During the COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities still have the right to live, work, play and learn together without facing discrimination. The Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities has been defending these rights as we work to advance social and policy change in response to COVID-19.
In order to educate and inform our community about the impact of the coronavirus, OCDD has created a COVID-19 Toolkit to provide resources for Oregonians with developmental disabilities and their families.
As we begin the process of reopening and building a safe and strong Oregon, it is important to come together and be smart and thoughtful to our fellow Oregonians. Reopening any part of our state comes with risk. We ask you to please visit Oregon.gov for the most accurate and up-to-date information about safety measures in your local community: https://govstatus.egov.com/reopening-oregon.
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Below you will find a list of accessible resources and materials to help you stay informed and support you in advocating for your rights or the rights of your family members during this time. This list includes regional, state-wide and national information regarding the pandemic of COVID-19 from trusted sources. We will continue to update this page as more resources become available.
Thanks to the Green Mountain Self-Advocates for putting together “A Self-Advocate’s Guide to COVID-19,” which offers helpful basic COVID-19 information by and for people with disabilities. You can view Part 1 in 11 different languages at https://selfadvocacyinfo.org/resource/plain-language-information-on-covid-19/.
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is a new illness spreading across the world.
- It is often called the coronavirus.
- Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) has created a video to explain COVID-19 for those with disabilities and their families.
- This video called “COVID-19 and You: A guide for people with disabilities” was created by our partners at OHSU’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) to provide general information about COVID-19 for people with disabilities.
- This video from the Oregon Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) in English and Spanish offers helpful information on the “Stay Home, Save Lives” order.
Wash your hands.
- Use lots of soap and water.
- Wash for at least 20 seconds. If it helps, count to 20.
- Wash after using the bathroom or being in public (like going to a store).
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Know that washing well with soap and water is still better.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow stops germs from going into the air and onto your hands.
Try not to touch your face.
- Do not rub your eyes.
- Do not touch your mouth.
- Do not touch your nose.
Wear a mask.
- Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when near people. This doesn’t just keep you safe but also those around you.
- Masks, face shields and face coverings are currently required statewide for indoor public spaces (for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, personal services providers, restaurants, bars, retails stores and more). In addition, face coverings are required in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing is not possible. For more mask information, visit: https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-face-coverings
- DRO has created a “Know Your Rights: Mask Wearing and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Maintain physical distancing.
- Stay 6 feet apart from other people.
How can I build a plan for my health in case I get sick or a family member gets sick?
It is important to make sure you have a plan in place before you get sick. Now is a good time to begin planning, before you or a family member gets sick.
It is important to ask yourself a few questions to help prepare:
- Are you signed up for emergency warnings in your county? Do you know how to do that?
- Do you know which phone numbers to call if you feel sick?
- Have you identified people in the community who may provide you with support if you need it? Do you know their contact information?
Below are some resources that can help:
- Independence Northwest has created a webpage called “If You Get Sick, What Do Nurses and Doctors Need to Know to Communicate Best with You?”
- Do you or your family member need help with communication? The Hospital Communication Book offers useful information to help improve communication at the hospital and pages of pictures you can use to help you communicate.
Do you need access to food?
- Since the extra $600 a week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expired in July, we’ve seen a sharp increase in Oregonians applying for food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- SNAP benefits don’t always cover every Oregonian’s nutritional needs for a full month so it’s important we help our neighbors know where they can go for help. Our needfood.oregon.gov website is a valuable resource with information in multiple languages and an outreach toolkit to help us raise awareness. This website provides information about meals available from schools and food pantries, how to access Meals on Wheels and more.
Check it out and help us spread the word!
Know Your Rights
Even in times of crisis, you still have rights. If you feel you are being discriminated against, or you have been denied the help you need during the crisis, please contact Disability Rights Oregon (DRO). Thanks for DRO for offering the following resources and helpful information about your legal rights during the COVID-19 public health crisis:
COVID-19 and Your Right to Medical Treatment
You cannot be treated differently because of your disability. Don’t forget your rights:
- You have the right to get the treatment that you need.
- You can go to a doctor, a clinic, or a hospital just like anybody else.
- No one can treat you differently just because you have a disability.
- Hospitals and clinics must provide you the medical treatment that you need.
- Read Oregon Health Authority’s Guidance on Non-Discrimination in Medical Treatment for COVID-19
Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) Can Help You If:
- You have questions about your legal rights during an outbreak.
- Are seeing information that is not accessible from other agencies.
