Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time for Change with ODSP & it's Treatment of Spousal Earnings!

When it comes to people living with disabilities I am sure you will agree that we all have the right to get married or start a relationship without penalty. Sadly, here in the Province of Ontario our Government has policies in place that end up punishing people with disabilities who are married including those living with someone they are in a relationship with. These policies govern the Ontario Disability Supports Program which was originally created to help those with disabilities in need of income support. Over the last 9 years I have been doing my best to raise awareness of these issues and their negative affects but nothing has changed. Now I fully understand that when your up against a government your almost guaranteed to fail especially when you seem to be the only one fighting for fairness for those with disabilities who are married and have no other choice but to rely on income support from ODSP. Maybe the mistake I have been making over the last 9 years is asking for a change to policies that would be too costly for any government to make. In the past I have asked them to stop using spousal earnings to reduce the amount of income support the person with the disability receives. Today, I realize that may have been my mistake as I am now recommending simple changes to their treatment of Spousal Earnings. 

So, let’s look at the facts.

Current treatment of Spousal Earnings

Non-disabled/Working spouses of those receiving income support from ODSP can earn $200 a month before seeing their disabled spouse’s income support reduced. If the non-disabled working spouse earns more than $200 a month, 50 per cent of their net earnings over $200 will be deducted from the disabled spouse’s income support payment. ODSP does give those with non-disabled working spouses an extra $100 each month for working. This is called the Work-Related Benefit. This still results in many with the disability who are unable to work but have a working spouse will see their income support they are entitled to reduced by 50 per cent every month. Which ends up robbing the person with the disability of their dignity taking away their ability to control their own lives. Having things set up this way means that non-disabled or working spouses are to assume full financial responsibility of the person they married who has the disability. Something that acts as a deterrent to those without disabilities considering starting a relationship with someone who has a disability and is receiving income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Which ends up preventing many with disabilities receiving ODSP from forming new relationships that would be beneficial to their health and well being.

Changes we are seeking from the Ontario Government

Non-disabled/Working spouses of those receiving income support from ODSP should be allowed to earn $400 a month before seeing their disabled spouse’s income support reduced. Then if the non-disabled working spouse earns more than $400 a month, 25 per cent of their net earnings over $400 would then be deducted from the disabled spouse’s income support payment. ODSP should continue giving those with non-disabled working spouses an extra $100 each month for working through the Work-Related Benefit. This would then result in those with the disability who are unable to work but have a working spouse will only see the income support they are entitled to reduced by 25 per cent every month. Which would end up allowing the person with the disability to better control their own lives. Allowing those with disabilities who are unable to work to properly contribute to their household enabling us to afford the extra costs that come with living with a life altering disability. It would also enable us to better afford the increasing cost of living in the province of Ontario. Allowing those with disabilities receiving ODSP to enter a loving relationship with no penalty as that would be truly beneficial to their health and well being.

Also, shouldn’t a government known for preaching inclusiveness stand-up and finally update unfair regulations that govern ODSP especially ones that in a way take away the right of those with disabilities to love or be loved? Sadly, as of today the province of Ontario is not truly an inclusive place to live especially for people with disabilities who are in relationships or married.

You can help!

There is no doubt that things need to change especially when it comes to unfair legislation that punishes those with disabilities who are married or in a relationship. Best of all you can help!
Please (Click Here) to sign our Change.org petition to make your voice heard today!

All we are seeking is the change we so desperately need.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Join me as I share my Becker Muscular Dystrophy Story.

My name is Brad Miller and I was diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 10, a condition which limits my ability to walk and gets progressively worse over time. I created the My Becker's Story blog in 2010 to share my story and to help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy. Along with sharing my story I also raise awareness about accessibility and the issues people with disabilities face. When it comes to the My Becker's Story blog even though the focus is on Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I also want to encourage those affected by other conditions even other forms of Muscular Dystrophy to join in as well. I truly believe when we join "Together" we can make a difference in our communities and raise even more awareness about Muscular Dystrophy and the issues people with disabilities face. The main focus behind the My Becker’s Story blog is to tell my story in hopes that it will somehow help those living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, as well as their families and friends.

