Monday, October 27, 2008

Speedy SSA Claims for Severe Conditions

Washington DC, USA-- People with certain cancers and other severe conditions will have their disability claims fat-tracked under a new Social Security program, which may result in disability decisions in a matter of days, not months. Michael J. Astrue, head of the Social Security Administration says new Compassionate Allowances initiative will apply to 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers. Disorders and diseases include inoperable forms of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder, kidney, and bone cancers, acute leukemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Gaucher diseases, and Rett Syndrome. The new process uses rapid action computer scanning for key terms, resulting in 95% claim acceptance. The president of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), Peter Saltonstall, says the new allowances are "an outstanding achievement" for people with certain rare diseases.

Social Security speeds disability claims review

New Compassionate Allowances for Social Security Disability Represent 'Outstanding Achievement,' NORD Says


National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Social Security’s List of Compassionate Allowances:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Thank you to the NRCA Office ListServ for forwarding this press release.

Contact: Kawika Riley (Veterans’ Affairs)October 10, 2008(202) 224-9126


Akaka’s legislation was inspired by first-hand accounts from veterans and their families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today regarding enactment of S. 2162, the Veterans Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008. S. 2162, introduced by Senator Akaka and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators, makes various improvements to veterans’ mental health and other forms of care. The bill pays tribute to Justin Bailey, an Iraq war veteran who returned from combat only to lose his life to PTSD and an accidental overdose of prescription medications.

“Now that S. 2162 has been enacted, VA can incorporate these provisions to improve its strategy against the injury and enemy of PTSD and other invisible wounds,” said Akaka.

In his floor statement urging passage of S. 2162, Akaka detailed the origins of his legislation: “The legislation did not stem from a lobbyist or an interest group. It came about because of one letter – a letter to me from the parents of Justin Bailey – Mary Kaye and Tony Bailey.

“Justin Bailey was a war veteran who survived Iraq only to die while receiving care from VA for PTSD and substance use disorder. A week after his death last year, Justin’s parents were naturally heartbroken by the death of their only son, but even more than that, they were concerned that other veterans might share his fate if VA mental health care did not improve,” said Akaka. The Bailey family has worked actively to improve veterans’ mental health, testifying before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and supporting S. 2162.

S. 2162’s improvements to veterans’ mental health care include:
  • Setting a standard minimum level of care for substance use disorder, and creating innovative enhancements to treatment
  • Improving treatment to veterans with multiple disorders, such as PTSD and substance use disorder
  • Mandating a review of VA’s residential mental health care facilities, to ensure that they are adequately staffed
  • Creating a research program on PTSD and substance use disorder, in cooperation with the National Center for PTSD
  • Enabling VA to provide mental health services to veterans’ families, and setting up a program to aid the families of returning servicemembers
S. 2162 also makes significant improvements in other areas of veterans’ health care:
  • Rural Veterans: More than doubles the beneficiary travel mileage reimbursement (from 11 to 28.5 cents per mile) eligible veterans can receive for travel to receive VA care, permanently sets the deductible to $3 each way for such travel, creates a pilot program on the use of peers to enhance outreach to rural veterans, and encourages coordination between VA and rural community-based resources.
  • Emergency Care for Veterans: Corrects current procedures used by VA to reimburse community hospitals for emergency care provided to eligible veterans.
  • VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence: In recognition of the link between traumatic brain injury, a signature wound of the current conflicts, and epilepsy, establishes up to six VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence focused on research, education, and clinical care for epilepsy.
  • Veterans’ Pain Care: Requires a pain care program, including care for acute pain, for all VA inpatient facilities for long-term mental health and substance abuse care and to prevent long-term chronic pain disability, expands VA health care staff education on pain assessment and treatment, and increases VA research on pain care.
  • Veterans’ Caregivers: Extends authority for VA to provide institutional and non-institutional long-term care and caregiver assistance services.
  • Medical Construction: Authorizes a series of major medical facility construction projects and outpatient clinic leases.
  • Homelessness: Creates targeted programs to assist low-income veterans, and increases funding capacity for the successful VA Grant and Per Diem program, which assists community-based organizations that serve homeless veterans.
  • Rehabilitating Veterans: Expands a program to help formerly incarcerated veterans reintegrate into society through employment counseling and other services.
S. 2162, introduced by Chairman Akaka, was reported by the Senate Committee, then passed the full Senate unanimously before being amended and passed in the House, then passed again in the Senate. President Bush signed the bill into law on October 10, 2008.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Employing People with Disabilities: 5 Recommendations

USA-- DiversityInc, a leading publication on diversity and business, has publishes its annual list of top employers for people with disabilities. DiversityInc began in 1998 as a web-based publication with a print magazine added in 2002. has a large career center online. The organization makes the following five recommendations for employers to increase disability diversity in the workplace:

  1. Make Inclusion part of the company's culture
  2. Think globally in hiring, design, and accessibility
  3. Provide support groups
  4. Celebrate people with disabilities
  5. Make the workplace accessible

About 49.7 million Americans have a disability and roughly 30.6 million are of working age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.



The 2008 DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities

The 2008 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The theme of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2008 is "America's People... America's Talent... America's Strength!"

This year's theme is designed to convey the signfiicant contributions Americans with disabilities can make and do make in the workplace and the economy. Neil Romano, assistant secretary for the Labor Department´s Office of Disability Employment Policy, says. "People with disabilities are the next great wave of diversity, and diversity fosters innovation to drive our economy and our nation into the future."

NDEAM began in 1945, when Congress deemed the first week in October each year as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month, declaring October "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

White House Press Release:

Department of Veteran's Affairs:

Work World: