May, 1998 Meeting Notes

by Fredson T. Bowers, Jr.

The meeting was held on Saturday, May 30 at the United Parish Church of Auburndale with approximately 50 members and guests present. Announcements included one concerning Dr. Lauro Halsteadís new book which will be available shortly from the Association. Also, there was a call for volunteers to help out with committees as well as the position of Literature Coordinator for meetings.

The panel of speakers was then introduced as follows:

Jim Dougan told us that there are twelve centers throughout Massachusetts which help people to obtain the services they need in order to continue living independently. Training is offered in a wide variety of daily living activities including financial, legal and transportation. Access issues are also addressed, especially technical assistance to businesses, and a list of accessible apartments is maintained.

Maria Steele presented a wealth of information about Social Security including retirement, disability and SSI (supplemental) benefits. To qualify for disability benefits an individual must be disabled for at least twelve months, and benefits are the same as for retirement at age 65. Application may be made in person. One can also apply by telephone, in which case information is entered on an application and sent to the applicant to complete and return along with medical evidence. If benefits are denied, Maria recommended an appeal since 50% of the decisions are reversed on appeal.

Bob Tarantino then spoke about the Registryís Compliance Department which issues handicapped plates and placards. The benefits of plates and placards are exactly the same, including free parking at meters, but the automobile excise tax still needs to be paid. However, excise and sales taxes are waived for serious disabilities such as the loss of two or more limbs. Van accessible spaces, which are wider, are not reserved exclusively for vans.

There were many questions, both during and after the presentations. Refreshments and socializing completed the afternoon. Many thanks to our panelists, to Anne and Vinnie Harpin, Jack Memishian, Steve Anderson and to all who helped out at the meeting.

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