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A Success! :)

I had fun at the PMHCA conference, but it truly is good to be back home.  Things seemed to be more relaxed overall  I think I heard someone say there were about 420 people in attendance, workshops were informative, and while I didn’t attend any of the caucuses, I found the reports to be very informative.

I had attended the 2008 PMHCA conference, which I believe had 620 people in attendance, and I felt more relaxed at this year’s conference then I did at the 2008.  it was crowded at times, but in general it was possible to walk from place to place without constantly being in shoulder to shoulder contact with other people unlike the 2008 conference where it was crowded and very noisy.

The atmosphere was calmer at this year’s conference, PMHCA was wonderful in helping me out by making a little announcment asking folks not to feed or pet the service dog.  I believe this also made a huge difference in how much I enjoyed the conference since everyone got that little reminder early on.  I was able to reconnect with old friends, and also meet some folks face to face I had only known on Facebook, I also met many other wonderful people.

I found out from one person that the “information overload” I feel so often and resort to things like an ipod and blue tinted sunglasses, might actually be a hypersensativity thing possibly associated with my diagnosis of ADHD.  I had known that the color blue had a calming effect on me, and that wearing my blue sunglasses seemed to help a lot, but never really figured out why it helped.  So to the gentleman who happens to wear infrared filtering glasses for a similar reason, and offered that bit of insight to me, I really appreciate the lead and will be looking into it further.

One workshop I attended was about advocating for folks in personal care homes.  I wasn’t overly surprised about what was given as examples of their findings while surveying folks residing in personal care homes.  In many ways what I had heard confirmed a lot of what I had thought I was seeing locally.

Some things that were confirmed included …

  • Isolation of folks living there.  this isolation could be geographicly induced, but many times it is because once someon is in a personal care home the ‘out of sight out of mind’ concept kicks in and former friends and even family will often loose touch with the person in the personal care home.
  • Financial issues … folks in personal care homes in Pennsylvania are suppose to receive $85 a monh from their Social Security benfits.  While there are homes that abide by this, it is not allways the case.  There are places that don’t give any of that money to their residents while others only give the resident a portion of it.
  • Often it is very difficult for someone in a personal care home to move out if they want to.  because all their money is tied up in the personal care home except maybe $85 it is nearly impossible for folks to realistically be able to save up enough money to be able to afford to pay for first/last month rent + a security deposit without the help of a friend or family member, which because of the isolation factor there isn’t always someone who can help someone move out of a personal care home.
  • Many times, personal care homes require that they also be the representative payee for the resident. Which in my opinion and the opinion of others seems like a HUGE conflict of interest.  Myself and others feel that there should be an independant 3rd party who takes this role and that there is no reason for the personal care home to take on that role for any resident.

There are more things then that that I felt like I got confirmation on indicating that the problem was wider spread then just my local area.

At any rate, the conference was awesome for me, and I’ve decided that my personal goal is to try and save enough to go next year.  The folks will begin planning for next year’s conference within the next week or so, and while they plan, I’ll be coming up with budget strdegies of my own to hopefully enable myself to be able to attend.

Thanks PMHCA for all you did for the conference, and also for everything you do beyond the conference that I’m only beginning to fully realize the immensity of the task you have chosen to take on.  Keep up the awesome job and know there are many backing you.


hb 1587 – Rent Rebate fairness bill


The link above is for a PDF file that gives talking points about Hb 1587 which if passed would enable folks in personal care homes to have the ability to keep the full amount of their rent rebate checks as opposed to their current ability to only keep 50% for themselves, with the other half going to the personal care home which is something no other landlord is able to do.

I looked up “Rebate” on http://www.dictionary.com and the following is a definition I found listed from the Legal Dictionary for the word “rebate”

Legal Dictionary


Pronunciation: 'rE-"bAt
Function: noun

:  a refund or deduction of part of a payment, price, or charge — re·bate /'rE-"bAt, ri-'bAt/ verb

“rebate.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 17 Jun. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rebate>.

MHA in PA email release on PNA Raise

In a Wednesday, February 18, 2009 email sent out by the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania (MHA PA) they are asking folks to send their appreciation for making the PNA  raise a reality.  The information below indicates that it did NOT cost the state anything extra to impliment this raise, so it is a win win kind of thing.

Pennsylvania residents of personal care homes living on SSI receive a personal needs allowance (PNA).  Despite an increase in living expenses, this amount has not changed since 1993. Until now.

When the federal government recently raised the SSI benefit for each individual by $37, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare issued a policy statement allowing individuals living in personal care homes to keep $25 of that money bringing the total amount of the personal needs allowance to $85. 

DPW’s decision does not cost the state more than it currently spends; and personal care homes do not lose any money.

This decision by Estelle Richman, DPW Secretary, was influenced by several lawmakers, notably Representatives Jim Marshall and Phyllis Mundy.

Please send the following email to Governor Rendell and Representatives Marshall and Mundy to let them know you are happy with this decision.

PNA increased from $60 to $85 per month

I have an exciting update for folks.  I have just found out that there is an increase in the personal needs allowance (PNA) for folks on SSI in personal care homes.  The increase isn’t what those of use who were advocating for the increase were hoping for but it is definitely and improvement for those who will be effected by it.  The increase is effective January 1, 2009 bringing the PNA up from $60 to  a new amount of $85

Hats off to all those who worked diligently to make this increase a reality!!

(Edited to remove non-functional links to documents belonging to outside sources and corrected a couple of spelling errors on 4/12/2014  Thank you to the reader who let me know about the issue with the links)

The Death of HB2253 …. Or is it?

I received the following info in an email from a friend of mine at PMHCA.  The links at the end of this post will take you to a place you can download the files Rachel mentions in her update.

Dear friends – I’m writing to update you on our fight to Raise the $60 Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) for residents of personal needs allowance and to thank you for all your help over the past year on this struggle. Here’s what we know:

Ø  House Bill 2253- The bill to raise the PNA will quietly die at the end of the 2008. We will work to get it reintroduced in the new session and will need your help in 2009 for that!

Ø  SSI Cost of Living Adjustment (raise) – We were excited to learn that people on SSI will be receiving a $37/month raise from Social Security starting January 2009. This is the largest raise in SSI since 1982!! However: Unless the Department of Public Welfare changes the amount of the personal needs allowance to reflect this raise, the personal care home residents will not receive ONE CENT of their raise.

It will all go to the owners of the personal care homes. We understand that the owners’ costs are also rising; they have received many raises over the past 15 years to address this. Residents have not received a raise for 15 years!

We are asking for DPW to support a split in the $37/month raise: $18.50 to the residents, $18.50 to the owners – this just seems fair and in fact, it’s what the Department of Aging does in their Dom Care Homes.


Here’s what we need YOU to do:

       Contact the governor’s office and your legislator to ask that DPW “Split the SSI Raise” between personal care home residents

       Here’s a message you can use:

It’s time to give a holiday gift to Pennsylvania’s low income personal care home residents: SPLIT THE SSI RAISE!

Nearly 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities in PA’s personal care homes are struggling to live on a $60 monthly allowance that must pay for medication co-pays, transportation, clothing, phone calls and all personal items. They have not received a raise in their monthly needs allowance since 1993!


In January 2009, all citizens on SSI will receive a generous 5.8% cost of living raise, $37 per month – the largest raise in 25 years. PA’s PCH residents will not receive ONE CENT of the raise unless DPW decides lets some of it go to them. We advocate that the raise be split evenly between the residents and the owners, as it was for Dom Care.

Please ask DPW to “Split the SSI raise” so that some of our most vulnerable residents can better meet their own needs!


Have a letter writing table at your holiday party! You can use the attached postcards to send your message – just print them up on card stock.


Send to:

1. Governor Edward Rendell

225 Capital Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Or governor@state.pa.us


2. Your PA state legislators – You can find your legislator at www.congress.org. Type your zip code into the box beside “find your officials”. Send your message to your State Legislators.


Click here to download Christmas Postcards to get your message out to Pennsylvania State government Officials

“Living on $60 is no joke!”

  I recieved another link to a video relating to the “Personal Needs Allowance” for folks on SSI in personal care/boarding homes in Pennsylvania.  This video is of the actual rally held on the Rotunda of the Capital building in Harrisburg, PA.  For those who don’t understand the quote I used as the title of this post, you will if you watch the video.


You will need Windows Media Player or other software capable of viewing *.wmv video files.

Important update on HB2253

I received the following information from Rachel Freund of PMHCA she has been working diligently to rally support for HB2253.  Consider spreading the word about this and also consider being in Harrisburgh on April 1, 2008 to show support for HB2253.

Please help us raise the monthly $60 personal needs allowance for nearly 9,000 personal care home residents on SSI in Pennsylvania! 

Good news! We are happy to report that Representative Jim Marshall (R-Beaver) introduced a bill last week, House Bill 2253, that proposes to raise the $60 monthly allowance to $120.

Thank you, Representative Marshall!

Early co-sponsors of HB 2253 are Ramaley, Depasquale, Mann, Mantz, D. O’Brien, Readshaw, Sainato, Vulakovich, R. Miller, Saylor, Pickett, Killion, Watson, Kula, Goodman, Helm, Cappelli, Caltagirone, Frankel, Gibbons, Dally, Belfanti, O’Neill,  Geist and J. White Now we need the help of our friends and partners from all over Pennsylvania to help us move this bill! Here’s what you can do:       If your legislator is NOT on the list of co-sponsors above, you can call him or her and ask for their support of HB 2253 as a co-sponsor.        Thank those House members who are co-sponsors.       Write a letter to your legislator asking him or her to support HB 2253 as it moves through the House        Ask your friends and colleagues to help us generate support on HB 2253 

AND: Join us in Harrisburg on Tuesday, April 1st (April Fools’ Day!) to

“Rally to Raise the $60”.

 We will rally in the Capital Rotunda at 2 PM to shine a light on this important issue! Here are some ‘talking points’ about the $60 personal spending allowance: ·         The allowance has been $60 per month since 1993; due to inflation, what cost $60 in1993 now costs approximately $83  ·         Residents must now cover their medication co-pays and over the counter meds with the $60 monthly allowance, as well as co-pays for doctor visits  ·         They must also pay for toll telephone calls, clothing and shoes, bus fares, haircuts, cigarettes, snacks and entertainment, as well as other personal needs   ·         It is clear that many PCH residents are not getting enough of their own money to meet ongoing expenses.   For more information contact Rachel Freund, PA Mental Health Consumers’ Association 412-621-4706 ext. 22 or rfreund@verizon.net  Please pass it on! Thanks!


New Housbill – HB2253

Rep. Jim Marshall of Beaver is introducing a bill, HB 2253, to raise the Personal Spending Allowance for people on SSI in personal care homes from $60 – $120  Please ask your representatives to come along side of Rep. Jim Marshall in support of HB2253

As things stand now, after the personal care homes receive their portion of each person’s SSI they house, the individuals receive $60 per month which they need to budget bus transportation, clothing, personal hygeine items, co-pays for medications and doctor appointments, and any other “extra” they may need beyond what is supplied by the personal care home.  If this amount were increased to $120 the folks would still have the same number of “extras” to budget for, but it would be a more reasonable request then it currently is to expect them to pay for these items out of their pocket without giving them the funds to do it with.  This Bill would benefit anyone on SSI who resides in a personal care boarding home, so it reaches beyond the mental health Consumer population.

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