Winston originally began working with the disabled in the 1970's while working for a non-profit that aimed its mission at helping disabled people receive proper public benefits. "Working there helped me decide to go to law school", said Winston. "I really enjoyed the work and helping people so I decided to focus my practice on it". Winston was chosen to become a member of the SNA as a result of his vast experience as an industry leader in the area of disabled and public benefits law during which time he has been a featured lecturer and trainer as well as a leading author on the subject. Winston is a past President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He was selected to become President Elect after several years of working in a leadership role within the organization.
Mr. Winston will take over his role as President Elect during a very pivotal time in relation to public benefits. The fall of the US economy as well as the ongoing battle in Congress for healthcare reform have both impacted many public benefit programs that are funded by the government. It also appears that the national healthcare bill will not specifically address many of the issues related to the disabled. "Fiscal problems have lead to cuts for many need based programs. We are trying to ensure accessibility to programs and services for the disabled that will allow them to live with the most dignity in their lives", said Winston. One major obstacle for receiving disability benefits is the long waiting period. Under current legislation an adult that becomes disabled must undergo a 29 month waiting period before they can begin receiving Medicare. This long window can not only result in significant financial hardship but also an enormous decline in quality of life.
Winston also pointed out that it is much more cost effective to provide for the disabled with public benefits and through other community organizations as opposed to institutionalization, which was once the leading option. "It is much cheaper to fund community programs than institutions", said Winston. "Massachusetts has been at the forefront of this movement."As the weakened economy continues to struggle and the elderly population in America continues to grow special needs rights is an issue that will become even more of a pressing issue in the future.
Anyone with questions regarding public benefits or disability law can contact the Special Needs Alliance at 877-572-8472, www.specialneedsalliance.org or Moschella & Winston at 716-776-3300, www.moschellawinston.com.