Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

Logo for Disability Independence Group, Inc. (DIG).
Newsletter - Volume #12 December 2016
A Note from Matt ...
Matt sitting on a couch hugging the dog lucy
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
The measure of the moral good of our society is how we treat one another, and whether we treat others with the dignity and respect that any cogent being deserves.  What we attempt to accomplish at DIG is to ensure that dignity is maintained and empower those who lose or are threatened with the loss of basic human rights, liberties, and equal opportunity solely because of a disability, or other difference in appearance, belief, origin, or who someone loves.   While this may seem like this is not too much to hope for, we were busy this year, and expect to be busy for the next few years.  If you like what we do, be good to your neighbors, speak out against the erosion of human rights and dignity, and donate to DIG, so we can do even more.  www.justdigit.org/donate-now/
DIG in the News
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12/16/2016 - Man says state won't let him take truck-driving test because he's deaf, WPLG 10, http://www.local10.com/news/man-says-state-wont-let-him-take-truck-driving-test-because-hes-deaf
12/8/2016 - Hearing-impaired man sues Florida agency for barring him from taking CDL test - Florida Record - http://flarecord.com/stories/511051877-hearing-impaired-man-sues-florida-agency-for-barring-him-from-taking-cdl-test
12/7/2016 - Video shows police failing to help amputee who fell during arrest - http://wsvn.com/news/local/video-shows-police-failing-to-help-disabled-woman-who-fell-during-arrest/
12/6/2016  City of Miami Police Department - Wallet Card Demonstration - https://www.facebook.com/CityofMiamiPoliceDepartment/videos/1230773367013204/?pnref=story
Out and About with DIG

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1-20-17 CARD Statewide Conference, Orlando, FL 
FL Bar Animal Law Section webinar training on Emotional Support Animals.  
2/3/17  ABA Mid year meeting, Disability and Due Process, Miami, FL 
April  ABC's of ESA's, New Orleans, LA 
Matt, his client and her husband standing in front of a Christmas tree.
Matt with his client and her husband
Marie-Ilene, Debbie, and Pat speaking at the Coral Gables Youth Center.
Marie-Ilene, Debbie, and Pat speaking at the Coral Gables Youth Center
Matt being interviewed by Channel 7.
Matt being interviewed by Channel 7.
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Kids Crusaders Corner 

Julie will be back in the new year with a new article!

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dv At The Intersection of Disability and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

In 2016, one of DIG's greatest accomplishments was becoming part of the solution for the serious problem of access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for persons with disabilities. We did this by spending the year building partnerships with three organizations that are the pillars in our community for serving victims of abuse. They are MUJER (Mujeres Unidas en Justicia,Educacion,y Reforma, inc.) CVAC (Coordinated Victim Assistance Center of Miami Dade County), and Dade Legal Aid.
With a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, US Department of Justice (only 6 awarded in the country) we spent this year creating a Collaboration Charter that will direct our work together for the next two years.
One organization can never offer all the services victims/survivors with disabilities need when experiencing violence and abuse. With funding so scarce, it is almost impossible for one organization to serve everyone and offer all services. That is why the only solution is creative and meaningful collaborations. The Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA) that we formed this year, is such a collaboration. The four of us have come together to forge a partnership that will lead to a safer, more accessible system of care for victims who are persons with disabilities. This partnership will allow each of us to expand our understanding of victims/survivors' needs and combine our resources to create a system of services that is more complete and integrated.

What can be achieved when you build the right Collaboration? NEW and CREATIVE SOLUTIONS
To do that you must:
  1. Involve the right organizations and people.  
  2. Learn about each organization.  
  3. Create a shared mission and vision, and shared values.  
  4. Develop clear expectations regarding roles and responsibilities.  
  5. Determine how best to work together.  
  6. Keep safety and access at the forefront.  
  7. Dedicate sufficient time and resources to the collaboration. *
That is what we have done in 2016 and we look forward to even more important work in 2017.

*(End Abuse for Persons with Disabilities.com)

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at sharon@justdigit.org
The Wallet Card Logo.  A blue hexagon with the words the wallet card in the hexagon.
walletcardThe Wallet Card Project

The wallet card is a tool for young adults to use when they come into contact with law enforcement; either as a victim, a witness, or as a potential suspect.

The wallet card will help to clarify any interaction with law enforcement so that the behavior of the person with a disability is not misinterpreted as suspicious or as criminal behavior.

Click here to sign up for a wallet card

The Wallet Card Project is a collaboration with DIG, CGPD, and UM-NSU CARD.

Wallet Card Training
City of Miami Police working with project SEARCH students.
City of Miami Police and project SEARCH students.
with City of Miami Police and
Project SEARCH Students
Shop Amazon Smile
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Lesly Lopez head shot
What is Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA according to the Social Security Administration?
By: Lesly Lopez  

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person's disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Both SGA amounts generally change with changes in the national average wage index.

Substantial Gainful amounts for 2017 are:
For statutorily blind individuals for 2017 is $1,950.
For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2017 is $1,170.  

What is Substantial Gainful Activity anyway?

Social Security Definition of Disability
: To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):
That is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
We use the term "substantial gainful activity" to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is "substantial" if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA. "Gainful" work activity is:
Work performed for pay or profit; or Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.
We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we use SGA to decide if your eligibility for benefits continues after you return to work and complete your Trial Work Period

-Substantial Gainful Activity (Social Security Administration) https://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/sg a.html
-Social Security Administration. 2017 Red Book: How we define disability? 2017 edition.
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2016 Highlights
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Food....how could that relate to this month's topic, "highlights of the year" Here's how- At DIG we celebrate the highlights with food. 
All jokes aside the highlights of this year has been in the cases we were successful in and the positive changes that were made as a result. Unfortunately, confidentiality prevents me from disclosing the specifics so I resorted to talking about food! (Haha)
We've converted the Friday pizza parties from the days of school to celebratory morning bagels after a case settles. Who am I kidding? We still celebrate with pizza parties. Sometimes pizza is also a must after a very difficult week.
2016 Highlights:
January- Our first Lunch and Learn. Debbie Dietz and Sharon Langer presented information about domestic violence to our office to educate us on the subject matter they were working on for one their grants. Since it's almost a fact that people listen better when there's pizza involved, pizza was served!
February- Welcome Lunch for the Spring Interns. We took the spring interns to lunch to get to know them a little out of the office. The best way to open up is over food!
March- Much need stress relief pizza.
April- H.O.P.E. Luncheon at Jungle Island.
May-FAWL's Third Annual Leadership Summit. While this event did not technically revolve around food, lunch was served. The highlight was being there to hear Sharon Langer speak. This counts!
June- "Welcome Lunch for our summer interns at Flannigan's.
July- 3rd Lunch & Learn.
August- "Thank you lunch" with our interns at Sergio's.
September - The WalletCard Fund Raiser at Shake Shack
October- Cupcakes from Veritext
November- Breakfast bagels
December - Stress relief Pizza / Holiday Lunch
As you can see, there's been many highlights throughout this year. I hope 2017 brings many highlights for us and for each of you!
Logo for the fair housing video series.
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
patuYour Upward Journey

In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.

A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing.
penguinA Parcel of Penguins


For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or  debbie@justdigit.org. 
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Disability Independence Group, Inc.

Thank you to the organizations that support our projects.

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  Disability Independence Group, Inc. | 305-669-2822 | info@justdigit.org | www.justdigit.org