January 31, 2013

National Down Syndrome Congress

Governmental Affairs Newsline 

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In This Issue
SSA Drops the Term Mental Retardation
FMLA Can Be Used to Care for Adults with Disabilities
Equal Access to Extracurricular Sporits
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NDSC Day on the Hill   

The Social Security Administration Drops the Term "Mental Retardation"


The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking stating that it will drop the term "mental retardation" and start using "intellectual disability" in its official Listing of Impairments.


This change is prompted by Rosa's Law, enacted in 2010 to end the use of the term "mental retardation" and substitute it with "intellectual disability" in federal health, education, and labor policy statutes. However, the legislation did not cover programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The Social Security Administration's actions are a welcome result of the success of Rosa's Law.

If you or your local parent organization wishes to submit a comment on the proposed rule, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at:
http://www.regulations.gov and search for docket number SSA-2012-0066. Your comment can be a simple one, such as: "As the parent of a son/daughter with Down syndrome, I congratulate the Social Security Administration for their efforts to substitute the outmoded term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability."

Department of Labor says Family Medical Leave can be used to Care for Adult Children with Disabilities 

The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has issued a clarification of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), stating that the age of a son or daughter at the onset of a disability is not relevant in determining a parent's entitlement to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Therefore, a parent is entitled to take FMLA leave to care for a son or daughter 18 years of age or older, if the adult son or daughter has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, is incapable of self-care due to that disability, has a serious health condition, and is in need of care due to the serious health condition.


This guidance is useful to parents who have been reluctant to care for a son or daughter with a disability who has a health crisis or needs that would keep a parent from working in the short term.


You can read the full Administrator's Interpretation No. 2013-1 here: http://www.dol.gov/WHD/opinion/adminIntrprtn/FMLA/2013/FMLAAI2013_1.htm 

Schools Must Provide Students with Disabilities Equal Access to Extracurricular Sports

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance on the legal responsibilities of school districts to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. The letter urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities, and provides examples of types of reasonable accommodations schools may need to make. Students with disabilities have the right, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to an equal opportunity to participate in their schools' extracurricular activities.

If you have questions, contact susan@ndsccenter.org