Author: David Wolowitz & Michael O'Connor, Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: March 2006
From the Authors: We have designed this guidebook especially for individuals with disabilities, their family members and advocates. You should find it to be easy to understand and "user-friendly." It will help you to understand not only the rights of people with disabilities, but also the ways to protect or enforce those rights. You should be able to easily learn the various laws and regulations, and how to apply for a program or a benefit, or how to file an appeal or a complaint.
In order to explain these rights and procedures in a more personal way, we have made frequent use of the second person "you" to describe the owner of those rights. Unless we have indicated otherwise, "you" refers to readers who are persons with a disability. Readers who are family members, advocates or others should understand that, in most cases, the legal rights attach to persons with disabilities and not to them. However, we spell out those instances where rights do attach to them, as well.
The laws described in this guidebook are divided into sixteen different broad subject areas, or Chapters. Each chapter is divided into two or more Sections. Each Section describes your rights with respect to a particular law, or to a group of laws, that relate to the subject matter of the Chapter. If you have a particular problem or question, you (or your family member or advocate) will want to find the proper Chapters and Sections that address your concerns. You may want to consider only certain topics that are addressed within a Section.
To find the Chapter or Section you want, or to find the right pages which address particular topics, you should use both the Table of Contents and the Index. The Table of Contents (on the next few pages) is a detailed listing of each Chapter and Section. The Index (at the back of the guidebook) is a guide which contains references, arranged in alphabetical order, to specific topics or words or phrases, and the pages where they appear anywhere throughout the guidebook. Also, it is helpful to review the Overview Page that appears at the front of every Chapter.
Each Section is divided into one or more of the following parts. The first part explains: Your Legal Rights. There, we spell out the particular rights and benefits afforded by whatever law we are discussing in that Section. The second part is a checklist which tells you: How to Know if Your Rights Have Been Violated. The third part tells you: How to Protect or Enforce Your Rights. There, we explain the process, procedures, and strategies to obtain a benefit or to complain or appeal when a right has been violated. The fourth part tells you: Where to Go for More Information. In that part you will get helpful phone numbers and websites and you will be referred to the places where you can find the actual statutes and regulations described in the section. Certain abbreviations are used which have meanings, as follows:
ILCS - Illinois Complied Statutes (a set of Illinois laws)
Ill.Admin.Code - Illinois Administrative Code (a set of Illinois state agency regulations)
USCA - United States Code Annotated (a set of federal laws)
C.F.R. - Code of Federal Regulations (a set of federal agency regulations)
You may be able to locate these statutes and regulations at your local library or at a law library or appropriate web site.
Important! As you read about your rights and how to enforce them, it is very important to check the deadlines or time frames within which you must file your application, complaint or appeal. In many cases, if you do not take certain action within those deadlines or time frames, your rights may be lost. In each Section, you can usually find these deadlines in the part on "How to Protect or Enforce Your Rights." Where they appear, they are noted in bold.
The authors recognize that people with disabilities are complex individuals, who are defined by many things other than their disabilities. For that reason, we have made every effort to attribute the rights set forth in this guidebook as belonging to individuals or persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, certain statutes and regulations still describe such individuals as "handicapped" or "disabled." When we make reference to those laws, at certain points we have decided it best to use the legal terminology.
Some of the benefit programs described in this guidebook have eligibility criteria based on federal poverty level standards. Please find the current poverty level standards here. (Note: these standards change every year.)
The information contained in this guidebook was current as of July 2000. You may contact the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities to determine whether this guidebook has been updated. You may also check the Council's website.
Finally, the information presented in this guidebook is intended only as a general guide to certain federal and Illinois laws affecting the rights of persons with disabilities. It is not intended to replace the need for a lawyer to provide the kind of advice and representation that may be appropriate or necessary for your particular circumstances. Indeed, many of the laws and appeal procedures described in this guidebook are complex and require experienced legal counsel.
Printed from: illinoislegaladvocate.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=162
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