Introducing … the Hickman & Lowder Video Blog!

filmWe are excited to introduce our new Video Blog Series, which currently includes Elder Law Talks and Special Needs Insights hosted by our attorney David S. Banas. We will be sharing these kinds of short videos regularly to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress, and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one. Check them out on our YouTube channel or in our blog, right here on Hickman-Lowder.com.

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Masks Required at School – What About Kids with Disabilities?

Recently, we have been receiving inquiries from parents who are worried that their children with disabilities won’t be able to go back to school because of the new mask mandate issued by Governor DeWine.  The order requires all students in grades K-12 to wear a mask at school.  But, as we all know, there is a fairly small group of students who, because of their disabilities, simply cannot wear a mask all day, if at all.   Governor DeWine’s mandate specifically exempts these students:

  • any child unable to remove the face covering without assistance,
  • a child with significant behavioral/psychological issue undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of a mask,
  • a child living with severe autism or extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious due to the mask, and
  • a child with a facial deformity where a mask will cause airway obstruction.

There is a lot of talk about masks for persons with asthma, but you’ll notice that asthma alone is not a qualifier.  In a joint letter from Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, which the Governor references, it states, “Specifically, asthma, allergies and sinus infections are not a contraindication for using a face covering/mask.”  That is not to say that someone with asthma couldn’t qualify for an exemption based on one of the scenarios itemized above.

If you believe your child falls into one of the exemptions provided by the Governor, reach out to a school administrator right away.  Tell them

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Soon, the School May be Able to Change Your Child’s Placement Without Your Consent – Act Now to Prevent This Proposed Change to the Ohio Rules

The Ohio Department of Education has proposed a slew of revisions to the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC), several of which will negatively impact students with disabilities.

The most alarming change proposed is the removal of a school district’s obligation to obtain parental consent before changing a student’s educational placement (OAC 3301-51-05). If the rule is adopted as written, a school district can transfer a student to the more restrictive environment of a private school, even if the parents oppose that decision. The school district can also remove a student from an outside environment, bringing them back to their home school, a much less restrictive environment, without parental approval.  Change of placement does not always involve a separate facility; it can also include moving a student from general education classes with supports, to a self-contained classroom in the same building, with no typical peers.   This is a big deal!

A second, huge change is the addition of the term “Educational Agency”(OAC Chapter 3301-51-01).  It looks as though all “Educational Agencies” are now responsible for much of what used to be the exclusive responsibility of the school district:  child find, evaluations, IEPs, etc.  The term “Educational Agency” does include school districts, but it also includes Educational Service Centers, DD Boards, open enrollment school districts, juvenile justice facilities and potentially multiple other agencies that “provide or seek to provide special education.”  The definition itself is very unclear as to which agencies it encompasses, and the substitution of this definition for school district in

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Gathering the Documents Needed When Applying for Medicaid Can Be Overwhelming

When you become financially eligible for Medicaid, the next step is to apply and it’s generally a straightforward process.  You fill out an application with basic information about yourself and submit it to the county Job and Family Services (JFS) where you currently reside.

However, the next steps are crucial and can become overwhelming.

Be prepared to send JFS current financial statements of every account you and your spouse own, along with income verification from every source of income received by you and your spouse. Technically, JFS can require you to provide 60 months (five years) of statements because of the “five-year-look-back” period. This is because JFS will want to know whether you transferred or gifted any assets to someone else before applying for Medicaid.

In addition to all the financial records, JFS wants to ensure you are a citizen and verify what medical insurance you receive. These documents include, but are not limited to, State IDs, Social Security cards, Medicare cards, Medicare Supplement cards, birth certificates and marriage certificates.

Navigating this process can be mind-boggling and working with an experienced Elder Law Attorney can ensure financial eligibility and take the stress off of you when applying.  The attorney will tell you exactly what documents you will need and handle the application process with JFS, saving you the hassle of organizing what could be hundreds of pages of documents.

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Hickman & Lowder Introduces Special Needs Insights

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to share its Special Needs Insights series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s insight: Special Needs Planning

In our first installment of Special Needs Insights, Attorney David Banas stresses the need for a vision, taking small steps and building your plan from there..

 

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What’s It Going to Be? Yes or No?

It is the question that’s been on my mind as summer quickly skates by, are these kids going back to school in August? Yes or No?

It’s much easier to manage life when we know exactly what we’re dealing with, and, as parents, we want answers. If our children are going to be at home, schooling remotely, we have to rearrange our own work schedules or find someone reliable who can care for them. It’s frustrating to not have answers, and we want to know so we can come to terms with it and P L A N!

Keep in mind that as overwhelming as it may seem for our little families, of three or five or even seven people, imagine the logistics involved in planning for an entire school district of thousands of children, families, staff members, teachers and unions. All with different needs, health backgrounds, belief systems and political affiliations. With all the moving parts and an endless barrage of opinions being thrust about on social media, the long-awaited guidance from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Health and even the American Academy of Pediatrics has been reduced to writing. It still leaves a lot of leeway for each district to make its own decisions based on their own circumstances and our school administrators have a tough job ahead of them for sure!

We can share our opinions with the decision-makers, but the bottom line is that we don’t have control over what this

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