- Feel you are experiencing an extra layer of disability discrimination during this time.
- Being denied healthcare because you are a person with a disability.
DRO can talk to you about your questions, determine how they can help, and get you the information that you need.
Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) has sent out additional resources about your rights including “COVID-19 Guidance on Screening and Visitation at Acute Health Care Facilities” and Lilia Teninty, the Director of ODDS has sent out a letter regarding medical rights.
For assistance, please contact Disability Rights Oregon confidential intake line at 503-243-2081 or 1-800-452-1694 between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
You can also write DRO a letter. Their address is:
Disability Rights Oregon
511 SW 10th Avenue, Suite 200
Portland, Oregon 97205
Your Right to Supports at the Hospital
You can bring a family member or other helper with you to the hospital, unless they are also sick.
- Hospitals must offer visitation policies to allow care givers who help you communicate or help out with other activities that hospital staff lack the expertise or time to provide.
- Read the Oregon Health Authority’s Guidance on Entry into Hospitals and Other Acute Health Care Facilities (Revised June 8, 2020).
Oregon Legislature Unanimously Approves SB 1606
In July, 2020, the Oregon Statue Legislature approved legislation to Guarantee People with Disabilities Access to Families and Support Staff while in the Hospital. Two main parts of the bill ensure that:
- Hospitals in Oregon must allow a patient with a disability to designate at least three support persons
- You get to decide what medical care you get. You don’t have to sign forms about your end of life care to access healthcare.
You can ask family member or friends to help you make decisions.
- Some people have a guardian, family, friend, or a person who’s been appointed their power of attorney help them make health care decisions.
- Talk with people you trust before you get sick.
- It is important to also talk about what you don’t want.
You can ask for hospitals, doctors, or clients to change their policies to accommodate your disability.
- You can fill out an accommodations request form to bring with you to the hospital. Show the form to everyone and make sure a copy is put in your medical chart.
If you have concerns about these rights, please call DRO for help at 503-243-2081 and ask to schedule an intake appointment.
- Build a plan for who to talk to if things go wrong
- How to report abuse
- Helpline by local area (links and phone numbers)
Many temporary emergency policies ODDS has issued related to COVID-19 will remain in place throughout Phase One reopening. Learn about these policies on the ODDS COVID-19 web page. Here are some additional resources about accessing DD services:
- ODDS has issued a Reopening Guidance Fact Sheet for individuals and families, which has been translated into eight languages and is available on their COVID-19 web page.
- ODDS has a new Powtoon animated video on reopening.
- Here is also a sample tool for supporting people to make decisions about returning to work and activities.
- ODDS has a fact sheet available on Assistive Technology Policy Change During COVID-19.
- Lastly, here is how to get personal protective equipment for people with I/DD and those who support them: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/DD/ODDS%20Resource%20Library/COVID-PPE-ODDS-Infographic.pdf
All ODDS COVID-19 policy changes also remain in effect during Phase One reopening, including, but not limited to:
- Visitation restrictions in 24-hour group homes and adult I/DD foster homes
- Requirements that providers report all suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases to ODDS and their local public health agency.
- Requirement that agency staff, including Direct Support Professionals and Employment Specialists, wear a mask or face covering when providing direct care to a person.
- Closure of Day Support Activity and Employment Path Facility sites that congregate people for non-essential work or recreation.
- Case Management-related activities should continue to be done remotely, except when in-person contact is needed to ensure health and safety. Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment must be worn for in-person contact.
- People with I/DD can continue to go out for essential activities, such as work, grocery shopping and medical appointments, and outdoor activities and recreation with appropriate physical distancing and safety precautions.
For additional COVID-19 policy information and resources from ODDS, go to: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/DD/Pages/ODDS-COVID-19-Information.aspx.
You can learn more about Phase 2 reopening guidance from ODDS here: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/DD/DirectorMessages/DD-Director-Phase-2-Reopening.pdf
COVID-19 Stimulus Payments and ABLE Accounts
What is the stimulus payment I am receiving?
The government is giving people a stimulus payment of $1,200. They can spend it any way they want. The stimulus payment is meant to help our country’s struggling businesses and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are already getting monthly Social Security benefits you will get the stimulus payment the same way. The stimulus payment MUST be spent within 12 months. Otherwise, it will count as an asset and could reduce your benefits. Many people have already received their stimulus payments.
Beware of scams! The IRS will not call or email you about the stimulus payment. Do not share your personal information on the phone or over email.
