Friday, November 20, 2020

Katie Beckett Waiver to begin Monday

Program for children with disabilities who are not Medicaid eligible

By Alison Donald

The Katie Beckett waiver will bring home healthcare to many seriously disabled children in Tennessee on November 23, 2020 at 7:30am CST.  There have been some additions to the waiver since it was first introduced in the state of Tennessee a year ago.

“This is great news for so many Tennessee families and their advocates,” TennCare director Stephen Smith said. “Tennessee’s Katie Beckett Program is an innovative approach that will benefit children and families in need throughout our state, and we look forward to getting started.”

The Katie Beckett Program is a program for children with disabilities and complex medical needs who are not currently Medicaid eligible because of their parent’s income or assets.  Tennessee’s Katie Beckett Program has two parts. Part A provides Medicaid services to children with the most significant disabilities or complex medical needs.  Part B is a Medicaid diversion program, which means children will not be enrolled in Medicaid, but will receive a capped package of supports of up to $10,000 annually to help meet his or her needs.

Plan A: Will serve up to 300 children with the most significant disabilities or complex medical needs. Children would receive full Medicaid benefits, which could include services like home health, private duty nursing, durable medical equipment and supplies, and occupational, physical and speech therapies, among other services.Children in Part A would also receive up to $15,000 a year in home and community- based services.These are non-medical services that help families care for children in their homes. Some of these services include respite, supportive home care, and home and vehicle modifications.

Plan B: Will serve up to 2,700 children with disabilities or complex medical needs. Children in Part B will not be enrolled in Medicaid. They would receive up to $10,000 a year in services for their child.

Families will have the flexibility to choose any or all of the following services within their budget:  premium assistance, a health-care savings type account, reimbursement for  services that would benefit the child but can’t be covered under a health-care savings account, self-directed respite and supportive home care services, or an array of services from a community-based provider

The new addition to the Katie Beckett waiver is Part C

Part C: All children who are already on Medicaid can keep their coverage if their parent’s income increases.  The child’s parents do not have to purchase private insurance and can move to Part A but they will not receive home and community based services.

The application process takes about an hour to complete.  All applicants will have to complete a DIDDs assessment. You will need the following information to complete the application and avoid delays in receipt of service.  Medical records, Child’s IQ, Individualized education Plan (IEP), and therapy notes.  This is not a complete list.  Additionally if your meets the requirements for Part A there will be a third party medical review.  

Woman activist

This program will also require each recipient to prove that their need for care remain the same during a recertification process. The Katie Beckett waiver is a Medicare program so each recipient will receive a letter if they do not qualify which will inform the parents how to file an appeal.

If you would like more information on the Katie Beckett Waiver and how to apply please visit to create an account. If you don’t have a computer, a DIDD case manager can help you complete the self-referral. To get help, call the DIDD office in your region: West Tennessee Regional Office: (866) 372-5709.

If you have any questions regarding the Katie Beckett waiver please contact the Memphis Center for Independent Living at 901-726-6404.  For the latest updates please visit our website and follow us on twitter:  @MemphisCIL.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Social Security Report can be completed online

 The Disability Update Report Can Now be Completed Online

The Disability Update Report is part of our Continuing Disability Review (CDR) process, which is required by law. We periodically review each case to determine if the beneficiary continues to meet the eligibility rules to receive disability benefits. We mail the Disability Update Report, or Form SSA-455, to disabled beneficiaries to obtain updated information about their medical conditions and recent treatments. They now also have the option to complete the SSA-455 online at

SSA is making it easier for people who receive Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments to submit their Disability Update Report - SSA Form 455 online.  This form is completed periodically by some beneficiaries for their Continuing Disability Review (CDR).  The law requires us to complete a CDR to determine if a beneficiary still has a disabling condition.

In addition to completing the form online, beneficiaries can still submit it by mail or over the phone with a representative by calling our customer service number at 1-800-772-1213.

