Welcome to The Monthly Memo

February, 2015

The Arc of New Mexico Mission

The mission of The Arc of New Mexico is to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages by advocating for equal opportunities and choices in where and how they learn, live, work, play and socialize.  The Arc of New Mexico will promote self-determination, healthy families, effective community support systems and partnerships.

 The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

www.arcnm.org

Twitter:Arc of NM@TheArcNM

Facebook: The Arc of New Mexico

Donate Now: https://www.arcnm.org/donate-now/

The Arc of New Mexico

Defending Civil Rights Since 1955

The Beginning: 1950's and 1960's

The Arc of New Mexico was established in 1955 by a small group of families from Albuquerque, Artesia, Los Alamos and Roswell - parents who cared about their kids with disabilities and wanted to create a good life for them in the community at a time when individuals with disabilities were kept out of sight at home or institutionalized and spent most of their time isolated from the outside world.

Their first activities revolved around supporting each other, developing chapters and creating opportunities for their children to go to camp and school.  They begin to coalesce around the issue of influencing public policy in New Mexico and the nation so their children could have access to a free and appropriate public education.  Over 25 local chapters were established throughout the state.

The organization was originally known as the Association for Retarded Children of New Mexico, in 1974 the name was changed to the Association for Retarded Citizens of New Mexico, and then to The Arc of New Mexico in 1992.

 - 1950’s   State provided custodial care; families had no system of support

- 1955:  Founded October 28, Mrs. Max Niece was the first President.

- 1956:  Focus was on development of local chapters, summer camp and public education;

- 1960:  Legislature appropriates $1 million for housing at Los Lunas; public policy becomes a key focus; The Arc acquired, developed group homes and leased them throughout the 1960s

- 1964:  January, the first director was hired, William Green former director of The Arc of South Dakota, his office was in a converted garage; New Mexico receives one of the first Federal grants to combat "mental retardation"; the first Arc camp was funded by a grant from Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation; Proposals were submitted to the state to transition from institution to the community.

- 1965-66:  Legislature passes bill to allow those who with intellectual disabilities who are trainable to attend public schools and extended the maximum age to 21 for schooling, The Arc of New Mexico becomes affiliated with The Arc of the United States and NM Legislature approves use of Fort Stanton for individuals with disabilities.

- 1967:  NM Legislature creates a "mental retardation" Coordinating Council consisting of representatives from five state agencies and seven from outside state agencies…this is the most important milestone in progress for more and better program for those with developmental disabilities; bills were passed to establish services for individuals through regional agencies and institutions.

- 1968:  Fort Stanton opened as a second institution. 

- 1969:  Department of Hospital and Institutions was established…to return as soon as possible to the community every patient or student who could become fully or partially productive;  House bill 173, Special Education Statute passed which clarified the current statute to include a greater number of disabilities and required schools to accept children at a legal age rather than the required mental age, and required schools to hire speech pathologists, provide transportation

From an article in the New Mexico Association for R------ Children (NMARC) Newsletter, October 1966:

“Eleven New Mexico communities, through voluntary agencies, have established non-profit training centers which now serve more than 140 children, who because of their mental and/or physical handicap, are not yet included in public school programs. With improved services in these centers, it is likely that a large number of these children can gain in ability to eventually be enrolled in public school classrooms, or at least be partially self-sufficient…had these children been fortunate to have been normal, they of course, would be a responsibility of the school district.”

Celebrating  60 Years

1955 - 2015

As we reflect on our past in this anniversary year, we are also working hard to strengthen and support the mission of The Arc.  Part of that work is expanding our fundraising efforts.  Our goal is to raise $60,000 in recognition of our 60th year. 

Please consider an anniversary gift of $30, $60, $120 or more.  Your gift will help The Arc carry out its mission of providing advocacy and services to individuals throughout New Mexico. 

You can either mail us a check or make an on-line donation at https://www.arcnm.org/donate-now/.

 A BIG thank you to our end of 2014 and January 2015 Donors: Veronica Chavez-Neuman, John Hall, Dinah Padilla-Harvey, Steve Kerns, John and Violet Foley, Amber Salazar, Philip Alvarez-Levin, Loretta Silva, Sophia Hamilton, Patricia Gull, Dolores Harden, Ling Faith-Heuertz, Carmen Garcia, Rosanna Soloperton, Vicki Galindo, Roger Weinreich, Van Nunley, Oscar Oscareno, State Liners Car Club, Siri GuruNam Kaur Khalsa, David and Julie Barringer, Professor M.E. Occhialino, and Randy Costales.

