Form letter for Congress:
Copy/paste the following letter into an email that goes to the President of the United States and your representatives in the U.S. House of Representative and in the U.S. Senate. http://congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/
I would like to ask that you support legislative changes needed to allow individuals who choose to marry the right to maintain benefits as a dependent person. Under the current federal guidelines set out in the Social Security Act , if a person marries, even though the court continues to declare them a dependent with a guardian, that person loses the right to receive Social Security and medical benefits he or she would be entitled to receive from the retirement or death of their parents. Many of these individuals receive SSI because of their being disabled, but they will need the greater benefit of their parent's benefits after the parents may no longer be able to provide care for them. Those benefits will be crucial to the couples with special challenges being able to live in a safe, consistent environment in their elder years.
Our laws, through our society, have confused the skills needed to support oneself financially with the skills needed to make and sustain a committed, loving relationship. Many non-disabled individuals may fully support themselves, but do not have the skills needed to maintain a healthy marriage, just as many individuals with disabilities have the capacity to maintain long lasting loving relationships, but cannot manage their financial and medical needs without assistance. They are clearly separate issues, but not in the eyes of current legislation.
We know many persons in our society who experience great benefit from being in a committed relationship, both in the disabled as well as the non-disabled population. We know that stable relationships lend to healthier lifestyles, have less judicial involvement, thus a stronger community. By not allowing these couples to make a legal bond they have fewer opportunities to add to their community in a moral way. Sometimes these individuals will decide their only option is to live together without benefit of marriage, but this is usually not the first choice for these couples. There are too many couples having special needs who are "living together" and cannot get married "'cause of the moneys".
And we call ourselves a family oriented society.
Our country has made steady, though what often feels like very slow, progress toward providing equitable rights toward those with disabilities. In the past many having those challenges were "put away" into institutions or "hidden away" in their family's homes. The law has encouraged our society to include them in the workplace and in the schools, but sadly, not in the institution of marriage.
Changes have also occurred in the field of medicine. No longer are many having disabilities dying as infants, children or young adults. Our medical field has outpaced our society's laws and expectations. No one envisioned these special people would ever want or need the same involvement with a family they chose for themselves, one of their own generation. Now, many of these individuals have parents who have died, or who can no longer care for them physically. They yearn for the closeness of family, a life partner who shares memories and dreams with them. Hopefully, those younger adults with challenges will include in their expectations the possibility of having life partners. Certainly not every person will choose to marry, and we would not presume that every couple (disabled or not) would choose to have children, that is a separate issue, but all people should be allowed to make decisions about finding life partners.
In reality, agencies and even family members still see those whom have disabilities as property. Just as those African American families were bought and sold before the Civil War, we move and separate those with disabilities at our whim, as well. Without the legal tie of marriage, they are too often moved from place to place without regard to keeping those they feel are family with them. If a legal bond had been established greater effort would be made toward keeping those chosen family members together.
Help those who are working so hard to be part of this community to be afforded the same opportunities as others in their community: the opportunity to establish their own family. Let them live in their community with the same options as you and I have for choosing a mate. Let us not penalize the individuals because of their challenges.
Please support new legislation allowing those with disabilities the rights to full dependent benefits if they marry.