1. What does Disability Rights Nebraska do?

Disability Rights Nebraska is a private, non-profit organization that provides protection and advocacy services to people with disabilities. We can provide information and referral, legal and non-legal advocacy, technical assistance and training, and outreach and education. See our Fact Sheet for more information.

2. Who is eligible to receive services from Disability Rights Nebraska?

You may be eligible to receive services from Disability Rights Nebraska if:
- You have a disability as defined in the federal laws which fund our services;
- You have a problem related to your disability;
- Your issues or problem falls within the priorities established by our Board of Directors.

We receive funding under seven different federal programs. Each program has its own unique focus. To be eligible for services, you must meet the basic eligibility requirements of one of these seven programs:

- Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (PADD):
To be eligible for the PADD program, a person must have a developmental disability. A developmental disability means that an individual must have a severe mental or physical impairment which occurs before the age of 22, is likely to be life-long, results in functional limitations in at least three areas of major life activity (self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency), and needs an individually tailored plan for care, treatment or other services for an extended period of time.

- Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI):
To be eligible for services under the PAIMI program, a person must have a significant mental illness, as determined by a Licensed Mental Health Professional, and: currently be an inpatient or resident of a facility providing care and treatment for mental illness; or, a person who has been discharged from a facility within the last 90 days; or, who presents an issue that arose during their stay at a facility or within 90 days after discharge; or, a person with a significant mental illness living in the community. Priority is given to those people who present an issue while in a facility. Individuals in jails can be served only if not serving a criminal sentence.

- Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR):
To be eligible for assistance through the PAIR program, a person must have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or with a record of such an impairment, or be regarded by others as having such an impairment and must not eligible for assistance under the CAP (Client Assistance Program), PADD or PAIMI programs.

- Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT):
To be eligible under the PAAT program, a person must have been denied assistive technology devices or services designed to meet their specific disability needs.

- Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS):
To be eligible for assistance through the PABSS program, you must be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and wanting to return to work despite your disabilites. We can also assist beneficiaries of Social Security benefits who have an over payment of benefits problem.

- Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA):
We are permitted to use PAVA funds to ensure the participation of individuals with disabilities in the electoral process, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places. The federal law does not permit Disability Rights Nebraska to use PAVA funds to litigate voter access issues. However, we can assist individuals with complaints to the Nebraska Secretary of State relating to the voting process.

- Protection and Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI):
To be eligible for the PATBI program, the individual must have a traumatic brain injury.

3. What will happen when I contact Disability Rights Nebraska for assistance?

The process begins with an intake interview. You can contact intake staff by phone, in writing, by fax, email or in person. Case advocates are available to handle intakes from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon Monday through Friday. Usually, messages left for a case advocate or an attorney are returned within twenty-four hours.

During the intake process case advocates will need to obtain information about you, the problem you are experiencing, as well as other supporting information. If the request can be met by offering information or referral to other agencies, the case advocate will provide assistance. If the contact concerns a potential case, the case advocate will then present the request for assistance to our Legal Advocacy Team. The team will determine eligibility for services and what action should be taken. If accepted, the case will be assigned to a case advocate and an attorney. If not accepted, the case advocate will attempt to provide information regarding the issue and, when appropriate, a referral.

4. How does Disability Rights Nebraska decide whether or not it will represent me?

Generally, a decision to provide legal representation is based on three criteria:
- The merits of your claim;
- Whether your problem falls within priorities established by our Board of Directors;
- The availability of agency resources.

Disability Rights Nebraska reserves the right to refuse to accept a case under the following circumstances:
- The problem or issue does not arise from the individual's disability.
- An ethical or professional conflict exists within Disability Rights Nebraska.
- The individual is currently represented by an attorney.
- Legal action was started at the time the individual contacted Disability Rights Nebraska.
- There is another agency "better equipped" to handle the case.
- The legal issues are clearly established and another system exists in which non-legal advocates can effectively pursue enforcement of rights.
- No legal remedy is available.

Regardless of the individual's disability or their initial eligibility, Disability Rights Nebraska will not accept cases, but will only provide information and referral services, when the following issues are presented:
- Divorce, child custody, and adoption
- Estate planning (wills and trusts)
- Criminal defense
- Mental health board commitment
- Landlord-tenant
- Tax law, corporate or business law, consumer law, debtor-creditor law
- Personal injury (other than injuries arising from abuse and neglect)
- Initiation of guardianship or conservatorship of a person; and
- Cases that involve inmates at a correctional facility

5. What can I do if I don't agree with the decision? (Grievance Policy)

As someone requesting services or a current client, you have the right to file a grievance if: 1) you believe that assistance has been denied improperly, 2) you are dissatisfied with the assistance provided or 3) you believe that an incorrect eligibility determination has been made. You may request a review of the matter by calling or writing the Executive Director. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Executive Director, you may appeal that decision to the Executive Committee of the Disability Rights Nebraska Board of Directors.

6. Does Disability Rights Nebraska charge a fee for service?

- Legal services:
Disability Rights Nebraska does not charge a fee for information and referral or advice. Attorney fees may be charged in all cases accepted for legal representation on either a contingent fee basis or a direct billing for hours expended on the matter. The costs of legal representation by Disability Rights Nebraska that is subject to direct billing for hours expended will be based on the individual's (or in the case of a dependent child, the family's) ability to participate in the cost of legal representation. A sliding fee scale based on the individual's or family's ability to pay for legal representation will be followed. At the discretion of the Executive Director, the billing for court costs or attorney fees may be altered or waived in a case if there are extenuating circumstances.

- Educational and Training Presentations:
Disability Rights Nebraska can provide education and training in the areas of legal rights, disability law, and advocacy skills. At the discretion of the Executive Director, the fees to be charged are negotiable and may be waived in the event the request is made by a consumer or family-member advocacy organization. Outreach presentations about the nature and purpose of Disability Rights Nebraska are provided free of charge. The purpose of charging fees is to enable Disability Rights Nebraska to recoup a portion of the cost of providing education and training. Fees may be charged for a presenter's honorarium, travel time and mileage, however the cost of materials are negotiated separately. Please contact us if you are interested in more information about the fee structure for educational and training presentations.

7. What do all those acronyms mean? (Acronym List)

It can become confusing and a person can become lost in the "alphabet soup" of acronyms. Here is a helpful guide to commonly used acronyms.