What people are saying about the My Becker's Story blog:

"Hi there, I also suffer from BMD. Just read the blog and the first half is like reading my personal history!!"

"I ran across your spot today, you sure have a lot on here I will have to check in a lot. I also have BMD and everything you say resonates deeply."

"I am also in my mid-30's with Becker's from the UK so thought i'd join and say hello! Struggling with all the same things as mentioned in the blog!"

"I am new to this group. Just want to say it is nice to meet people who understand."

 "I love your blog and it is nice to know there are others out there facing the same challenges as I do each and every day."

If you would like to read my personal story about growing up with Becker Muscular Dystrophy please click on the image below.

When it comes to living with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I intend to take what I have been through in my life and some how use it to help those going through a similar situation. When it comes down to it the main idea behind My Becker’s Story is to help those like me who are living with Muscular Dystrophy, by creating a place for us to connect. I truly believe that we are in this "Together". And I believe that with every one’s help that together we can help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy around the world.

Laps for Muscular Dystrophy

Laps 4 MD Making a difference - One lap at a time.
 Along with sharing my story as a child I grew up with the hope of one day becoming a race driver, but due to the physical limitations of Becker's Muscular Dystrophy was unable to pursue this dream. Being unable to participate in team sports as a child I always longed to some how find a way to be involved with Motorsports. In 2012, I came up with a unique way of raising awareness & funds for Muscular Dystrophy - which allows me in a way to live out my Motorsports dream. This is when I founded Laps4MD. A charity effort where racers across Canada & the USA donate $1 for every lap they lead benefiting Muscular Dystrophy charities.

To learn more please visit www.LAPS4MD.com

Thank you for visiting My Becker's Story!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The challenges of being a man with a physical disability

When it comes to slowly losing your muscle strength at times it can mean losing the ability to do many things others take for granted. Since I have lost a lot of strength in my arms over the years this has resulted in an inability to carry anything that is too heavy. Things many people can carry with ease such as a jug of milk or even a case of water. This means in many situations my wife ends up being the one carrying the heavy load. This is one of my biggest frustrations whenever we go grocery shopping as this can result in me looking like a jerk. Especially to those who are simple observers as they look at me and wonder why this man is making his wife carry everything that is heavy. As many in society expect the man to do all the heavy lifting. But I do understand that these people have no real clue about my physical limitations, as they see a man who may look perfectly fine in their eyes. Believe me at times I get the stares from total strangers looking me up and down as if they are judging me thinking there's no way this guy has a disability. This is just a part of living with a hidden disability and it has been something I have been dealing with since I was eighteen years old - so it's really nothing new. The truth is some people have a stereotypical view of what someone with a disability should look like and most days I don't fit that mold. So, when they see me not doing what is expected of a man especially when it comes to doing all the heavy lifting they might make the mistake of judging me and thinking I am lazy. I really can't blame them and sure it shouldn't bother me as to what people think as I already know that they simply don't understand.

 Still I do feel bad as I am unable to physically step up and help my wife and I hate the fact that she end's up doing all the heavy lifting. I am so thankful that she understands but to the untrained eye many people view me as a regular guy when they know nothing about my story. It's the same thing when total strangers give me dirty looks when they see me parking in an accessible parking space. Even other people with disabilities at times can be very ignorant to the fact that not every disability is visible. But they are not there when my leg gives out causing me fall or when I trip over a simple pebble on the ground, it's the main reason why I tend to walk with my head down looking for anything that may trip me up. At times it makes me look anti-social since I am always looking down. The facts are only those close to us at times can truly understand our physical limitations, but all too often total strangers make snap judgments simply because they don't know any better. They see the international sign for accessibility being someone in a wheelchair and automatically think that is what everyone with a disability looks like. The facts are ignorant people will always judge others and sometimes we make the mistake of caring what they think. Currently I am slowly becoming okay with other's seeing my wife carrying the things I find too heavy. If they look at me as a lesser man or think I am not a stand-up guy because of this, I don't let it bother me as I can't expect everyone to understand my situation. After all I can admit I may look like a tough guy who can carry my own weight but little do they know looks can be deceiving. In the end, it is truly unfortunate that in this day and age some people still have a stereotypical view of people with physical disabilities. 

