HANDICAPPED; STATE AID;
November 12, 2003
PARAPLEGICS AND STATE PROGRAMS
By: Helga Niesz, Principal Analyst
You asked (1) whether there is a way for your constituent, who is a paraplegic in his mid-50s, to get help paying for an auxiliary generator needed to operate an electric lift, which he uses to get out of bed, during power failures and (2) generally what state programs are available for paraplegics that your constituent might qualify for.
No state programs provide grants for an auxiliary generator, however, your constituent could consult with the nearest Independent Living Center to see if there may be some loan opportunities or non-government resources that could help him.
Below we list some of the more prominent programs that may be of interest and ways to contact them. Some of these programs provide financial help, counseling, personal care assistance, or assistance in applying for benefits, or help in re-entering the workforce. There are financial requirements or level of disability requirements to qualify for some of these programs.
We are not aware of any state programs that would provide a grant for an auxiliary generator for this situation. However, your constituent may want to contact the nearest Independent Living Center ((203) 934-7077 in West Haven), where the staff could provide him with information on this specific problem and serve as a resource for other information. The center participates with a local bank to provide low-cost loans to disabled people for assistive technology or needed home modifications, which might be an option for your constituent. They could also advise him whether there are any non-government sources that could be of help.
PROGRAMS THAT ASSIST PEOPLE WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES
Non-elderly people who are disabled may be eligible for federal Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) depending on whether their disability meets the program’s criteria and possibly, if they have very low income and assets, federal Supplementary Security Income (SSI) or the State Supplement Program. Depending on their income, they might also be eligible for the federal Food Stamp program, or certain state rental assistance or energy assistance programs. There is a federal website, called Govbenefits, that lets people search for government programs they may be eligible for at http: //www. govbenefits. gov/index. jsp. Another website sponsored by the National Coalition on Aging, is aimed at people age 55 or over and lets them enter their personal information anonymously and find out what programs they are likely to qualify for at http: //www. benefitscheckup. org/.
The “circuit breaker” program (formally known as the Elderly and Totally Disabled Tax Relief Program) gives seniors over age 65 and younger totally disabled people a property tax reduction or a rent rebate, depending on whether they are homeowners or renters, and if they meet certain income and other requirements. The maximum tax relief or rebate varies depending on income level, marital status, and other factors. To apply, people should go to their town tax assessor’s office. More details are available on the Office of Policy and Management’s website at: http: //www. opm. state. ct. us/igp/grants/CIRCUITB. HTM for homeowners and http: /www. opm. state. ct. us/igp/grants/RENTERS. HTM for renters.
Medicare And Medicaid Health Coverage
Disabled people may qualify for federal Medicare coverage and may be able to buy some Medicare supplement policies to cover what Medicare does not pay. And, if they have very low incomes, they may qualify for the state’s Medicaid program (which is jointly funded by the state and the federal government).
Disabled people who need a personal care assistant to help them with activities of daily living such as transferring from a be to a chair, dressing, eating, toileting, etc, may be eligible for help under the Medicaid Personal Care Assistance Waiver or, if applicable the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver, or several other programs. Interested parties can contact their local Department of Social Services (DSS) office. Your constituent could also contact Sylvia Gaffert-Alexander ((860) 424-5058), who has indicated she would be willing to also discuss his general situation with him, at the DSS main office.
Disabled people and seniors with incomes that are low but not low enough for Medicaid can get help paying for their prescription drugs from the state’s Connecticut Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract to the Elderly and Disabled. The legislature recently imposed asset limits and estate recovery requirements on this program. More information is available at www. connpace. com
Independent Living Centers
Connecticut's five independent living centers are nonprofit organizations that promote empowerment and self-reliance for people with disabilities. They provided four core services:
1. information and referral (the centers assist clients in identifying and accessing services and supports, benefits, assistive technology, housing, personal assistance services, or any other resources to enhance independent living);
2. peer support (peer counselors provide support to clients by drawing on their own experience with disabilities and negotiating the system);
3. individual and systems advocacy (ILCs assist clients in securing supports and services needed to maximize their independence and engage in general advocacy to challenge the barriers that can stigmatize and exclude people with disabilities from full community participation); and
4. independent living skills training (the centers provide training in activities of daily living and the skills needed to make community living as full and rich as possible. Examples of skill training areas are: management and recruitment of personal attendants, financial management, utilizing community resources, locating housing, consumer rights and responsibilities).
They also partner with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (sse below) to help disabled people prepare to go back to work. http: //www. brs. state. ct. us/
Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) -Medicaid Ticket to Work
If your constituent is interested in going back to work (as many paraplegics have done), he can contact the closest office of the state Department of Social Service’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS). The one in New Haven is at 414 Chapel Street (202) 974-3000. A good person to contact there would be Iris Mellow-Barnes.
BRS helps disabled people who are interested in going back to work prepare to do so and helps them find work and keep the jobs they get. The agency has vocational rehabilitation counselors to help the client and provides vocational rehabilitation services, either directly or through partnership with service providers and community agencies. The agency also provides statewide benefits counseling at its Connect to Work center, administers the Connecticut Tech Act Project which helps clients get the assistive technology they need for greater independence at work, school, or in the community. The Bureau also provides independent living services through contracts with the independent living centers in the state.
Disabled people who are currently receiving Medicaid benefits may be able to go back to work without losing their Medicaid insurance coverage under the Medicaid Ticket to Work program, which BRS counselors can also advise your constituent about.
Details are available at:
http: //www. infoline. org/InformationLibrary/Documents/Centers%20for%20Independent%20Living%20rj. asp and http: //www. brs. state. ct. us/.
Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled
The Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities is an independent state agency created to safeguard and advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in Connecticut. Part of a nationwide network of protection and advocacy systems, the office provides information, referral, and advocacy services. It also pursues legal and administrative remedies on behalf of disabled people who are discriminated against. It conducts investigations into complaints from people with disabilities. Finally, it provides public education and training on disability issues and informs policy makers about issues affecting people with disabilities. Its website is: http: //www. state. ct. us/opapd/.