Don’t forget to give us your address so we can invite you to our 60th anniversary activities.  Click here: https://www.arcnm.org/update-profile/  or email me at rcostales@arcnm.org.

DRAD Celebrates ADA 25th Anniversary

Over 200 people attended the 2015 Disability Rights Awareness Day (DRAD) held February 2 & 3 in Santa Fe.  Monday's keynote speaker was Curt Decker, Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network, who worked for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and was at the White House signing ceremony in 1990.  The keynote was followed by a plenary on long-term services in New Mexico’s Medicaid program. 

In the afternoon, there were breakout sessions on the following topics - Human Rights and the U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Guardianship, Special Education:  Funding Issues and Limiting Use of Restraints & Seclusion, What the Community Engagement Team Can do When You’re Having a Mental Health Episode, Self-Direction, Updates on Disability History and Awareness Month, Meeting with Your Legislators, and Listening to Caregivers.

Tuesday's activities were held at the State Capital Building and included information booths, visits with legislators and a rally in the Rotunda.  Art Schreiber, New Mexico Commission for the Blind, was the keynote speaker.

The New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is the main funder and contracts The Arc of New Mexico to organize the event.  The Disability Coalition decides the topics and speakers for both days.

Other sponsors and exhibitors included Disability Rights New Mexico, Desert Hills of New Mexico, United HealthCare Community Plan, New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department, New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico School for the Deaf, Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell, New Vistas, Parents Reaching Out, Desert Hills, Aaron Fields Law Firm, New Mexico Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, New Mexico Allies for Advocacy, New Mexico Statewide Independent Living Council, Governor's Commission on Disability, New Mexico School for the Deaf, New Mexico Young Disability Leaders, Disability Advisory Group About Tobacco, Presbyterian Centennial Care, Cornucopia Adult and Family Services, the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability and the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Update on Special Needs Planning

This seminar is hosted by Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman, and Sale, PC and will focus on Special Needs Trusts, Pooled Trusts, the ABLE Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 from 4:30pm until 6:00pm

New Mexico CPA Society, 3400 Menaul Blvd NE (Across from American Furniture)

Limited seating capacity - Please RSVP by March 6, 2015

Email: info@pbwslaw.com, Phone 505-872-0505 Fax: 505-872-1009

Mail: 2424 Louisiana Blvd NE, Suite 200 Alb NM 87110

Co-Sponsors: AAA Participation Direction, ARCA, Alzheimer's Association NM, Decades LLC, Cerebral Palsy Parent Association of NM, Decisions in Care, Geriatric Care Management LLC, Guardianship and Care Management LLC, Heritage Trust Company of NM, Los Alamos National Bank, Necessity Case Management, Senior Citizens Law Office, Inc, The Arc of NM, and Zia Trust, Inc.

Resources About Down syndrome

The UNM Center for Development and Disability (CDD) Information Network Library has received a New Mexico Library Foundation Grant for $1,000.  The purpose of the grant is to purchase print and media materials about Down syndrome. The new items purchased with grant funding will focus on toddlers, transition to adulthood, and family resources about Down syndrome. 

The library is a special collections library with an emphasis on developmental disabilities and health topics.  The library is open to the public. We serve families by mailing books and DVDs directly to people’s homes with free postage paid return mailers for items to be returned.

The advisory committee includes Jeanne Favret and Phyllis Shingle from the CDD, Carmen Garcia from The Arc of New Mexico, Kristen Salazar and Felicia Salazar from the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network and Nadine Maes (not pictured). 

We look forward to announcing the new titles.  Please see our website with the online catalog to find books and DVDs in the library: http://www.cdd.unm.edu/InfoNet

Contact us to become a patron:

Email: HSC-InfoNet@salud.unm.edu

Phone: 505-272-0281 or 1-800-827-6380

Social Security to Expand

Field Office Hours Nationwide

Social Security announced that the agency will expand its hours nationwide and offices will be open to the public for an additional hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, effective March 16, 2015. A field office that is usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will remain open until 4:00 p.m. Offices will continue to close to the public at noon every Wednesday so employees have time to complete current work and reduce backlogs.

