Disability Policy News

April 20, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                 April 20, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 16

CDC COVID-19 image


Congress and the administration are responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways. It is important in the fast-moving decision process that the various relief and safety efforts meet the needs of people with disabilities. The latest congressional COVID-19 response addressed many of those needs, but more work is needed!

Congressional Efforts:



What it means for People with Disabilities

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

Became Law on
March 6, 2020

The bill requires that agencies "pay back" money that was moved from programs like NIDILRR and emergency heat funding when the crisis began. 

Families First Coronavirus
Response Act

Became law on March 19, 2020

Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. Increased paid leave. Enhanced Unemployment Insurance to people unable to work. Increased funding for food security programs.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act)



Became law on March 27, 2020

  • Allows state Medicaid programs to pay for direct support professionals to assist disabled individuals in the hospital
  • $13.5 billion available for formula grants to States, which will then distribute 90 percent of funds to local educational agencies to meet needs of all students, including students with disabilities
  • $85 million for Centers for Independent Living
  • $50 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers
  • Extension of Money Follows the Person and Spousal Impoverishment through November 30, 2020
  • Waives nutrition requirements for Older Americans Act (OAA) meal programs during the public health emergency related to COVID-19 to ensure seniors can get meals in case certain food options are not available

Package 4

Congress has begun to work on 

Your voices are needed to make sure the needs of people with disabilities are addressed!

What happened last week: 

  • Congress was on recess last week. Staff continue to work on Package 3.5 to address assistance to small businesses and health systems.
  • Congress will not yet be returning to the Capitol in person. They need to continue to hear from people about the needs for Package 4.

Plain Language:

  • Congress is working on bills to support people during COVID-19. They need to hear from you about the needs of people with disabilities.

What this means to you:

  • More than 105 million Americans - or about 4 in 10 adults - are at heightened risk if infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including older adults, people with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions. The front-line workers and family caregivers who support these individuals also face increased risks, requiring additional resources and supports to protect their health and well-being.

Action steps:

hospitalRationing of Care

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has resolved a complaint filed against the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) after PDH revised its Interim Pennsylvania Crisis Standards of Care for Pandemic Guidelines (CSC Guidelines) to ensure that persons will not be discriminated against based on disability if providers in the state were to begin triaging life-saving health care services. This is the second enforcement action OCR has taken since OCR issued a Bulletin reminding covered entities of the continued applicability of civil rights laws during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Plain Language:

  • If you are experiencing discrimination know that there is guidance and help to advocate.

What this means to you:

  • Stakeholders can use this in working with states and medical professionals in developing fair and non-discriminatory plans.

Action steps:

Department of Education logo

Department of Education

The Department of Education released the application form for Governors to get their share of the $3 billion in Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants under Section 18002 of the CARES Act (separate from the $13.5 billion that will flow to school districts under Section 18003). States can expect funds within three business days of submitting signed applications. The deadline for applications is June 1, but applications can be submitted before then. States are asked to incorporate equity into their spending around distance/on-line learning, including for students with disabilities. 

Plain Language:

  • States can now ask the federal government for money to help schools during the pandemic.

What this means to you:

  • Students with disabilities must be included in the application form. This is an opportunity to engage with your state officials.

Action Steps:

  • Contact your Governor or state emergency taskforce to ensure they are including the needs of students with disabilities in the application. Read AUCD's resource on funding coming to states.

logo of Social Secruity Administration

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration said that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive their Economic Impact Payments to their bank accounts through direct deposit,

Direct Express debit card, or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their SSI benefits. The Treasury Department says the payments should come no later than early May. SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to do anything to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. SSI recipients with qualifying children should use the 'Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here' web portal to enter basic information so they can receive their payments as quickly as possible.

Plain Language:

  • The federal government is working hard to make sure all people with disabilities can receive money during this hard time.

What this means to you:

  • The Social Security Administration will not consider Economic Impact Payments as income for SSI, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

Action Steps:

  • For SSI recipients who have qualifying children under age 17, go to IRS.gov and click on the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" button. The tool will request basic information to confirm eligibility, calculate, and send the Economic Impact Payments:
  • Full names and Social Security numbers, including for spouses and dependents
  • Mailing address
  • Bank account type, account and routing numbers

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

"It's interesting how a breakdown in a system can lead to a deeper understanding of that system." - Gyasi Burks-Abbott on this week's #AUCDPolicyTalk about disability in the time of corona #AutismAcceptanceMonth #WhatWeNeed #WeAreEssential https://bit.ly/3aegX1L

Action Steps:

AUCD logoLove Policy? We do too!

Check out AUCD's new policy resource, a one-page fact sheet to help explain AUCD's policy efforts, and engage with us today!


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

Tuesdays With Liz

Disability and the Arts with Riva Lehrer

2020 #AUCD4All Gala Awardee Riva Lehrer talks to Liz about disability visibility and the importance of representation.


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For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms