Newsletter 2019
A note from Debbie......
Matt and I took a few days off this month. We took walks with Lucy, ate great food, and spent time with our family. It was a perfect way to rest our minds. We are re-energized and ready to finish the year with our December Supper Social Club and all of our scheduled projects and trials.
Thank You!
give miami day 2019 logo
Thank you for all of your support during Give Miami Day this year.
Florida State and Local Remedies for Civil Rights Violations in Public Accommodations
scales of justice
No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Equal protection is a right that is enshrined in both the Florida and the United States Constitutions. However, what most advocates and lawyers do not realize is that there are many local and state statutes that provide damages and other remedies for civil rights violations. As a lawyer or an advocate who is not a lawyer, it is important to know of these laws or ordinances and know how to use them. 

This article focuses only on public accommodations, and not housing or employment; however, housing and employment discrimination similarly have state and local protections. In addition, this article does not cover criminal penalties for violating protected rights.  

Importance of hiring an attorney:
Becoming an effective self-advocate is not rocket science, but its definitely not easy. If you are interested in learning more of the process of how these state statutes work or how these local ordinances work, call up the FCHR or the local human rights director and ask additional questions. Call up an attorney and see how these statutes can be used. This article is meant as a guideline to introduce the reader to the existence of these remedies, and not a comprehensive solution on any individual’s case.  So, if you have a question on how a local ordinance works, print out the ordinance and ask an attorney to give you instructions on what the terms mean, and to provide you a general outline of the procedures under the law. 

There are very few attorneys that handle these cases throughout the State of Florida. 

DIG in the News
Out & About with DIG

Supper Social Club
December 2, 2019
Coral Gables, FL

10th Circuit's Fairness & Diversity Summit
December 5, 2019
Polk County, FL

Spectrum Family Fair
December 14, 2019
Miami, FL

Supper Social Club
January 6, 2020
Coral Gables, FL

Supper Social Club
February 3, 2020
Coral Gables, FL

Supper Social Club
March 2, 2020
Coral Gables, FL

dancing in support of the underline for give miami day
Give Miami Day with dancers performing for the Underline
unite miami training at the DIG office with people sitting at tables and talking
Unite Miami Training at DIG about Education Law
supper social collage with winners Heath and Simon smiling at the tables eating dinner
Supper Social Club with raffle prize winners Heath and Simon
DIG staff Courtney and Marlon standing with Lucy at our DIG lunch and learn
DIG Lunch and Learn with Courtney and Marlon about voting and the disability vote.
Debbie Nicole and Stephanie standing in front of a screen for a presentation about SSI benefits
Debbie, Nicole, and Stephanie for a training for Project EMBRACE about SSI benefits and employment
Officer Alex and Roy with the Childrens Trust Team having a meeting about the  k9s for kids project
Officer Alex and Roy visiting the Children's Trust for our K9's for Kids update.
Miami Inclusion Alliance
I came across an interesting webinar on the Vera Center for Victimization and Safety website. It addressed an issue rarely talked about, yet really important, as we strive for an inclusive system for victim/survivors. Many victim/survivors of domestic violence with disabilities, still face barriers within the family court and child welfare systems. When a parent is a victim/survivor with a disability, the odds of losing custody of their children increase exponentially. As of 2012, 35 states still listed disability as grounds for termination of parental rights even without evidence of abuse or neglect. 

Here are some suggestions from the experts that can improve the outcomes in these systems for victims with disabilities:

Ensure accessibility in physical space, programs and services and, and all forms of communication.

Promote understanding of the experiences of victims with disabilities, including discrimination in custody matters.

Ensure that victims with disabilities in these court systems are being appropriately represented by attorneys trained in disability.

If you would like to discuss further, you can reach me at

The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Justine will be back next month.

Happy Birthday Justine!
Kids Crusaders
Kids Crusaders Logo
Julie will be back soon.
Lucille's Wall
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
When traveling with your dog make sure to pack water, a water bowl, food, and treats. Here is Lucy in the car on our way to Georgia. She is using a roll of paper towels as a pillow.
lucy lying on a roll of paper towels as a pillow while she is sitting in the car
The Wallet Card Project
the wallet card words in a diamond shape blue figure
The wallet card is a tool to be used by a teenager or an adult with a disability. Currently, we have developed cards for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities.
Wheels & Heels
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.
Lorinda will be back soon

black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
Supper Social Club - December 2019
California Pizza Kitchen, 300 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

12/02/19 6:30pm - 12/02/19 8:30pm

I'll be there!
I can't make it
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
What information am I supposed to report to Social Security?

