 percent in 2012-13, a record high.

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