Can I deposit the stimulus payment into an ABLE Account?
Yes! You can put all or part of your stimulus payment into an ABLE account. That way, you don’t have to worry about spending the money right away if you don’t need to. Putting the payment in an ABLE account can give you flexibility. Plus, it will have the same benefits protection that the other money in your ABLE account has.
Why should I consider putting some, or all, of this payment into an ABLE account?
An ABLE account can help you save for things that are not covered by benefits. If you don’t need to use the stimulus payment for things right now, you could use it to start saving. You can save for whatever you need to be independent and participate in your community. That includes adaptive equipment, a vehicle, a home, assistive technology, personal support services, and many other expenses. You can also use an ABLE account to save for emergencies.
Do I have to use the stimulus payment the same way that I use my SSI benefit money?
The stimulus payment is NOT a payment from Social Security. You do not have to follow Social Security rules when you spend it. Your stimulus payment can be used in any way you choose. You could use your payment now. You could spend it within 12 months. You could save it in an ABLE account to give your more time to spend it while preserving your benefits.
Will the stimulus payment disqualify me from the benefits I need?
Not for 12 months. After a year, whatever is left will count toward your $2,000 SSI asset limit if you leave it in a regular account. If you save it in an ABLE account, it won’t count toward your $2,000 asset limit.
How does an ABLE account help me keep from exceeding my $2,000 asset limit?
Funds in your ABLE account are not counted toward your $2,000 asset limit. You will not lose your benefits or lose eligibility for federal benefits (like SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and HUD) by owning an ABLE account. You can save up to $100,000 in your ABLE account and still receive your monthly SSI benefits.
Can other people help me decide how to spend the money or set up an ABLE account?
However, it is your decision how to spend the stimulus payment. Making financial decisions is hard for many people. People you trust can help you decide what to do with your money. This includes family, caregivers and others. They might also be able to help you set up an ABLE account.
What should my family, rep payee, service provider, and other trusted supporters do to help me decide what to do with the stimulus payment?
People who help you with your money need to be sure they do not put their needs or wishes ahead of yours. That includes when they help you with decisions about the stimulus payment. They should talk with you about your options, your needs and your wishes. Some people and their supporters might choose to use something called ‘supported financial decision-making practices’. This may help then when talking about the stimulus payments and the 12-month spending timeline. Some people may choose to save some of the money for later. An ABLE account is a way to save and still protect your benefits. A good place to start is to contact your state’s ABLE plan administrator.
Are there any other payments related to COVID-19 that I should be aware of?
If you were working and lost your job, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. The federal government is giving people who receive unemployment an extra $600 a week because of COVID-19 (ending July 31st, 2020).
Unemployment benefits are counted as unearned income for SSI. You must tell Social Security if you are receiving unemployment. This could affect your SSI or SSDI benefits.
You can save your unemployment benefits in an ABLE account so that they will not count as an asset in the future. Unemployment will still count as income when you receive it.
What are some additional resources if you have been laid off or lost your job?
- You can visit Oregon’s Employment Department’s webpage on “COVID-19 Related Layoffs, Closures, Unemployment.”
- Check out Oregon’s Employment Department’s COVID-19 Fact Sheet
- If you are an immigrant who lost work due to COVID-19 visit this webpage on OregonLawHelp.org
- Lastly, you can email Oregon’s Employment Departmant for COVID-19 Unemployment Questions: OED_COVID19_Info@oregon.gov
Do you need housing resources due to impacts resulting from COVID-19? Please contact the following partners for help:
- COVID-19 Eviction Moratorum – English
- MORATORIA DE DESALOJOS DURANTE COVID-19 – Spanish
- Visit 211info.org or call 2-1-1
- Rental Assistance – Network Contacts
- Get Help with Utilities: Oregon Public Utility Commission
- SNAP Benefits Online Application
- Oregon Food Bank Information
Where can I get more information about Stimulus payments?
“Economic Impact Payments.” https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.
Where can I find more information about ABLE Accounts?
Oregon Able Saving Plan at https://www.oregonablesavings.com
Where can I find more information about supported financial decision making?
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Your Money, Your Goals: Focus on People with Disabilities.” https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_ymyg_focus-on-people-with-disabilities.pdf
FACT Oregon has created toolkits to help guide you through what special education and Distance Learning might look like for your child and the importance of keeping a log or journal (with examples). Also included in these toolkits is a how-to for creating a parent input statement during distance learning.
You can also watch one of FACT Oregon’s Distance Learning webinar recordings: