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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

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A Win for Many SSI Recipients: Automatic Economic Impact Payments!

Last week we sent an alert about the Economic Impact Payments in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We noted that for many people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension, there was not a clear or easy process to receive economic impact payments. Commissioner Saul’s previous statement clarified that the Social Security Administration (SSA) was working with the Treasury Department to address questions regarding SSI recipients and other people who are not required to file taxes but do not receive SSA-1099s.

Yesterday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Treasury Department, and SSA announced that SSI recipients will automatically receive their payments. Payments will be received by the same method they usually receive their SSI benefits, and they should be received by early May. This is a big victory that will ensure millions of people can access much-needed payments to help during this crisis.

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CARES Act Signed Into Law

The President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S. 3548) into law. The House passed the CARES Act on Friday after it was passed by the Senate on Wednesday. Read the final bill (PDF).

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package. While the CARES Act did address some of the disability community’s needs, most of our priorities were not included. Disabled people are at disproportionate risk during this pandemic, and Congress must do more to ensure all future legislation addresses our needs.

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NCIL Annual Conference Update

We wanted to be in touch about NCIL’s Annual Conference on Independent Living. It has become clear that the COVID-19 epidemic is a long-term event, certain to impact the NCIL conference in a variety of ways. NCIL’s Annual Conference Subcommittee, staff, and governing board are gathering information and resources to sort out the best way for the coolest bunch of people with disabilities and independent living advocates to gather, share, learn from each other, and shake things up, even if that means gathering virtually or a significant delay in the event. We will withhold opening guestrooms and registration until we know more, but please stay tuned for more information. We will keep you posted as the situation develops.

Just know that we’re absolutely committed to an event that is safe and accessible to all.

Conference Logo: Evolution of our Revolution - 2020 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Graphic features a speech bubble and heart icon.

Invitation: National Disability Institute’s Listening Session on COVID-19 Impacts

Join National Disability Institute (NDI) and partnering organizations for a Listening Session to learn from individuals with disabilities, family members, disability service providers, and public agency leaders about the current impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. We will hear from staff from the Office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey, who is working on legislation to respond to the needs of the disability community.

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NCIL Update on COVID-19

As many of you know, NCIL’s staff is operating under a mandatory remote work policy through at least the end of March. Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other public health experts make it seem likely this is policy will be extended into April. NCIL staff is fully equipped for telework and our work will continue unabated. There are, however, a few things we want to highlight during our time away from our physical office.

  • Items mailed to NCIL’s office will not be received right away. While we have picked up our mail this week, items received in the next few days and weeks may not be received or processed right away.
  • We encourage everyone to use email as much as possible during this situation, especially related to items you may normally mail or fax to us. A list of NCIL staff email addresses is available on our website.
  • Call forwarding is in place and you can still call our office line to reach staff. Follow the prompts in the automated system to reach the staff person you want to talk to.
  • We are closely monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and continuing our work on all of NCIL’s projects, events, and policy priorities.

We will continue to keep you updated with more information as it is available. In the meantime, we have created a web page to collect information, resources, and opportunities regarding COVID-19. View it at ncil.org/covid-19.

An Update on COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, NCIL’s primary concern has been the health and safety of our community. NCIL has been closely following the situation and actively advocating for policy responses that support the specific needs of the disability community.

We recognize that we have a duty to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. We want Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) to have the tools and guidance they need to stay safe and continue to meet the needs of consumers in their communities. We want members of the disability community across the country to have access to information, resources, and services to stay healthy and safe. And we want our local, state, and federal governments to center the needs of the people most at risk for serious illness, including disabled / chronically ill people, older adults, people living in institutional settings, people experiencing homelessness, and people who are not given access to critical information about the COVID-19 outbreak. To that end, NCIL has taken the following steps:

  • We have instituted a mandatory remote work policy through at least the end of March;
  • We have requested guidance from the Independent Living Administration (ILA) for CILs and SILCs about continued operations and staffing, which they have assured us is forthcoming;
  • We are exploring a contingency plan for our Annual Conference in July, should that become necessary;
  • We are working closely with partners in and out of the disability community to propose, analyze, and fight for policy responses to address the needs of people with disabilities during this outbreak; and
  • We are closely following legislative, departmental, and other guidance, information, and resources that are released.

