Central PA SCI Networking

August 15, 2007
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Spinal Cord Injury Support Group

Wednesday August 15, 2007

Attendance: Jase Hall, Ed and Liz Clabaugh and Nurse Deb, Brandon and Jack Danner, Moriana Cotelo, boyfriend Brian, and mother Dr. Ana Morena, Bob Lowe, Shelly White, Staff Nurse Claudia , Cindy Hulse R.N., Lamont and Jesse Swoytr, Centers for Independent Living Coordinator.

Guest Speaker: Mr. Lee Lippy from the Center for Disability Law and Policy who spoke about CAP - Client Assistance Program.

Mr. Lippy explained that CAP is an advocacy program established by Section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that helps individuals with disabilities get the services they need from programs fund under the Act. CAP gets between the program and the patient to help make sure that by law, the patient gets the funding they deserve.

Much of the discussion that followed dealt with OVR - Office of Vocational and Rehabilitation services. OVR is a state program that gets federal funding. CAP has tremendous power and is free of charge to the disabled person requiring services.

Step 1. Informal Administrative Review (IAR) - all parties meet and try to settle the problem through discussion. This process works about 80% of the time.

Step 2. Court Hearing - If the IAR does not reach an agreement, CAP will decide if court proceedings are pertinent and represent the client in a court hearing. All of the work that CAP does is in keeping with the laws of the Federal Disabilities ACT.

What followed was a spirited discussion of support group member stories about trying to navigate the OVR system and often being left confused, frustrated and without reimbursement for services. Many clients received different opinions from different OVR councelors which delayed their cases and sometimes led to loss of funding because the paperwork was not completed within the time frame of the law. This is where CAP can help. An important thing to remember - once you purchase the equipment, OVR can no longer reimburse you by law and there is nothing CAP can do to help!

Jack Danner brought up the problem that when your OVR counselor leaves and you are reassigned a new counselor (which frequently happens), your files are no longer accessible and the new OVR councilor must start from the beginning. Jackʼs advice is to keep a dated copy of all your emails and other correspondence in a file at home which can be zeroxed and handed to the new counselor. Federal law requires OVR councelors to have a Masters Degree. The work load is rough and the pay is low.

Title 1 from the ADA - Americans with Disabilities act deals with employment.

If an employer cannot afford the equipment to make the workplace handicap accessible, and your insurance wonʼt pay, then sometimes OVR will pay. Again, this cannot be retroactive.

For more information visit www.equalemployment.org or call CDAP at 1-888-367-2954.

We had 2 new members tonight, Bob Lowe, who was injured 10 years ago and has come back interested in becoming a peer mentor. Also Lamont is a first time SCI participant and he is 5 months out from his initial injury and making incredible progress. Thank you both for coming and sharing your stories and your advice to others.

The response to our speaker was very positive and several other people were interested in having speakers from:

- Office of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services

- The Center for Independent Living 1877 2liv well, Google cilcp

- Dr. Royer who is a psychologist working in the field of SCI

- Dr. Lupinachi from Health South Rehab

Other topics discussed were the need for psychological intervention during the inpatient phase of a SCI with follow up at 3 and 6 months and longer if necessary. With insurance cut backs these are the types of services that are deleted. Some patients had trouble getting a psych consult while in-patient.

On the bright side, Lamont told us that if you are on disability Goldʼs Gym will let you use their services for free. Itʼs worth a phone call if youʼre looking for a place to work out.

Minutes submitted by Nancy Ehrlich