[NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation

Coccovizzo,Linda A Linda.Coccovizzo at MCCKC.EDU
Wed May 23 19:22:18 UTC 2018

It's frustrating, because the rules for blind pension aren't always easy to find, and they are somewhat vague. I think part of the idea behind creating this bill was to take some of that vagueness out of the rules. However, for me, it really created more questions than answers. I read the final bill, but as far as I know, there really isn't anything that describes a household when it comes to the poverty level. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but the wording seems to give FSD the ability to choose whether they want to count all of the members of the family, or just the spouse and the recipient. Also, there is that part that leaves things open for them to interpret the numbers as they wish, with no reprocussions, because the bill says they can. And then, is it $20,000, or $30,000 that is allowed for property. It should be one or the other, but the way it reads, decisions can be made on an individual basis, and that doesn't make sense to me. It was FSD who took the fraudulent applications and approved them. It is also FSD who brought this bill to the house. It isn't our fault that they allowed people with drivers licenses to slip through the cracks, or those who have more vision than the rules allow. It also wasn't our fault that the funds were mishandled so many years ago.

When I met with my legislators, I made sure to mention the things about the bill that I agreed with. Of course people who are blind enough to be eligible to receive blind pension shouldn't have drivers licenses, and if they receive the blind pension, they have definitely been considered blind enough not to be able to drive. That should be obvious enough not to have to put it into a bill, but apparently it wasn't. I like the fact that recipients can have ABLE accounts up to $100,000. That puts Missouri's blind up to speed with disabled Missourians who receive benefits. I find it interesting that the ABLE accounts for blind pension recipients was at one time a separate billfor 2018, and was then rolled into this bill. Kind of a double-edge. The increase in property allowance is good, but again, I'm unsure whether $20,000 or 30,000 is allowed.
Do recipients assume it's $30,000, and then find out they were over the limit when it's too late?

-----Original Message-----
From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Gene Coulter via NFBMO
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:28 PM
To: 'NFB of Missouri Mailing List' <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Cc: GeneCoulter at Charter.net
Subject: Re: [NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation

Increases, if they happen, occur annually in July with letters being sent out in mid-June.  These letters should be kept , at least, until the next letter adjusting  your benefit amount is received so that you have proof of income for loan applications or other purposes. 
To Brian's prior query  if you submit a driver's license as proof of identity under the new law they will reject or close your case.
Evidently FSD can look up driver's license records to determine whether you have a non-driver's license or driver's license or both if they suspect fraud. 

-----Original Message-----
From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Julie McGinnity via NFBMO
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 12:54 AM
To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Julie McGinnity <kaybaycar at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation

How often do they change the amount of blind pension?

I agree with Randy that the problem is we have laws no one takes the time to enforce.  It's the same with the service animal laws we have put in place.  Businesses don't know their rights, so we have fake service animals all over the place.  But yeah, we were talking about blind pension...  Even before we practice our little elevator speeches, we need to figure out what we would like to say.

I had to educate myself quickly about blind pension and fear I still don't know everything.  It seems to me that we should all be on the same page regarding what we want to protect and what we can let go.  I think the driver's license rule is a little overkill, but their sighted spouse requirements seem to, like Gary said, prevent integration or promulgate the idea that our sighted spouses (but not our blind ones) can take care of us.  What's clear to me is that blind/disabled people don't write these laws or design the systems that many of us live on.  There's something wrong with that.  Ok, so we don't hold the purse strings as it were, but we are citizens who should not be punished for being disabled.
SSI discourages people from saving, unless you want to save for something very specific.  And now we're talking marriage and the disadvantages to marrying as blind or blind and sighted couples...  It seems to me that we should be discussing these things more often and coming up with those elevator speeches Gary mentioned.  We can't change these things unless we have a collective voice.


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On 5/22/18, Gary Wunder via NFBMO <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> I think there are significant philosophical implications we should 
> think about with regard to the blind pension and especially the 
> changes. If you are a blind person who cannot work, your situation is 
> made even more desperate in your family by the fact that to that 
> family unit you are a taker rather than a giver. I believe in 
> marriage, and I think most Missourians do as well. But the fact of the

> matter is that it has been clearly demonstrated with seniors and
> others: if you put me at an economic hardship, I will stay married in 
> the eyes of God, but I may seriously consider the legal arrangement 
> that says I'm married. Ask recipients of SSI.
> Ask recipients of pensions that say they are entitled until they
> Under the blind pension law, as it exists now and as it exists when 
> the governor signs it, sighted people are placed at a economic 
> disadvantage when marrying blind people. Blind people are placed at 
> risk by marrying sighted people. This is not the kind of integration I

> want. I'm glad that the earnings of blind people remain exempt, but I 
> can't say there is any fairness in this, and as for the dignity of 
> blind people, I think it is considered not at all in the law and in 
> this legislation.
> I think that we better be preparing arguments about keeping the 
> medical benefits that blind people receive. That issue appears to have

> gone away, but it was not terribly unpopular when it was proposed. We 
> need to work on language that is persuasive and concise. Very often 
> when people speak of spin, they do so in a negative context, but spin 
> can be very effective and it has a purpose. When you deal with busy 
> people, you better be able to state your issue clearly and concisely.
> They don't have all day to listen to your concerns. The spin must be 
> honest, but we should figure out how to positively get that message 
> out in a form that is easily repeatable, easily understood, and 
> completely verifiable. Our credibility is everything. If we can't 
> figure out ways to communicate our message in an elevator speech, we 
> are headed for the basement.
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Julie A. McGinnity
President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division, Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri "For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7

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