As every one of the millions of Americans living with a disability knows, it can often be difficult to really make your voice heard. However, one area where you should always have a say is your healthcare. Healthcare costs tend to rise with age, so you can stay in control of your care and your finances by planning ahead for future healthcare expenses. Here are some steps everyone should take when planning their financial and healthcare futures.
Make Sure You’re Covered by Medicare
Part of planning for your healthcare future should include making a solid plan for retirement. Medicare may be your best option to pay for healthcare services, so make sure you know how Medicare will benefit you now and in the future. If you have questions about the kind of Medicare coverage you can obtain in your state, be sure to check out this state-by-state guide from Medicare Advantage. You can click on your individual state for easy access to websites and contact information for state-level organizations that can give you the information you are looking for and maybe even help you out when it comes time to apply for your benefits.
Talk to Your Loved Ones About Your Care
If you are living with a disability, you may have gotten pretty good at taking care of things on your own. For most aging Americans, there will come a time in their life when they need to depend on others for their care. With this in mind, it’s important to know how to ask for help. You can write out your needs ahead of time so that you can match it to the best candidates in your support network. Be upfront about these needs with your loved ones, and be specific. If you think you will need someone to make medical decisions for you, be sure to take the necessary legal steps to give them this authority ahead of time.
Know Your Options for Paying for Care
Most adults will need some form of long-term health care, but most people fail to properly prepare their finances for the costs of long-term care. If you are not working and have not done so, you may want to look into Social Security benefits that can help you make ends meet when it comes to healthcare costs and other expenses. Options can include looking into VA and other federal benefits, using your savings, or even purchasing long-term care insurance. The latter option is best if you can begin your policy when you are younger; all the more reason to plan ahead.
Figuring out how to fit your healthcare needs into your financial future is an important step in making sure you will always have access to the care you need. Take some time to really think about what your healthcare future may look like, ask for help when you need it, and give yourself peace of mind when it comes to preparing for the years ahead.
By Ed Carter, Able Futures
For more articles by Ed, visit his website at ablefutures.org
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Finding a job in today’s economy can be difficult, but it’s even tougher to manage if you have a disability. However, there is no reason to let your disability hold you back from landing the job of your dreams. Here are some methods to find opportunities and shine in interviews as you search through the job market.
How to find jobs
One of the biggest challenges you may experience is finding a position that will work around your disability. Before applying for a position, it’s always a good idea to research the company’s history of hiring people with disabilities. There are also several websites, such as Ability Jobs and Getting Hired, that are geared specifically toward job seekers with disabilities.
Preparing for interviews
Whether this is your first interview or your 50th, the key to all interviews is to project confidence. No matter how uncertain or insecure you are about your disability, the interviewer will look past your physical capabilities if you present yourself as capable and confident. The best way to be confident is to be come prepared. That way, you can ask educated questions that show interest and initiative.
You may be wondering whether or not you should disclose your disability in the interview; it’s really up to your discretion. If your disability would make it more difficult to complete some of the position’s basic tasks without special accommodation, then you should probably disclose it to the employer. However, unless your disability affects your ability to sit for an interview, it is generally best to leave it off of your resume. Instead, use your resume to demonstrate your capabilities and strengths.
Another thing to consider is the company’s history of employing people with disabilities. Are they accommodating? Carefully weigh the options before bringing it up in the interview. If you do decide to talk about your disability, it is important that you frame it in terms of possible solutions, rather than as a problem you expect the interviewer to solve. This will further demonstrate your strengths and show that you are much more than your disability. Be prepared to answer potentially difficult questions, keeping in mind that the interviewer may not fully grasp how your disability will affect your capacity to fulfill the job’s requirements. Answer as you would any other interview question - politely and calmly, explaining your answer without oversharing.
Become an entrepreneur
You can also bypass the job search and interview process entirely by starting a business yourself. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find gigs that fit your interests. You can choose from dozens of different service platform sites to get your business up and running. For example, if you enjoy spending time with dogs and would like to turn that into a full-time dog sitting or walking career, you can use Rover’s turnkey platform to locate clients, set rates and schedules and get paid for your services.
If you enjoy cleaning or other handyman-style services, sites such as TaskRabbit are a great way to connect with clients. Finally, people who love driving might as well get paid for the miles they spend on the road through services like Lyft.
