Social Security Proposes Update To SSI Calculation

by Michelle Diament | August 29, 2023
Sign on door of Social Security office

The Social Security Administration is proposing a change to the way it treats rental subsidies for Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. (Disability Scoop)

The Social Security Administration uses a different standard to determine Supplemental Security Income benefits for people living in certain states. Now, the agency wants to update its rules to treat beneficiaries nationwide more equitably.

The agency is proposing a new rule to modify how it alters benefit payments for those who receive what’s known as “in-kind support and maintenance” in the form of a rental subsidy.

Under current rules, SSI benefits are reduced if a person is paying rent or shelter expenses that are lower than the current market value, or what they would pay on the open market. This is significant in cases where a person with a disability is renting from a family member, for example, who charges them a reduced rate.

But, due to court rulings, the agency uses a less stringent standard in seven states — Connecticut, New York, Vermont, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas. In these states, benefits are not reduced if a person is spending more than a third of their income on housing even if their rent is less than the current market value.

The proposed rule published this month in the Federal Register seeks to expand the more lenient standard already in place in seven states to the entire country.

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Federal Register link if you would like to make a comment or read the details, see


Learning Community via Zoom (Oct 18, 2023)

Learning Community via Zoom on Oct 18, at 7pm. ASL and CC available. RSVP or for more info at

About this online Learning Community event:
To learn a language—be it aural or sign—children must have exposure to language that is rich in quantity and quality. Language nutrition emphasizes the importance of parents, other family members, and educators to talk, interact, read, and engage with their children. This is important for all children, but it is critical for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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Educators highlight need for deaf instructors, ASL interpreters

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — and students who want to learn American Sign Language — has come a long way in the last few decades, but instructors and administrators think we have still have a long way to go.

In 1986, about 1% of high schools in the country offered ASL classes as a foreign language credit. An effort in the 1990s and early 2000s to create academic guidelines for ASL, using deaf instructors and ASL-trained teachers, has made a huge difference.

As Mark Thomas, the principal of Northview High School, explained, ASL is now the second most popular foreign language among students in his district.

There are more than 225 students in Kent County who are deaf and/or hard of hearing, according to Paul Dymowski, director of center programs and services for Kent Intermediate School District. Northview High School serves a diverse cohort of deaf students, and it’s also a hub for Kent ISD’s Total Communication Program.

According to Dymowski, Kent ISD offers two main programs: the Total Communication Program, which focuses on ASL, and the Oral Deaf Program, which focuses on listening and language skills.

Thomas acknowledged the value of these courses but told News 8 of the formidable challenge of securing qualified instructors. He described it as akin to “finding a doctor or a nurse in a certain specific type of medicine.”

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US employment commission sues UPS, alleging discrimination against deaf driver candidates

UPS logo

Sept 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Friday said it sued United Parcel Service (UPS.N) for disability discrimination, alleging the delivery firm refused to hire deaf or hearing-impaired individuals as drivers.

The agency said the Department of Transportation (DOT) has authorized the practice of employing those individuals to drive vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds through a program that exempts them from a hearing test and instead uses alternative criteria to ensure an equivalent level of driver safety.

Atlanta-based UPS said it is modifying driver training for those who are deaf and hard of hearing and would start accepting exemptions to the DOT commercial driver hearing standard for operators of its ubiquitous brown delivery trucks in January 2024.

UPS said training is necessary because “current regulations do not consider best practices for driving larger commercial vehicles that make frequent stops in residential neighborhoods, or other significant factors UPS considers as it works to help keep its drivers and communities safe.”

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Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin has hired 60 deaf employees (Germany)

Tesla Gigafactory in Berlin

Tesla’s factory in Grünheide, Germany officially opened last year, and the site has since accumulated around 11,000 workers. According to a new post from Tesla’s Recruiting account on X, the automaker has also hired as many as 60 deaf people to work at the Gigafactory outside of Berlin.

The Brandenburg Gigafactory has so far hired 60 deaf employees, many of whom are Ukrainians who fled the ongoing Russian invasion, according to the new Tesla Recruiting account on X in a post on Sunday. The post includes a video introducing viewers to a few of the factory’s deaf employees, including Amaliia, Ihor and Andrii.

The video also includes excerpts from some of the non-deaf employees about their experiences having deaf coworkers on the team.

“We don’t just talk about inclusion and diversity, we simply live it,” says general assembly supervisor Holger in the video. “For me there are no employees with disabilities, they are simply employees.”

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In A First, Deaf Lawyer Argues Supreme Court Case In Sign Language (India)

Deaf lawyer Sara Sunny argued a case using an interpreter in the Supreme Court

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court for the first time heard a case argued by a deaf lawyer via an interpreter using sign language.

The control room that managed virtual proceedings had declined to give screen space to Sara Sunny. Soon, her interpreter Saurabh Roy Choudhary appeared on the screen when the turn for their hearing came and Mr Choudhary started his arguments before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, reading from the sign language that Ms Sunny gave.

Chief Justice Chandrachud then instructed the control room and the interpreter to give screen space to Ms Sunny. After this, both appeared on the screen and made their arguments before the Supreme Court.

Ms Sunny’s appearance was arranged by advocate-on-record Sanchita Ain.

Chief Justice Chandrachud has been calling for ensuring equal access to justice. Last year, he ordered a detailed accessibility audit of the Supreme Court complex to make the justice system more accessible and to understand the challenges faced by differently abled people when they come to the court.

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How to Train a Deaf Dog

Dog training, photo by Gary Yeowell and Getty Images

Deaf dogs can make great pets. They adapt to their hearing loss quite well because a dog’s primary sources of communication are body language and scent. You might notice that when two dogs greet each other, they communicate all kinds of signals to each other without using any sound.

While barking and growling are additional ways dogs send messages, they aren’t their primary method. So in training, too, verbal language isn’t necessary. In fact, dogs pay more attention to cues in our body language and facial expressions than to what we are saying to them.

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Deafness ‘falls between the cracks’ of insurance DEI

James Bruner, courtesy by Insurance News

Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are a talent pool that few insurance companies actively dip into. But one program is looking to change that.

The Maguire Academy of Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) at Gallaudet University has produced 46 graduates since it started in 2015.

Thanks to strong partnerships with national companies like Philadelphia Insurance Companies, The Hartford, Selective, Gallagher, and Marsh, Gallaudet’s RMI program has been able to plant its graduates in different insurance career paths. Many now work as underwriters, retail and surplus lines brokers, analysts, and claims professionals.

As the program grows, it needs to partner with more insurance organizations to provide opportunities to its graduates, according to James Bruner (pictured top), executive director at Gallaudet’s RMI program.

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Big Brother slammed over “ridiculous” lack of support for deaf Season 25 contestant

Matt Klotz on the Big Brother show

Big Brother is back with Season 25. And while it has been exciting from the very beginning, the production is still falling short. Specifically, with one contestant.

Matt Klotz is one of the contestants and the only deaf person in this season’s cast. The show is supposed to be accommodating to his disability. 

Instead, he is being forced to rely on his hearing aids to understand each challenge and the other houseguests. And rightfully so, fans are not happy with this at all.

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