Social Security Finalizes Rule Expanding Access to SSI

Under a new rule, more people will soon qualify for Supplemental Security Income and some current beneficiaries will see their monthly payments increase, the Social Security Administration said.

The changes will come under a regulation finalized recently broadening what counts as a “public assistance household.”

The agency is expanding the definition to include households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, payments as well as households where not everyone receives public assistance.

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Classroom Converted Into Simulated Apartment To Boost Life Skills

NAZARETH, Pa. — A simulated apartment wasn’t something AJ Kise had heard of in other school districts, but it was a vision he had for Nazareth Area High School.

That vision has been realized, with the recent unveiling of the fully furnished space in what had been a run-of-the-mill classroom.

“Imagine a world where every student, regardless of their abilities, walks through the doors of opportunity — a world where barriers crumble, differences are celebrated and education empowers all to reach their full potential,” Kise, the Nazareth Area schools’ director of special education, said during a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Today we stand at the threshold of making that dream a reality.”

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Children’s Books Recognized For Stories About Disabilities

Several new children’s books are claiming honors alongside the famed Newbery and Caldecott Medals for featuring storylines focused on the experiences of those with disabilities.

The American Library Association named three winners and six honorees of its Schneider Family Book Awards this month.

The annual awards recognize an “author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences” and are handed out in three categories targeting various age groups — kids up to age 8, those ages 9 to 12 and teens.

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Feds Move To Enforce Accessibility Standards For Medical Equipment

Doctor’s offices often lack examination tables, weight scales and other diagnostic equipment that are accessible to people with disabilities. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to change that.

The agency is proposing a rule under the Americans with Disabilities Act that would adopt technical standards spelling out the responsibilities that hospitals and health care clinics operated by state or local governments have under the law.

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IRS Raises ABLE Account Limit

With the new year, individuals with disabilities will be allowed to put aside more money than ever before in a special type of account that permits them to save without jeopardizing their government benefits.

The Internal Revenue Service said that the federal gift tax exclusion increased to $18,000 effective at the start of this month. The annual deposit limit for ABLE accounts is tied to that measure, so it will rise as well.

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‘Barbie’ Movie Adds Unique Accessibility Option

When the blockbuster “Barbie” movie becomes available for streaming soon, it will offer a new level of accessibility for people with disabilities.

The film will debut on Max next week complete with a special option to view it accompanied by American Sign Language interpretation.

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Congress Urged To Update SSI Access Limits

An independent federal agency says that the government’s failure to update asset limits associated with Supplemental Security Income and other programs is leaving people with disabilities in a tough spot.

For decades, asset limits for government benefit programs have gone unchanged even as the cost of living has risen. As a result, individuals with disabilities are often hampered in their efforts to become more independent, according to a new report from the National Council on Disability, which is charged with advising the president and Congress on disability issues.

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Feds Earmark $212 Million To Improve Disability Housing

Federal officials are putting up millions of dollars to expand the supply of housing available to people with disabilities and to help them afford rent.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said this month that it is making $212 million available through the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program.

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Labor Department Weighs Future Of Subminimum Wage For Workers With Disabilities

With big changes under consideration, federal officials want to hear from workers with disabilities about their experiences with a program that allows employers to pay them less than minimum wage.

The U.S. Department of Labor is launching a “series of stakeholder engagement sessions” as it embarks on a “comprehensive review” of what’s known as the Section 14(c) program.

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Lawmakers Call For Incentives To Broaden Access To ABLE Accounts

A new proposal would offer up matching funds to encourage more people with disabilities to open special accounts that allow them to save money without jeopardizing eligibility for government benefits.

The federal government would offer a dollar-for-dollar match for new and existing ABLE accounts for people earning $28,000 or less each year under a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. A similar measure has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.

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