There is no reason to let your disability get in the way of becoming successful in your chosen field. Whether you choose to go your own way as an entrepreneur or ace your next job interview, you can maximize your odds of success with proper preparation and confidence.
By Jenny Wise. For more articles by Jenny, check out her blog at http://specialhomeeducator.com/welcome-to-my-blog/
Photo Credit: pixabay.com
Campers and staff from around the world came together at Courage North of True Friends in Bemidji, MN in the summer of 2018 to talk about what it means to be a true friend. This awesome video was created as result of a partnership with Courage North and Mad Hatter Wellness. In the video, you can see how campers explored what it means to be and to have a true friend. It was an amazing time to talk about and practice healthy relationships!
We have so many different relationships in our lives! Sometimes our relationships can be challenging and even unhealthy. Things can get tricky when we are unsure if it’s a true friend or just a classmate or co-worker. Have you ever heard an elementary school teacher call everyone in the class “friends”? “Okay friends, it’s time to line up for lunch”. That can be confusing as not everyone in the class is a true friend. We can have healthy relationships with classmates and co-workers, but don’t have to actually be friends. This confusion can lead to problems around the types of touch or kind of conversation to have with these different people. The conversations we have with true friends are very different conversations than with co-workers.
Mad Hatter Wellness provides resources and education to support individuals to navigate the relationships in their lives, to set boundaries and honor the boundaries of others.
Find out more about our work to support you in exploring healthy relationships by visiting our website: www.sexualityforallabilities.com or contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find resources to support self-advocates, support professionals and parents & caregivers.
Carolyn Novak and Dianne Blaydes are Specialists for Hennepin County Public Health ad will be speaking about the online training program the county offers caregivers and staff.
Are you a group home administrator or a caregiver looking for more information on nutrition and cooking skills? We have just the thing for you! Hennepin County dietitians have developed a FREE, online training that satisfies the staff nutrition training mandate of MN 245D.09 Subdivision 4b(2), which all staff are required to complete. This program helps group home agencies save training dollars and staff time – staff don’t even have to leave the group home as long as they have internet access. The program can also be used by caregivers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to learn more about healthy eating, gain cooking skills and have access to easy recipes. Join us at the conference to learn more. Hope to see you there!
Joseph Kukla esq. has over 10 years of experience as an attorney focusing on serving clients with disabilities.
Being able to experience financial independence provides a sense of accomplishment and self-worth to all adults, but it is significantly more difficult to achieve within the confines of an asset limit. Many people feel like they are being discouraged from earning or saving money in order to retain their public assistance benefits.
My presentation will focus on methods for preserving income and resources when asset limits are necessary to maintain, and options for greater financial control and personal responsibility for individuals who are receiving public assistance.
Register for the conference to hear more from our awesome presenters!
Cassie Weness, R.D., L.D.
Are your achy knees the reason you can’t sign up for the fall basketball league or neighborhood 5K? Or do you wake up each morning so achy it’s hard to just get out of bed? Or perhaps you’re one of millions living with arthritis or battling chronic sinus infections?
All these health conditions have something in common, inflammation (a fancy word for pain.) So what is causing all of this inflammation? As a registered dietitian, I’ve studied this and worked with many individuals to break this cycle of pain and inflammation naturally, without relying on pain medications.
Let’s start with the end in mind; how great would it feel to return to your favorite pastimes with little to no discomfort? Play tennis again, get on the floor with your grandkids or go hiking all without the agony that is typically created by inflammation!
How? The equation is simple, reduce or eliminate the foods and beverages that fuel the inflammation fire. Here are some examples of items to cut out:
As a dietitian, I have seen people’s lives change dramatically when they eliminate these items and switch to eating real food in balance. This means meals (three a day) and snacks (two to three a day) that contain no man-made or processed foods. No skipping meals!
Eat This, Not That
For lunch, eat this, salad with greens, tomatoes, carrots, onions, walnuts, chicken and olive oil / balsamic vinegar dressing. Skip this, sub sandwich with chips and soda.
For an afternoon snack, eat this, two or three deviled egg halves, with handful of grapes. Skip this, cookie or donut as afternoon snack.
Don’t be overwhelmed; making dietary changes doesn’t need to be scary. Most people with pain and inflammation just need help getting started on an eating plan that is right for their body’s needs. Stop by my session at the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health and Wellness Conference to hear practical ways to that can help you break this pain cycle and get on the road to your healthiest self!
Hear more about nutrition from Cassie at the Health and Wellness Conference!
What: Eating to Reduce Pain and Inflammation
When: September, 25th, 2018 at 11:30 AM
My name is Jack Malone, and I am thrilled to join MNCCD as its next project coordinator! I will be working at the Consortium part-time while I pursue a Master of Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Before enrolling at Humphrey, I worked with developmentally disabled adults for two years at Opportunity Partners and Phoenix Alternatives, Inc. As an Employment Specialist, it was my responsibility to find job opportunities for disabled individuals out in the community. More than anything, this job required persistence. As you could probably guess, it was almost always an uphill battle to convince hiring managers that my clients deserved a chance to prove themselves. While I’m proud to say that I helped a good number of disabled individuals secure independent employment, there were so many more that could have succeeded if given the chance. That’s why I’m grateful to continue my work at MNCCD; this organization recognizes that disabled individuals deserve the same opportunities and choices as anyone else, especially in regards to employment, housing, and leisure activity.
I have spent the last week learning all that I can about MNCCD, and I can’t wait to get started! I look forward to meeting with all of our partner agencies to coordinate the best strategies for disability rights reform. Together, we will make the changes necessary for disabled Minnesotans to live more independent and fulfilling lives.
My name is Sammie Farmer and I started at MNCCD in July as the 2018 Conference Coordinating Intern this summer. I am starting graduate school at the Humphrey Public Policy school this fall.
I have recently finished a year as an AmeriCorps Vista where I helped plan a conference for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. It was a great experience for me to see an event from start to finish. It was an awesome event to share information with our partner food pantries. I think this conference will be an even better way to connect with our community and truly help people improve their health and wellbeing! Be sure to register for the conference! https://www.mnccd.org/registration.html
"Noah cannot let this go. I can't tell if it's part of his diagnosis or if he just enjoys stirring the pot or a little bit of both" - Carver County Sheriff Olson
These words are taken from an email sent by Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson to Carver County Administrator Dave Hemze. It was typed in inconspicuous black font, covering one sides of a white piece of paper and It is one of thousands of letters, emails and memos I received in the mail today, to say nothing of the 2 am visits from cops and the threats to lynch me that were hung up all around the City Square Park— after I refused to, as Sheriff Olson so aptly put it, " let it go," and proceeded to publish my thoughts on how Carver County treats people with disabilities. I think in the beginning I did it more out of a desire to advocate than out of anger, as conversations are important, especially about a topic that resides at the heart of who we want to be as a community.
The entire thing is fairly frustrating because people come at disability issues from a variety of different perspectives, and people are at different stages of understanding of the cause-and-effect of issues facing minority groups in modern day America. There are a hundred different sentiments that can (and should) be analyzed in these conversations, but one keeps coming up that always gives me pause:
"Institutionalization ended a long time ago — isn’t it time for disabled people to get over it? At this point, they’re just using it as an excuse for their behavior. We all have equal rights now. They need to stop playing the victim and take responsibility. That’s not bigotry, that’s reality."
I hear it all the time and I could go into a 3 hour lecture on the history of the disability community or offer all sorts of arguments from philosophical legal and socio-economic perspectives, but I feel as though this is best illustrated with a simple story:
Once upon a time, there was a handful of blue houses in a neighborhood of yellow ones. Each day, the yellow house owners would dump all of their trash into the yards of the blue houses. Their owners hated it, of course, but if they complained, the yellow house owners would beat them senseless. If they went to the authorities, they’d beat them senseless too.
Day after day, so much garbage filled the blue house yards that it was impossible to clear it all. So the blue house people did their best to live their lives around it.
After years and years of this, the blue house folks said enough was enough. They banded together and blocked the road so nobody could get home. The yellow house owners tried to beat them up like they always had, but the blue house owners refused to move until the trash dumpers would listen.
The blue house people explained the obvious fact that it was unfair to dump garbage in their yards and vowed to continue to block the road until it stopped. It took a while, but finally, the yellow house people conceded.
But the blue house owners’ woes weren’t over. Their lawns were dead from years without sunlight. Their shrubs were withered from the toxic sludge that seeped in year after year. Some of the poison even penetrated the foundations of the houses, causing structural issues. The blue house people tried many things to remedy all of this, but there was so much damage, it proved difficult. Meanwhile, the yellow house owners’ yards thrived as they always had. And soon, they started complaining about how the blue houses looked.
“What’s the matter?” they asked the blue house owners. “We don’t put garbage in your yard anymore. Why aren’t you fixing up your yard?” The blue house people explained that they’re trying, but were running into some problems. Their tools were rusty from years in storage. They needed new plants, some good soil to restart their grass, and maybe some fertilizer.
Since the yellow house owners had caused the problem, they thought “hmm, maybe the yellow house owners will help us since they originally caused all this damage.”
“You’re just looking for a handout,” said the yellow house people. “You just need to work harder and be responsible. Look at your yard! What a mess! We don’t dump our garbage on you anymore. We’re equal now. There’s nothing wrong with your soil or your tools — you just don’t want to work at it like we do. I bust my butt to get my lawn looking this way. It’s your own fault that yours isn’t thriving and your house needs work.”
See the problem? This is what it sounds like when "normal” people refuse to acknowledge the generational, societal effects of America’s history of prejudice against the disabled. This is what it sounds like when people place the blame for all the issues they've caused and failed to address on the disability community. It is patently unfair to deny that so many challenges my community faces are the direct result of centuries of dehumanization and degradation. It is blatant arrogance for normal people to expect people with disabilities to take responsibility for disparities in our economic and justice systems over which we've had no control (AND STILL DON'T HAVE ANY CONTROL) when it's their fault the disparities exist in the first place.
You cannot exclude people away from society for 200 years, systematically and legally oppress them for another century, and think that everything is hunky-dory a mere 28 years later. I know all these behavioral determinist folks who want to point their finger in a disabled guys face and “move on,” to leave that ugly history in the past, to start with a clean slate. But there’s no such thing.
We can’t just wish away the far-reaching effects of blatant discrimination We can’t pretend that a mere two decades after the American with disabilities signed, which contrary to popular belief had opposition (and still does) that we've successfully weeded out the deep-seated prejudice that historically has and continues to fuel centuries of mistreatment for individuals with disabilities both inside and outside of institutional settings.
This isn’t about “white liberal guilt” or "revenge." Even though the very least — and I mean the very least — those who define themselves as "Normal" could do is acknowledge that our ancestors gave birth to this current mess, even if we had nothing to do with it directly. Of course we haven’t personally had somebody locked up in an asylum, but if we deny the ongoing effects of Minnesota's legacy of Ableism and refuse to own our role in helping remedy the problems it’s caused, then we are no better than that yellow house owner chastising his neighbor for the state of his yard — dishonest, unjust…and yes, prejudiced.
“I’ve never seen a session this badly mismanaged. I’ve never seen a session less transparent. I’ve never seen a session more beholden to special interests,” –Governor Mark Dayton on the recent legislative session.
“A plague a' both your houses!” –Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet
Amen. The Governor and the Republican legislative leadership can point fingers all they want, but I say it cuts both ways. Republicans lard up bills with provisions they know the Governor will veto, and the Governor waits until the last minute to promote “emergency” funding for schools. Why does it always end up this way, a game of last minute chicken? Well, it wasn’t always this way. I remember when people used to work together to get thinks done for the greater good, but in recent years with more partisan wrangling, those days are gone.
Assuming the Governor follows through with his threat to veto the Omnibus bill, or parts of it, the list of things that didn’t get done is long: elder abuse prevention, tax conformity, distracted driving enhanced penalties, and no action on sensible gun safety laws which most support, to name a few.
It gets worse. Legislative leaders dumped a document with over 900 pages before the legislature two hours before adjournment with no time to review the provisions, nor offer amendments. This kind of stunt directly violates the single subject provision of the Minnesota Constitution:
Article IV, Section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution states: “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”
So what is the remedy? Is it too much to ask that the Governor and the legislative leadership sit down before the session and outline their priorities? That they try to find common ground? That they agree to adhere to the Constitutional requirement that bills embrace only a single subject, and let the bill pass or fail on its merit? That they develop a legislative agenda schedule, allow time for hearings and floor votes, and stick to it? That they actually COMPROMISE?
This fall candidates will be asking for your vote. Ask them if they will adhere to the principle of putting all cards on the table and working across the isle to get things done for Minnesotans. Ask them if they will adhere to the requirement of the Constitution to stick to the single subject rule. If they can’t or won’t pledge to do this, then for the sake of good government, throw the bums out.
Randall Bachman is a retired health and human services administrator, a former school board member, and an advocate for persons with disabilities. He lives in Afton.
