Welcome to the Summer 2015 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

Independence Now celebrates 20 years of Empowering Freedom and Independence for People with Disabilities & 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Independence Now is celebrating 20 years of Empowering Freedom and Independence for People with Disabilities and 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a Craft Beer and Wine Tasting fundraiser.

The event will be held on Saturday, July 18, 2015 from 2-5pm at Signature Blue Events, 6500 Virginia Manor Road, Beltsville, MD.

Reservations are $55 per person and $60 after July 5th. To make your reservation, call 240-898-2182 or visit www.innow.org.

Sample the best of local wines and craft beers. Light hors d'ouevres and desserts will be served. Music will accompany the event program. All proceeds from the event and silent auction benefit Independence Now, a 501c3 organization.

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From MD-WIN...

Prince George's County Council APPROVES LEGISLATION ESTABLISHING TAX CREDIT FOR RESIDENCES EQUIPPED WITH ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES

The Prince George's County Council, during Council session on June 2nd, approved Council Bill 7-2015, legislation establishing a property tax credit for the installation of accessibility enhancements on an existing primary residence.

Council Bill 7-2015 provides homeowners with a tax credit equal to 50% of eligible costs, or $2,500 for an eligible accessibility feature installed on an existing principal residence. Any credit exceeding the annual tax liability of the property may be carried over until the next tax year.

Council Member Todd M. Turner (D) - District 4, proposer of CB-7, says the legislation provides a financial incentive for installing features that make a home more accessible for disabled residents and seniors.

"Council Bill 7-2015 will lessen the financial burden for residents who want to make accessibility enhancements to their homes," said Council Member Turner. "It is important for residents to have the option of living in their homes safely and independently, for as long as they desire to do so."

Under the legislation, accessibility features eligible for a tax credit include a no-step front door; installed ramp; 32''-wide interior doorway; 36"- wide exterior doorway; reinforced walls surrounding a toilet, tub or shower; maneuvering space of at least 38"x48" in a bathroom or kitchen; elevator, lift or stair glide unit; accessibility-enhanced bathroom; or alarms, appliances and controls designed to assist an individual with a sensory disability.

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July 26, 2015 - Camden Yards Warehouse

ADA 25West Camden Street, Baltimore
10am - 2pm

10-11:30 am - Camden Warehouse North Lot
Legacy Bus Tour Welcome
Community Fair and Outdoor Festivities

12-1:30 pm - Camden Warehouse Sixth Floor Banquet Room
Indoor Program & Reception

The Maryland Department of Disabilities is looking forward to an exciting event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passing of the ADA! Some of the event highlights include:

  • FREE to the public (registration encouraged)
  • Outdoor resource fair with local community groups, service providers, and others interested in raising awareness
  • ADA Legacy Tour bus will make a stop for photos and to sign the ADA Pledge
  • Elected officials and area talent will come together during our indoor program as we highlight the difference the ADA has made in our lives
  • Family friendly activities

REGISTER TO ATTEND!

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Movie Advocacy Night

Aug 12th, 5:30pm - 8pm

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! An evening with old friends and a chance to make new friends. This event will display a movie depicting a civil rights event or characters with a disability. Following the movie there will be an open discussion. Popcorn and light refreshment will be served. Movie will include audio description and closed captioning.

Contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-8124 or Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 for more information or to RSVP.
Location: 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD 20904

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MY VOICE Speak-Up Social/YOUTH FIELD DAY/EXPO

Aug 14th, 1pm - 4pm
Teens with Disabilities (ages 12-18) join us for this year's Youth Field Day/Expo! Fun activities like Tug-of-War, Water Balloon Relays, and Sack Races along with informative and educational Community Booths with demonstrations, visuals, hands-on activities, and experts who are ready to share their knowledge with inquisitive minds who want to know more. Share in a discussion about family, school, relationships, the future and living on your own.

Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 to register and obtain location details.
For accommodations, call to six business days prior to event.

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Path to Empowerment (Creative Cooking, No Excuses and Spinal Cord Injury)

July 16th, 11am - 1:30pm
Ask the Nutritionist about healthy eating and planning healthy meals on a budget questions. As well as participate in creating a healthy meal. Just for you! . . . a representative from Spirit Club Fitness will be present to provide extra guidance and encouragement in learning to maintain and appreciate a healthy & active lifestyle.

Aug 20th, 11am - 1:30pm
Join us at Burtonsville Giant (15791 Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD) to shop for quick easy meal, learn how to use Peapod (grocery home delivery) and visit the pharmacist to learn how medication and food interact with one another. Attendees will receive a $15 gift card to shop for a healthy low cost meal.

Sept 16th, 11am - 1:30pm
This session will be on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Attendees, staff and SNAP staff will meet at the Farmers Market in Silver Spring. Attendees will participate in discussion about healthy eating, cooking and planning healthy meals on a budget.

Public transportation travel reimbursement for participants will be provided. Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 or sminnick@innow.org to RSVP and for location. For accommodation please call at least six business days prior to each event.

Thursday Monthly Round-trip travel reimbursement for IN consumers will be provided for Metro Access, Metro bus or rail.

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EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR

Sept. 28th, 1pm - 3pm
Traveling the road to successfully employment and not sure where to begin or if you even want to obtain gainful employment. This seminar will help whether you are considering full or part time employment or want a new career. It will provide you with steps, information and support to understand what your Community College has to offer from Certifications to Associates Degree.

For more information or to RSVP contact Kelvin at 240-638-0068.

Location: 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD 20904

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FINANCIAL SEMINAR -- BUDGETING

Aug. 5th, 1pm - 3pm
Having trouble with balancing your checkbook? Need help learning how to save? Join us to learn ins and outs of financial literacy and take another step towards financial stability and housing readiness. Presenter Dan Florea, Outreach Coordinator of Guidewell Financial Solutions.

Contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-8124 for more information or to RSVP.
Location: 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD 20904

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HOUSING SEMINARS

July 23rd, 1pm - 3pm - Housing and Advocacy
Learn how to overcome barriers to obtaining housing that will meet your housing need. We'll take you through the steps of knowing what to ask and how to express your housing needs whether you may need reasonable accommodations, modifications or architectural designs and other possible barriers.

August 27th, 1pm - 3pm - Low Income Housing and Renter's Insurance
Before you move into your new apartment, some properties require renters to purchase renters insurance. Come learn how to research policies and coverage that is affordable and protects you and your property without breaking your budget.

September 24th, 1pm - 3pm - Urgent and Transitional Housing Options
Were you recently evicted or in need of immediate housing because you can no longer afford rent where you are? Resources for Montgomery and Prince George's County will be discussed.

Presented by Kathy Hines of Educare Inc, Homeshare Program
Contact, Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-8124 for more information or RSVP.
Location: 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD 20904

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LET'S GET TOGETHER (NURSING HOME TRANSITIONING)

July 9th, 2pm - 4pm
Thinking about, planning for, or in the process of moving back into the community from a Nursing Facility? You are invited to come to Independence Now and mingle with people who, like you, are in all different phases of transition.

September 2nd, 2pm - 4pm - FUN IN THE SUN part 2
This session of Fun in the Sun will focused on such questions as how do I prepare for housing and what should I be doing now? If you're ready to obtain your independence, join us!

Please invite anyone who is in a nursing facility and may be interested in transitioning out.
Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-630-0070 to register and obtain location details.

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Reporting

Not as scary as you might think

Anyone who receives any kind of benefit from anywhere needs to be familiar with the reporting requirements of the program. Each program can have a different set of rules and requirements for what they want from the beneficiaries. The more important the program is to that person's day-to-day survival, the more nervous they can get in reporting any changes that can affect their eligibility for the program. Unfortunately, too many people avoid reporting when they should, which can lead to some serious problems.

Many people are afraid that they will lose their benefits when they report that they have started working or their situation has otherwise changed. This is a fear that has many people locked out of even trying to work. For those who are working, the fear is that they will be found out. Others may think that since they are paying taxes, other government agencies will automatically find out that they are working. That's not generally how it works.

Social Security and other government agencies will eventually find out that you have been working. However, by the time they do, it may be too late to head off the problems that could occur. If they get the information from the IRS, it is usually months or years after the fact. Also, the only thing they learn is income averaged over a three month period in most cases. Even then, it may be incomplete or inaccurate. Social Security may try to get earnings details from your employer, but again, what is sent back is often incomplete and accurate.

So, the issue comes down to this: who has the greater interest to make sure that your record is complete, accurate and up-to-date? Does the IRS have a personal stake in making sure that your records at SSA are up-to-date? No. Is the IRS interested in making sure that SSA has the most accurate data? No. Will the IRS care if your benefits with SSA are interrupted by a mistake? Probably not.

So, who does have your best interest at heart? That would be you. No one else will suffer the consequences or enjoy the rewards of action or inaction more acutely than you will. If there is a change in your favor, you get it. If there is a change against you, you feel it more than anyone else. Think of it this way: reporting your earnings or any other change in your situation is your opportunity to tell the story your way.

When you report your earnings, you can make sure that everything is correct and you can tell SSA or the other government agencies if there were any work incentives (see your friendly neighborhood CWIC) or other circumstances that would affect how they view your information. If you have any questions about how and when to report certain information to SSA or other agencies, call MD-WIN at 240-638-0071.

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