Below is a chart that provides general direction about what beneficiaries need to report to Social Security. Keep in mind that for the SSI program, these reporting requirements apply not only to the SSI eligible individual, but also to the parents of SSI recipients under 18 and to the spouses of SSI eligible individuals.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
1. Unearned income including things like other Social Security payments, child support payments, or any other cash received that is not earned income.
2. Any gross wages/earnings and net earnings from self-employment. This includes in-kind items received in lieu of wages (like room and board).
3. In-kind support and maintenance received from others. This includes any assistance with food and shelter provided by another person.
4. Change of address.
5. Changes in living arrangements.
6. Changes in marital status.
7. Resources or assets received that cause
8. Use of any specific work incentives.
Title II Disability Programs (SSDI, CDB, DWB)
1. Any gross wages/earnings and net earnings from self-employment. This includes in-kind items received in lieu of wages (like room and board).
2. Changes in marital status (only applies to CDB and DWB – not SSDI).
3. Change of address.
4. Receipt of any public disability benefits such as Worker’s Compensation.
5. Use of any specific work incentives.

** Unearned income and resources are not considered by the Title II disability programs, thus are not required to be reported to Social Security.
Remember that it is your responsibility to promptly report all relevant changes to the Social Security Administration and any other federal, state, or local entity administering benefits you receive.

Reporting wages or earnings to SSA
To prevent over-payments from Social Security, you should regularly report your wages within six days of the end of the month. You can report your wages by bringing pay stubs to your local Social Security office. Find an office near you by visiting the Social Security office locator.

When reporting employment initially, or employment changes, the critical information to report includes:
•          Name, address and phone number of employing company
•          Name of direct supervisor
•          Date of hire/date of termination
•          Pay rate and average number of hours worked per week
•          Pay dates
•          Job title

How to Report Your Wages for SSDI
I recommend you log into your Social Security account at
( ) and report your earnings each month. Individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and their representative payees may use my Social Security to report wages online.

How to report your wages for SSI
1.You are able to report your earnings via phone by calling
1-866 -772 -0953. Please call in the first week of the month to report the previous month. Please have ready your social security # and total amount of gross earnings in the month and please save your pay stubs. This is really easy option since you don’t have to travel every month to the local social security office and you will also avoid over-payments.

2. Mobile app - If you have a smartphone, Social Security's SSI provides easy ways to report your wages.

3. By requesting SSA to estimate your monthly earnings in that way you won’t have to go to the SSA office every month. In the event that you work less in a month SSA will pay you back the different.

How to report your wages if you are concurrent receiving SSI and SSDI
If you receive both SSI and SSDI, when you report your earnings, it may be helpful for you to make two copies of your information; one copy for Social Security staff who handle the SSDI program and another copy for staff who handle the SSI program. You are not required to do this, but if you decide to, having two copies of your wage information may make it easier for Social Security to process your wages.

If you are self-employed , you need to report that to Social Security – even if you are not making a profit. Be sure to file your taxes promptly with the IRS and send a copy of your tax returns to Social Security.

SSA beneficiaries should submit their pay stubs to the local Social Security office within six days after the month in which the wages were paid. Some Field Offices may ask you to mail pay stubs less often. If you don’t report each month, make sure your estimated earnings are correct so you will not be overpaid.

Do Not assume that the check you receive from Social Security is correct and has had wages accounted for. You need to know what your check should be and watch to make sure adjustments are made.

If you are getting checks or direct deposits that you think you may not be entitled to – do NOT spend them ! Deposit them in the bank while you work with Social Security to get the record updated.

Timely wage reporting helps prevent over-payments from Social Security. An over-payment occurs when Social Security has paid you more than you should have been paid in accordance with the rules of your benefits.

If you are overpaid, you may be required to repay the government. In an over-payment situation, Social Security will alert you and your representative payee, if you have one. The notice will explain why you have been overpaid, and how you must repay the money. The notice will also include your appeal and waiver rights.

If you have additional questions about how to report earnings to SSA please contact your local WIPA project at 305-453-3491
-Lesly Q. 
ATV Florida!
Access the vote logo in red and blue with the word access the in white letters with a red background and vote in white letters with a blue background and the state of florida in the middle in white
Join one of our new standing committees

ATVFL Outreach Committee – this committee will meet regularly to discuss planning and execution of ATVFL’s outreach efforts and related collaboration to counties and supervisors’ offices (our first phase of these efforts are underway and in draft format); this includes working to set up and build awareness of events such as poll worker education, equipment demonstrations, town halls and panel discussions with election officials, recruitment of poll workers with disabilities, voter education, et cetera.

ATVFL Candidate Engagement Committee – this committee will meet as appropriate to discuss approaches and opportunities to engage candidates for office at all levels of government (federal, state, county, and municipal) on the necessity of disability inclusion in voting/elections issues, but also on issues of importance to the disability community; this will include the possibility of structuring candidate questionnaires, organizing candidate forums, assisting others in the state hosting candidate events to make those events adequately accessible, compiling resources and information regarding website accessibility for distribution to the parties and campaigns, et cetera.

ATVFL Voter Engagement Committee – this committee will meet to discuss ways to increase voter participation and turnout within the disability community at multiple levels, including consideration of GOTV (Get Out the Vote) activities and efforts, planning for National Disability Voter Registration Week as well as National Voter Registration Week, and other needed avenues to ensure inclusion of a disability voting/elections presence in the state within other GOTV efforts underway.
Educational Information
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
educational support flyer that lists prices for consultations school meetings and legal representation

Your Upward Journey
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

It is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).