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Illinois Civil Unions are Almost here.

The AIDS Legal Council is excited about the recent passage of the Illinois Civil Union Act. Beginning in June of 2011 Illinois same-sex couples will be able to enter into legally-recognized civil unions “with all the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses.” Before entering into a civil union, it is important for low-income individuals to consider the impact their civil union may have on their public benefits. Because the Civil Union Act is a state law, the changes will be primarily in state programs. But since it’s not always clear which programs are state and which are federal, this guide lists the main public benefits programs accessed by people with HIV and describes what effect, if any, the new law will have on them. INCOME PROGRAMS SOCIAL SECURITY — SSDI...

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Our New Hero

We’re adding a new member to the AIDS Legal Council’s Honor Roll of Really Groovy Attorneys We Love a Whole Bunch. Today we’re singing the praises of Ian Ackerman, an attorney in the corporate practice group of Kirkland & Ellis (a law firm we’ve adored for a heck of a long time). I’m sure you too will love him a whole bunch after reading about the way he handled a particularly messy case for one of our clients. Not long ago Anthony (not his real name) received a notice from Social Security informing him that his earnings records showed he had been working in 2008 and 2009, to the tune of nearly $10,000 a year. And since Anthony was receiving SSI during that time, Social Security believed it had overpaid him and wanted a big pile of money back,...

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A New National Strategy?

You’ve probably heard that the White House Office of National AIDS Policy just issued the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Like many similar documents, it’s full of lofty language about all the marvelous things the federal government might consider doing to address the HIV epidemic. Those of you with a cynical side might be tempted to roll your eyes and throw the document out the window after reading no further than the “Vision for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy” which functions as the plan’s preamble: “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.” Heck, all people with seasonal allergies will...

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Wrapping Our Brains Around Health Care Reform

Quick! According to the new, massive health care reform law, when must employers begin to report the value of employees’ health insurance benefits on their W-2s? When will Health and Human Services establish a process to review unreasonable insurance premium increases? When must insurance companies start selling individual insurance policies to anyone, regardless of pres-existing condition? If you know the answers to any of these questions, you are a bigger wonk than us. But if you’d like a concise timeline for the implementation of the various aspects of health care reform, click on this lovely link and read to your wonky heart’s...

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A Happy Ending

You may recall our client’s debacle last month, when he contacted a large child welfare agency to begin the process of becoming a foster parent — and was told that his HIV status would make that impossible. (If you don’t recall, you can read it here). The child welfare agency had sent him a letter explaining that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) prohibits anyone with a “communicable disease” from being a foster parent. Well, we contacted the attorney for the child welfare agency. To his credit, his immediate response was, “That doesn’t sound right.” After some investigation, the attorney assured us that it is not his agency’s policy to turn potential foster parents away simply because they have HIV. In fact, the agency had worked with many HIV-positive foster parents in the past. What might have...

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