[Greater-Baltimore] Time to Contract Congress

nfbmd nfbmd at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 28 19:24:16 UTC 2020

Hello All,

Please read john Pare's message because we have two jobs to do with
Congress.  First, we must get more co-sponsors for the Access Technology
Affordability Act.  Maryland is doing a good job.  We only need Congressmen,
Brown, Harris and Hoyer.  All of the rest of the delegation is on board
because they have already co-sponsored.  


Second, we must contact our two Senators and each Congressman to ask them to
eliminate the waiting period for Medicare and SSDI benefits.  Let's get
started on these tasks ASAP.  Thanks, Sharon.  Read below:


Dear Fellow Federationists:


As President Riccobono mentioned in yesterday's Notebook, the Senate will be
returning to Washington on May 4 with the House of Representatives possibly
returning later in the month.


When they return, one of the first items on their agenda will most likely be
a fourth coronavirus relief package. Our goal is to have Congress include
the text of the Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA) and a provision
to eliminate the waiting periods for SSDI and Medicare in the next bill. 


There are two parts to this plan. For ATAA, the most effective way to have
it included in the bill is for you to call or email your representative and
two senators and ask them to cosponsor the ATAA (H.R. 2086/S. 815). More
cosponsors means more general support for the legislation, which gives it a
greater chance of being written into the bigger bill. We currently have 83
cosponsors in the House (H.R. 2086) and 22 cosponsors in the Senate (S.
815). These cosponsor counts are impressive, but we need even more
cosponsors to ensure it is included in the next coronavirus relief bill. A
complete list of current cosponsors is included at the end of this email. If
you notice your representative or senator's name on that list, then just
disregard the first paragraph of the below script when you call or email. 


Because we don't have any standalone legislation for the elimination of the
SSDI and Medicare waiting periods, we will have to let them know how
important this is, and how much it would benefit all blind Americans if it
were included in the bill. 


When you call or email, you might say the following:


"Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a constituent of
[REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR NAME]. I live in [CITY, STATE]. I would like to urge
[REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR NAME] to cosponsor the Access Technology
Affordability Act [H.R. 2086 in the House/S. 815 in the Senate]. This
legislation removes an employment barrier commonly experienced by blind
Americans who cannot afford the high cost of access technology by creating a
refundable tax credit in the amount of $2,000 to offset the cost of these
technologies. In the wake of the coronavirus an employment bill for blind
Americans is needed more than ever. 


I am also calling to urge [REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR NAME] to support language
that would waive waiting periods for SSDI payments and medicare benefits
during this national crisis. It's no secret many Americans are losing their
jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those with
disabilities. As it currently stands, persons with disabilities wait five
months before their SSDI benefits begin and 24 months before they are
Medicare-eligible. Please include language to temporarily waive these
waiting periods in the next coronavirus relief legislation. 




You can contact your member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard
and asking for the office in question. The number is 202-224-3121. If you
email your representative or senators, please copy John Pare at
jpare at nfb.org <mailto:jpare at nfb.org> . Your calls and emails do make a


It is best to call or email the relevant tax staffer in your member of
Congress's office. If you need the name and email of the appropriate staff
person for any Senate or House office, please email Jesa Medders at
jmedders at nfb.org <mailto:jmedders at nfb.org> .


We need both of these items more than ever. Not only do we need the ATAA to
help facilitate getting more blind Americans into the workforce, we also
need it to help us with independent living at home. Also, Americans with
disabilities who become eligible during the COVID-19 pandemic should not
have to wait 5 and 24 months to receive their SSDI and Medicare benefits.
While we are in favor of removing these waiting periods permanently, there
is no question that they should be eliminated during the pandemic.


I know most of you have written or called on these topics but I urge you to
email or call again.


This is our opportunity to improve employment possibilities for blind
Americans. This is our opportunity to make our voices heard. This is our
opportunity to help Americans with disabilities who have lost their jobs due
to COVID-19.


We must take this opportunity and we will succeed!


John Pare

National Federation of the Blind

410-659-9314, extension 2218



Sharon Maneki, Director of Legislation and Advocacy

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland



The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland knows that blindness is not
the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.


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