"This expansion of office hours reaffirms our commitment to providing the people we serve the option of top-notch, face-to-face assistance in field offices even as we work to expand online services for those who prefer that flexibility," said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. "The public expects and deserves world-class customer service and thanks to approved funding, I am pleased we will continue our tradition of exceptional service."
In recent years, Social Security reduced public office hours due to congressional budget cuts, growing backlogs and staffing losses. The agency began recovery in fiscal year 2014 by replacing some field office staffing losses and providing overtime support to process critical work. With the commitment of resources in fiscal year 2015, the agency is able to restore some service hours to the public.

Most Social Security business does not require a visit to a local field office. Many services, including applying for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits, creating any Social Security account, replacing a Medicare card, or reporting a change of address or telephone number are conveniently available anytime at www.socialsecurity.gov<http://www.socialsecurity.gov>. Social Security also offers assistance via a toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (Voice) and 1-800-325-0778 (TTY). Representatives are available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

Special Ed Clinic in Farmington

Advocacy and Recipes for IEP Success Workshop

Presented by Parents Reaching Out and Disability Rights New Mexico in collaboration with The Arc of San Juan County

• SPED Regulations

• Dispute Resolution

• Advocates will be available to give free one-on-one consultations on these issues. Please bring relevant documents (IEP’s, BIP’s, psychological evaluations, incident reports, etc.)

 Date:         February 24, 2015

Time:         9am – 4pm (Lunch will be provided)

Location:   San Juan Center for Independence, 1204 San Juan Boulevard

To register or for more information please call: The Arc of San Juan @ 505-325-8998. Individuals with disabilities who need accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting please notify the office when registering for this event.

Why Exercise?

By Jerry Husted, CIFT, CPT, CES, FNS

Physical inactivity is the leading factor that contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, primarily obesity, diabetes and cancer. Just over half of the adult population in the United States does not meet recommended guidelines for physical activity. People with disabilities tend to get even less and are at much higher risk of developing these diseases. 

Take one minute and study the graph that shows actual causes of death in the US. www.managedcaremag.com

We know, or we should, about the risks of smoking. Let’s look at the runner-up cause of death, Diet/Activity Patterns. If there was a pill that could be prescribed that would save the lives of a few hundred thousand people a year, would it not be? Wouldn’t we all be on the waiting list? No such medication exists but a solution as simple as swallowing a tablet does.

Exercise has been proven in many different research studies to be effective at reducing the risk of death and staving off comorbidities commonly associated with disabilities. Roughly 4 in 10 physicians talk to their patients about the importance of exercise, but don’t always discuss how to become more physically active. Research by the American College of Sports Medicine indicates that 65% of patients would be involved in exercise if they were advised by their doctors and given more resources and instruction on starting a program. But it shouldn’t be up to doctors to tell us to exercise.

Here are a few reasons why you need more physical activity:

• Reduce mortality & risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 40%.

• Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.

• Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by almost 40%.

• Reduce the incidence of heart disease and hypertension by 40%.

• Lower the risk of stroke by 27%.

• Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%.

• Twice as effective in treating type II diabetes as the standard insulin prescription and can save $2,250 per person per year when compared to the cost of standard drug treatments.

• Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy at much lower cost.

Next month I will discuss how to actually start your exercise plan.

Jerry Husted is a Personal Trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine with specializations in Fitness Nutrition and Corrective Exercise. He is also certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as an Inclusive Fitness Trainer and focuses on helping people with disabilities improve the quality of their lives. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the community. His involvement in the community focuses on the rights, issues, and concerns of people with disabilities and their families.  He can be reached at 505.459.9013, jerry@adaptabilityfitness.com.

Summary of The ABLE Act

 Compiled by The Arc National Office

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act Division B of Public Law 113-295, December 19, 2014

OVERVIEW
The Stephen Beck, Jr.*, Achieving a Better Life Experience Act1 (ABLE) Act was signed into law on December 19, 2014 after many years of advocacy and bipartisan work in both the House and Senate. The law allows eligible individuals with disabilities the ability to establish “ABLE accounts'' for qualified beneficiaries that resemble the qualified tuition programs, often called “529 accounts'', that have been established under that section of the tax code since 1996. The new ABLE accounts will allow more individual choice and control over spending on qualified disability expenses and limited investment decisions, while protecting eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other important federal benefits for people with disabilities. Without these accounts, many people with disabilities have very limited avenues to save and allow for further independence.