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Top 10 Must-Haves for those living with Muscular Dystrophy


At times having Muscular Dystrophy can result in making household cleaning a little more challenging. Especially when it comes to cleaning dishes which can involve standing for a long period of time and the over use of our hand and arms muscles. That is why so many of us benefit from owning a dishwasher. In my situation, this has made life so much easier resulting in me only having to load and empty the dishwasher. This took away the physical demands I was used to dealing with when washing dishes the old-fashioned way. When it comes to living with Muscular Dystrophy having a dishwasher is a necessity. That is why I am so very thankful for my dishwasher. Cost $500 and up.

Side-by-side Fridge

A simple thing such as owning a side-by-side fridge can really benefit those with Muscular Dystrophy. The ability to place things on specific shelves so we can reach them can really help in eliminating the risks we can face when bending over to get something from the back of the fridge. To me these side-by-side fridges are a much better design especially for anyone living with a physical disability. That is why I am hopeful that one day I will be able to have side-by-side fridge. Cost $1200 and up.

Side Swing Wall Ovens

When it comes to the kitchen one major obstacles at times at times can come when using your standard oven. Especially when placing a heavy casserole dish into the oven. Over the last few years I have nearly dropped many heavy dishes while trying to place them in oven which would end up create a real mess resulting in a major fire hazard. The best thing about any wall oven is that it can be set at a level that best suits our physical limitations. Now it does depend on the stage of progression with Muscular Dystrophy as eventually placing anything in the oven may one day be something we can no longer do. All I know is I sure wish I had one. Cost $1500 and up.

T-Fal Fresh Express 

Food preparation such as cutting up fruits and vegetable to even grating cheese can become a real pain in the arm for those of us with Muscular Dystrophy. The T-Fal Fresh Express is a product I really wish I had as it slices and grates for you automatically with it’s powerful 200W motor. Five cone options offer unprecedented choice: thin slicing (cucumbers, potatoes), thick shredding (beets, cheese), grating (parmesan), thin shredding (zucchini, carrots), and wavy slicing cut (radishes, hard cheeses). In my case simple tasks such as cutting up vegetables of grating cheese can leave my hands and arms feeling weak. That is why I would love to have a T-Fal Fresh Express in my home. Cost $79.99

Walk-in bathtubs

The facts are that many of us living with Muscular Dystrophy lose the ability to take a bath. Some may start to use specific lifts that still allow them to get in and out of a bathtub. But for those of us still walking even with a bit a difficulty due to the weakness in our arms and legs simply can’t lift ourselves out of the tub. That is why many of us would enjoy owning one of these walk-in tubs as a warm bath can really help our muscles to relax, elevating muscles pains. These tubs are simply the only option for some of us to have the ability to take a bath.  
Cost $4,500 and up.

Walk-in/Roll-in Shower

Having Muscular Dystrophy can result in difficulty lifting our legs even when stepping into the shower. Stepping in and out of your standard tub can put us at risk for a fall. Now as our muscles weaken it becomes increasingly important to eliminate these types of obstacles resulting in the need for a walk-in/roll-in shower. This is a real key to our safety in the bathroom especially when facing difficulties to stand up to take a shower. In my current stage of progression I would sure benefit from having a walk-in shower. Cost $800 and up.

Grabber/Pick-Up Tool

Many years ago, I started using a pick-up tool and it has truly changed my life. When it comes to living with Muscular Dystrophy the simple task of bending over to pick something up can become a real challenge for us. These types of tools are very beneficial for anyone facing these types of difficulties. I no longer have waste my energy or risk a fall when I need to pick something up. That is why owning a pick-up Tool is very important for those living with Muscular Dystrophy. 
Cost $29.00

Mobility Scooter

This compact scooter offers wireless disassembly which makes transporting it very easy. This one even allows you to change the look of your scooter with three sets of snap-on shroud panels in Red, Blue and Sahara. It offers a 300 lb. weight capacity, generous seat size and completely wireless disassembly. With easy steering, and a battery charging port which is conveniently located on the tiller under the control panel. In many situations disassembly would have to be completed by a spouse or friend. This is a great option for those dealing limited walking abilities. Cost $2200

Adjustable beds
At times the ability for use to become comfortable in bed can become very challenging. For some of us just sitting up in bed can take a lot out of us physically. Adjustable beds allow us to sit up of put our legs up with a touch of a button. A real benefit for those of us who need the extra help. Cost $1300 and up. 

Mini-Van/Accessible vehicle

Eventually, owning an mini-van or accessible van becomes a real necessity. As many people already know mini-vans at times are the perfect choice for those living with disabilities. Whether still walking or using a wheelchair full-time many offers the perfect step in height for those who may struggle to get in and out of much smaller vehicles. Many will find that they are fully capable of transporting many collapsible wheelchairs. Best of all many mini-vans on the market today are also able to be converted into a fully accessible van. 
Cost $15,000 (Used) $45,000 and up (New)
While many of the items listed above are very pricey and for some of us unobtainable they are things that would definitely help make our lives easier. It really all depends on your stage of progression when these items do become a necessity. In a way this is my Muscular Dystrophy wishlist.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My need for a move into fully accessible apartment building

When it come to living with Muscular Dystrophy if you are not already living in a place set up to handle your specific physical needs then a move will soon become your main priority. As our muscles weaken many of us already know we must do our best to plan ahead by finding a place to live that is capable of handling our current and future needs. This is the stage in life with Muscular Dystrophy I am now facing as my current place of residence is quickly making my life more challenging than it should be. I guess that's what you get for living in a small apartment in a building originally built in the early 1900's. While it does provide a lot of character the lack of accessibility due to it's age is really starting to make life a lot more difficult. Originally the plan was to live here for just a few years we just didn't expect the cost of rent to sky-rocket so high in our community. Now whenever we do find the perfect place to move that can handle my specific needs we quickly find out the cost well exceeds what we can afford. A reality many are facing due to the high cost of living in the area we currently reside. Some have even suggested moving to a smaller community where rent would be much cheaper but that would mean living a far distance away from our family and friends. Something that wouldn't be easy for us to do.

Currently I am facing a few challenges in my current apartment building due to inaccessibility. I can't even access the laundry room as it is in the basement and can only be accessed by using a set of stairs. My hope for this year is to somehow be living in a new accessible apartment building before winter time. As winter adds in a whole other set of issues for me when it comes to living in our current apartment building. At times just getting to my vehicle through all the ice and snow can be a major difficulty. This since the parking lot and walkways remain icy most winter days. This can result in me being stuck inside simply due to that fact it is impossible for me to walk anywhere safely. There is no doubt that with all the issues I am facing in my current building the time has come for me to move. I am just hopeful this much-needed move happens in at least the next few years. In the end, it is very important for those of us with physical disabilities to live in places set up to handle our current and future needs. As this not only results in making our lives easier but the lives of our care takers as well. Which for many of us includes our spouses and parents who already do so much for us on a daily basis. I simply want to take a bit of the pressure off my wife who already does all the heavy lifting. That is why I want to live in a place that also improves her quality of life as well. I just hope we can afford to make this move very soon, or hopefully one day I win the lottery so I can afford all the things listed in my blog post entitled: "The Top 10 Must-Haves for those with Muscular Dystrophy"

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