Although employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodation to workers with disabilities, in reality, getting the accommodations you need is less than straightforward. Obtaining reasonable accommodation is frequently a back-and-forth process between the employee and employer that costs the employee time, energy, and money. So it’s not surprising that so many people with disabilities are drawn to self-employment. When you run a business of your own, you can work in the time, place, and manner that’s best for you. And while business ownership comes with many challenges of its own, that flexibility offers enormous relief to people with disabilities.
The rise of home-based businesses has made self-employment especially appealing to people with disabilities. With a home computer and a high-speed internet connection, you can run a wide range of businesses. A new business owner might turn a longtime career into a freelance venture, start a blog, or begin their own e-commerce business. Even if you don’t have a ton of skills to draw on, consider starting a business drop-shipping popular consumer goods. Topping Oberlo’s list of business ideas that make money are: phone cases, backpacks and drawstring bags, and personal grooming tools.
No matter what type of business you choose, you need to know the basics of small business ownership. Most businesses have to register with their state. You may need a sales tax permit and other licenses, depending on the type of business. If your business exposes you to liability, incorporating and purchasing insurance is a smart business decision. Forming an LLC is a simple, affordable process that protects your personal assets from business dealings. You can learn more about registering a business and various business structures at the Small Business Administration.
After your business is registered, it’s time to create business bank accounts. A small business checking account keeps personal and business transactions separate. Building a relationship with a banking institution also gives you access to credit for financing business expenses.
Health insurance is a common concern for people with disabilities who are taking the plunge into small business ownership. While insurers through the Health Insurance Marketplace can’t deny coverage or charge more for people with disabilities, available plans can be costly while offering insufficient health coverage. However, you don’t have to remain unemployed or stay in a job you’re unhappy with just to retain health coverage. In Minnesota, you can obtain coverage under the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program. The Minnesota Department of Human Resources has more information about MA-EPD.
When you’re living with a disability, self-employment represents more than a paycheck. It represents freedom from rigid office environments and unsupportive bosses, the ability to create your own accommodations, and the opportunity to pursue a passion. If the idea of starting your own business has crossed your mind, it might be time to take a closer look at self-employment.
Patrick Young, Founder of ableusa.info
Image via Unsplash
While public policies are aimed at creating a framework for our lives that offer protection and support, many that are currently in place produce effects that are unjust. When negative social impacts caused by policies are discovered, it is the people’s duty to collaborate to revise these laws. In a democracy, the policies in place should reflect the values of the people. Through strategic support efforts, individuals can work together to greatly impact policy that benefits its citizens. Advocacy is much more than just proclaiming one’s belief for something. Advocacy is the physical support that contributes to a change.
What does it mean to be an advocate? A self-advocate of the disability community encompasses the meaning fully, stating advocacy is “knowing your rights and responsibilities. Self-advocate means standing up for your own rights. Self-advocate means speak for yourself and make your own decisions, being more independent, standing on your own two feet and sticking up for your rights" (Anderson 2017). Advocacy is multifaceted, and elicits results through continuous and thoughtful actions. By further interpreting this meaning, an individual can understand the fundamentals of being an advocate and begin to make a change in policy.
1. Knowing your rights and responsibilities.
To begin the path to advocacy, one must be knowledgeable of the legislative system and the meaning of the laws in place to protect an individual’s rights. Through this understanding, an individual is able to navigate the political system and make effective efforts in supporting revision for better policy.
2. Speak for yourself.
The values of a community cannot be known if the citizens of the community do not contribute to the conversation. While elected officials are appointed to represent and promote policy that is beneficial to society, it is the duty of the citizens to create a voice that guides policy makers to create effective laws.
3. Stand on your own two feet and stick up for your rights.
To instigate change against policies that are inconsistent with a community's values, participation from the individuals of that community is essential. Standing on your own two feet and sticking up for your rights reflects individuals of the community voicing their opinion and not conceding to unethical policies.
As stated above, the fundamentals of being an advocate involve: understanding your rights, staying informed, and participating in strategic movements that contribute to revising policy. Advocacy empowers a community and allows for the voice and values of that community to be heard, and therefore, utilized in the installation and revision of laws. Being an advocate means influencing the laws that influence you.
By Haley Hajjali / U of M
1. Anderson, Sian, and Christine Bigby. “Self Advocacy as a Means to Positive Identities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities .” Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities , vol. 30, 2017.