A Form of 529 Account: The ABLE Act creates a new Section 529A establishing new taxfavored Qualified ABLE Programs in the Internal Revenue Code. The ABLE Program accounts are intended to be easy to open and available in any state, although each state will need to take action to make the accounts available to its residents. Assets in an ABLE account and distributions from the account for qualifying expenses would be disregarded or receive special treatment when determining the beneficiary's eligibility for most federal means-tested
benefits.

Key Characteristics of ABLE Accounts:
· An eligible individual may have one ABLE account, which must be established in the state in which he resides (or in a state that provides ABLE account services for his home state).
· Any person, such as a family member, friend, or the person with a disability, may contribute to an ABLE account for an eligible beneficiary.
· An ABLE account may not receive annual contributions exceeding the annual gift-tax exemption ($14,000 in 2015). A state must also ensure that aggregate contributions to an ABLE account do not exceed the state-based limits for 529 accounts.
· Eligibility – An eligible individual is a person (1) who is entitled to benefits on the basis of disability or blindness under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or under the Social Security disability, retirement, and survivors program OR (2) who submits certification that meets the criteria for a disability certification (to be further defined in regulations). An eligible individual’s disability must have occurred before
the age 26.
· Designated Beneficiary – The eligible individual who established the ABLE account and who is the owner of the account is the “designated beneficiary”.
· Qualified disability expenses are any expenses made for the benefit of the designated beneficiary and related to his/her disability, including: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses, and other expenses, which are approved by the Secretary of the Treasury under regulations.
· Tax treatment – Earnings on an ABLE account and distributions from the account for qualified disability expenses do not count as taxable income of the contributor or the eligible beneficiary. Contributions to an ABLE account must be made in cash from the contributor's after-tax income.
· Roll-Overs – Assets in an ABLE account may be rolled over without penalty into another ABLE account for either the designated beneficiary (for instance, when moving to another state) or any of the beneficiary's qualifying family members.

Federal Treatment of ABLE Account Under Means-Tested Programs, Including Supplemental Security Income & Medicaid:
· Means-Tested Programs generally – Assets in an ABLE account and distributions from the account for qualified disability expenses would be disregarded when determining the designated beneficiary's eligibility for most federal means-tested benefits.
· Supplemental Security Income (SSI): For SSI, only the first $100,000 in an ABLE account will be disregarded. Assets above $100,000 will count as resources under SSI. In addition, if the designated beneficiary’s ABLE account balance exceeds $100,000, the individual's SSI benefits will not be terminated, but instead will be suspended until such time as the individual's resources fall below $100,000. Further, it is intended that distributions expended for housing purposes will receive the same treatment which all housing costs paid by outside sources receive.
· Medicaid Eligibility: A beneficiary will not lose eligibility for Medicaid based on the assets held in their ABLE account, even during the time that SSI benefits are suspended (as described above for an account with over $100,000).
· Medicaid Payback Provision: Subject to certain limits and upon the state’s filing of a claim for payment, any assets remaining in an ABLE account upon the death of the qualified beneficiary must be used to reimburse the state for Medicaid payments it made on behalf of the beneficiary. The amount of any Medicaid payback is calculated based on amounts paid by Medicaid after the creation of the ABLE Account and shall exclude amounts paid by the beneficiary as premiums to a Medicaid buy-in program.

How Soon Will ABLE Accounts Be Available?
· Federal Regulations: The Secretary of the Treasury is required to issue regulations or other necessary guidance within six months of enactment of the law, which would require such regulations and/or guidance to be available by mid-June 2015.
· State Decisions: Each state will need to decide whether to offer a qualified ABLE program to its residents, and, if so, the state will need to decide whether the program will be state-run; whether to select another entity, such as a financial services firm, to run the program; or whether to contract with another state to allow its own residents to use the qualified ABLE program of another state.

*After Stephen Beck’s death in December 2014, the law was named to honor him, a parent from northern Virginia who helped conceive and develop the ABLE Act and who worked tirelessly for its passage.

For more information about the ABLE Act: info@thearc.org