The notices sent to beneficiaries this month explain that the online option is coming soon. Future mailed notices will provide information about the option to submit the form online. I encourage you to share this information with your members, colleagues, affiliates, and other interested parties.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

People with Disabilities and the Pandemic

By Allison Donald

Allison Donald

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread there have been measures put in place to improve outcomes for people living with disabilities. People with disabilities have experienced disproportionate impacts as a result of COVID-19 due to limitations and disruptions to access critical programs and services such as healthcare (including COVID-19 testing a treatment), transportation, employment, housing and sheltering, education, mental health and crisis counseling, technology, and communication.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to collaborate with federal agency partners and national disability stakeholder organizations to identify, monitor, and address concerns for people with disabilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FEMA has outlined the following best practices to assist people with disabilities in getting the proper services and supports during the pandemic and how organizations can provide accommodations in the areas of information and communication, healthcare technology, and testing.  -Medical students created a plain language illustrated guide on COVID-19 to help individuals with intellectual disabilities understand what COVID-19 is and what to do if a person is experiencing symptoms.-Although mobile applications may not be accessible to all people with disabilities, crowdsourced assistance mobile applications allow people who are blind or have low vision to shop without the help of store employees to identify products and read labels. Some smartphone apps can also read printed text aloud to identify products.

Some of the hardest hit areas during the pandemic have nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes.  FEMA has also provided guidance to address certain concerns about people with disabilities and the supports provided to them by their aids.-While instituting necessary precautions and limiting visitation, medical facilities should consider allowing caregivers to accompany patients with disabilities to provide support and assist with communication.

We are more reliant on technology now but for our consumers and other  People with disabilities may experience challenges navigating websites given that many eCommerce sites are not fully accessible.-Governments should ensure websites with emergency-related information are accessible to people with disabilities, by using captioned videos and alternative tags for images to increase readability by those who use screen readers and other assistive technologies. See the Department of Justice’s guidance on technical assistance on accessible technology.

The most critical part of the pandemic has to be access to testing and for people with disabilities it is imperative due to the the presence of underlying conditions. -People with disabilities may not be able to access COVID-19 testing sites which include, but are not limited to, community-based drive-through testing sites. Drive-through testing is especially inaccessible in urban areas, where fewer people have access to cars.

If you are in need of free Covid testing you can visit your local CVS, Walgreens, or Church Health Centers in Memphis.  MCIL is working to meet the need of our consumers by meeting virtually and keeping our community informed via phone about the resources and supports that are available at this time.

If you have any questions please visit for further guidance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Voting by mail

My Experience voting by mail 

Alison Donald

I have voted in person in every presidential election since 2000.  However, due to the Coronavirus I chose to vote via absentee ballot.  I must admit I was skeptical of the process, because it took some time for my ballot to arrive so I was worried that I was not going to have an opportunity to vote and it be counted.  I feel like it is important for me to document my experience as a first time absentee ballot voter for not only people with disabilities, but others who may have been nervous about the proposition of voting by mail.

First I requested the ballot by completing   I received my ballot on Saturday completed as instructed and mailed it back in the envelope provided to me by the Shelby County election commission.

Instructions for absentee Voting by mail mark the ballot using blue or black pen as shown.Fill in the oval. Do not use a red pen or a pencil. The ballot may say to use a black but either blue or black is fine.

Fold the ballot and seal it in the yellow ballot envelope.

Do not detach the flap. Leave the flap on the envelope and sign. 

Your ballot cannot be counted unless the envelope has been signed.Your signature affirms that you are eligible to vote in this election.(The ballot envelope may have a white sticker or only printed information). 

If someone has helped you vote, your helper and a witness must also sign in this section.Make sure that you sign the envelope that is personalized for you if there are multiple voters in the household. 

Placed the yellow ballot envelope in the white return envelope.

Place postage on the return envelope.One first class stamp is sufficient for this ballot. Mail the ballot.Please note that ballots must be mailed; they will not be counted if they are handed-delivered. Make sure you mail your ballot in time to arrive on or before Election Day.  Ballots received after Election Day cannot be counted.

I mailed my ballot but considering how the United States Postal Service has been backed up I was more than a little bit concerned.  However, it was easy to track the status of my ballot by visiting  

Enter your voter registration information and the last four digits of your social security number

It will take you to a screen where you will find the date your ballot request was received and the date that your ballot was received by the county.

This is important, because if you chose to vote by mail in Tennessee your ballot must be received by mail on or by Election Day if not your vote will not be counted.  The best way to get a timely answer is to email  You can also call 901-222-6800.

It was a simple process and I believe it allowed more people an opportunity to participate in this election cycle.  However, I did miss the experience of standing in line waiting listening to older people talk about their first time voting as I waited to cast my vote. 

Happy Election Day and Remember Every Vote Counts!