We also note that in communities across the country, there have been increasing incidents targeting the Asian American community. Asian Americans are being discriminated against and attacked, and Asian American businesses are seeing a significant decline in customers as a result of unfounded fear and discrimination. NCIL stands in solidarity with Asian and Asian American communities and condemns the racism and xenophobia they are facing. NCIL has joined over 100 other organizations in signing on to a letter to Congressional leadership asking that they call for unity and denounce the racism targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of COVID-19.

We will continue to keep you updated with more information as it is available. In the meantime, we have created a web page to collect information, resources, and opportunities regarding COVID-19. View it at ncil.org/covid-19.

Apply for NCIL’s 2020 Summer Policy Internship Program by Wednesday, April 1!

Each semester, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) hosts up to 2 internship positions at our office in Washington, DC. The Policy Internship Program provides real Washington policy experience to participants at a highly respected national organization. Interns gain valuable experience in the nation’s capital and build skills necessary to be ideal candidates for positions at NCIL, CILs, and other advocacy organizations around the country.

The NCIL Policy Internship Program is open to students and individuals pursuing a career in a field relevant to NCIL interests, particularly Independent Living and disability advocacy. Candidates must have a strong interest in disability rights and basic knowledge of the legislative process. Although not a requirement, preference shall be given to individuals with disabilities. The program lasts approximately 12 weeks, and interns are required to work at least 10-15 hours each week.

For more information about the NCIL Policy Internship program, visit ncil.org/jobs/ncilinternships. To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, and one letter of recommendation to Lindsay Baran at lindsay@ncil.org. To be considered for the summer internship program, your application must be received by Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

Walmart Partners with NCIL As Part of Commitment to Accessibility

Walmart is finding new and innovative ways to serve customers through Grocery Pickup and Delivery. Walmart is testing capabilities that are shaping the future of retail, such as exploring a few pilot projects with self-driving car companies to start understanding how customers, including customers with disabilities, can benefit from this fast approaching innovation. Through the pilots, Walmart seeks to learn how using self-driving vehicles to deliver fresh groceries to customers may help make the shopping experience with Walmart even better and more convenient for all customers. Walmart is developing partnerships with organizations like the National Council on Independent Living as part of their commitment to accessibility for all customers.

Walmart has also expanded voice ordering capabilities through Google Assistant and Siri. Walmart Voice Order is a service that gives customers the option to add items to their Walmart Online Grocery Cart by simply speaking to these devices. This innovation helps customers be able to order products more conveniently. The more a customer uses it, the more seamless the experience becomes, as the system learns from their purchase history information. For example, if a customer says, “add orange juice to my cart,” Walmart can add the specific orange juice the customer buys regularly using this service. Instead of saying “Great Value organic orange juice with no pulp,” they’ll simply say: “orange juice” and a personal shopper will add the right one.

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Free Webinar – The Census and the Disability Community: Get Ready to be Counted!

You are invited to join The Arc and the National Disability Rights Network for a webinar to discuss the 2020 Census and how it relates to the disability community. The webinar will begin with a 2020 Census overview along with a summary of why it matters. The webinar will also share the resources and materials for a successful Get out the Count (GOTC) effort.

Become a Disability Rights Defender! Give to NCIL Monthly

Dear NCIL Supporter,

Your support of NCIL means everything to us. Whether you’re a NCIL member, you’ve attended one of our trainings or conferences, you’ve donated to us – or all of the above! – you are a part of making our crucial work happen on Capitol Hill and beyond. Now there’s a new way to support NCIL, by giving monthly.

Your monthly gift, given automatically through your credit or debit card will allow us to have the funds to advocate every day for Independent Living, on and off the Hill, twelve months a year.

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