Welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of In Touch, the quarterly newsletter of Independence Now. Please use the in-page links below to naviagte to the various articles. For your convenience there is a "back to top" link after each article.

In Touch

Do not panic and do not ignore them!

MD-WINFar too often, the first call we receive from a beneficiary at the Maryland Work Incentives Network is a request to help deal with an overpayment. Callers often react based on panic. Overpayments, which are often large, can be frightening, particularly for someone who already has been struggling to get by with limited income.

There are a few things that you should know about overpayments. First, overpayments are not the end of the world. While the amount that SSA says you owe may seem insurmountable, you have some options in how to respond. Take a step back before you panic and see how best to respond. The other thing that you should know is that it is not personal. Overpayments happen every day. The people you meet at the Field Offices are just trying to apply the rules with the information that they have. Try to approach the situation without getting overly upset. Most important of all is to respond to the overpayment?DO NOT ignore it! You have several ways to respond, and two of them are time-sensitive.

First, if you believe the overpayment decision is correct and you can repay it without financial hardship, fill out the form that comes with the notice. Some people make repayment right away, or you can create a payment plan and pay it back over a period of time. How much you pay each month is up for negotiation between yourself and Social Security, though Social Security prefers to recover the overpayment within three years. If you want to pay it back, but you cannot do it within three years, you may request a slower payback. You will have to let Social Security know your expenses and income, so they can help determine how much you can pay back each month. If you need a payment plan, contact Social Security right away to negotiate the amount you can pay. If you don't, Social Security will begin to withhold your checks to recover the amount you owe.

If the decision that created the overpayment is correct, but it was not your fault and there is no way that you can repay it without serious financial hardship, you can request a Waiver. You need to show that the overpayment was caused by circumstances that were not your fault. If Social Security grants a waiver, it means you don't have to pay it back. You can request a waiver at any time?this is not time-sensitive, though failure to alert Social Security that you wish to request a waiver may result in them withholding your payments to recover the overpayment. In other words, you can ask for a waiver at any time, but you should act quickly if that is the way you want to respond to a notice of overpayment. If you think the decision is incorrect, you should appeal the decision.

The opportunity to appeal has a time limit. Social Security gives you sixty days to file an appeal, but you should do it as soon as you can, to avoid having your benefits withheld to repay the overpayment. Reconsideration is the first step of an appeal. Someone at the Field Office who did not make the original decision will review your request along with any supporting documents you present. If Social Security reverses the decision, congratulations. If not, you have the right to appeal the decision further, or request a waiver of the overpayment. If you decide to continue to appeal, though, you must file the next appeal within sixty days of the denial notice.

We at Maryland Work Incentives Network help with overpayments related directly to your work activity. We can help you understand which option is best in responding to an overpayment notice. We cannot act as your representative, but we can help you represent yourself. Let us know if you have any questions. Our number is 1-888-838-1776.

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Men's Group Event

Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 11am -2:00pm

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Independence Now Annual Meeting

Independence NowThursday, June 9th from 2pm - 5pm at 3300 East-West Highway, Hyattsville, MD 20782. There will be a panel presentation on Employment from the National, Local and consumer perspective. Everyone welcome!


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MD-YLF (Maryland Youth Leadership Forum) 2016

Open to Maryland residents with ANY type of disability in their last two years of high school or graduating in the spring of 2016. This annual event will be held at Towson University June 23-25, 2016. Deadline for application April 2016. For more information, contract Shannon Minnick, Youth Services Coordinator at 240-898-0070 or sminnick@innow.org.

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2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living -- Solidarity: Everybody In

July 25-28, 2016, Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC
NCIL advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities. NCIL envisions a world in which people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully. We echo the words of Justin Dart: "I call for solidarity among all who love justice, all who love life, to create a revolution that will empower every single human being to govern his or her life, to govern the society and to be fully productive of life quality for self and for all." For more information, visit http://www.ncil.org or email: ncil@ncil.org.

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PATH TO EMPOWERMENT/Creative Cooking Class

Third Thursday monthly 11am ? 1:30pm

April 21
It's time to celebrate! This 12-month program, Path to Empowerment journey has helped us discover different types of healthy foods, smart and low cost shopping, adaptive tools for use in the kitchen, kitchen safety, food measurements, build relationships and many other life skills and increased knowledge to help us live a healthy and independent lifestyle. We will conclude this program with celebrating our success while exploring various healthy foods.

Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 to register and to request accommodations.

May 19 -- Creative Cooking Class -- National BBQ month
Did you know that May is National BBQ month? Well in light of this revelation we will be learning barbequing right from your kitchen in an easy and healthy method in any season.

Contact Victor Murrana at 240-898-2185 or Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184 to register and to request accommodations.

June 16 -- Creative Cooking Class -- National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
While most of us know that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables are important for good health, do we actually know the variety of choices, the nutritional value, various ways of preparation and how much we eat? Let's learn and prepare together.

Contact Victor Murrana at 240-898-2185 or Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184 to register and to request accommodations.

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Housing Seminar

Fourth Thursday monthly 1pm - 3pm

This event is designed to provide up-to-date information about housing programs, housing options and provide training on housing preparation and how to retain your housing. To register, request accommodations or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184.

April 28 -- Fair Housing and You: Do you know your rights? Presented by Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and Equal Rights Center.

May 26 -- How to complete a public housing application and Certification Packet
Speaker to be announced.

June 23 -- Are You Ready to Move?
How to complete a rental assistance application? Go through step by step process for Montgomery and Prince George's County rental assistance process.

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Financial/Budgeting Seminar -- Financial Literacy Month

Wednesday, April 13th, 1pm - 3pm

Budgeting Basics 101 Presented by Dan Florea of Guidewell Financial Services. To register, request accommodations or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184' about accommodations for college courses and services available for student with disabilities. For accommodation requests contact Kelvin at 240-638-0068.

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Advocate's Theater -- Movie "Concussion"

Wednesday, May 11th, 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Will Smith stars in Concussion, a dramatic thriller based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American Immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu's emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful institutions in the world.

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Independence Now Employment ServicesEmployment Services are now a reality. Independence Now is in the fledging phase of the process. We are very eager to begin helping people to achieve their dreams for employment. If you have an open DORS case and or have a Ticket-to-Work give us a call. We are looking for serious job seekers who are highly motivated to work. If this is you, contact Denise Sosbe, Employment Services Coordinator at 240-898-2188 or dsosbe@innow.org.

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IL Awareness Day

Independence Now staff participated in IL Awareness Day hosted March 1, 2016 by the Statewide Independent Living Council. We successfully presented materials and brochures to all legislators in Montgomery and Prince George's County.

Staff in picture: Executive Director, Sarah Sorensen; Director of Independent Living Services, Deborah Jackson; Independent Living Specialist, Rochelle Harrod; Debra Potts, Administrative Coordinator and Michael Saunders, Lead Peer Support Counselor

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National Volunteer Week is April 10-16

"honoring the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities"

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Independence Now's Volunteers

New Members and Donors - Welcome and Thanks!
Equipment Connections for Children
Outback Steak House

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