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Individual & Systems Advocacy


SM-4498 is a 60 year old male amputee below the right knee. He currently resides in St. Mary’s County Maryland referred by DORS. SM-4498 was a former truck driver, so being able to drive again was very important to him. SM-4498 wanted to be able to drive again and regain his independents. SM-4498 set many goals for himself; first he would regain his driver license by passing a driving evaluation and complete behind the wheel training. Next SM-4498 would need to have modifications installed on his truck as well as retrieve equipment to transport his scooter.

SM-4498 passed his driving evaluation and behind the wheel training. Vehicle  modifications were made using SMCIL’s Independent Living Assistive Technology (IL-AT) grant funds. Modifications included lift with transfer assistance and hand controls. SM-4498 is very outgoing and enjoys being out in the community and having his vehicle modification makes his life easier. SM-4498 no longer has to depend on his children who are busy with their daily activities of life. Now SM-4498 is able to transport himself to his doctor appointments and other outing independently.

Because most people have not had accurate information about how the Social Security work incentives work, some people have worked and not informed SSA and have ended up getting an overpayment which SSA expects them to pay back.   Although consumers will have to pay back the money, SMCILstaff can help negotiate the SSA repayment to a reasonable monthly amoun.

We are now an employment network site for the Social Security Administration (SSA) Ticket To Work (TTW) program.  We inform SSDI and SSI recipients and beneficiaries of their rights and responsibilities when they choose to work while disabled – as well as work incentives they may not know about that helps them ease off benefits.  To avoid SSA overpayments and for more information on the TTW program click here to check it out more. 

Nothing About us Without us!
SMCIL and all other Centers for Independent Living are involved in changing systems to make them more user friendly and responsive to our needs. Independent Living & Self- Determination philosophy stresses the importance of people with disabilities being in decision-making roles about programs that are for their benefit.


SMCIL has programs to help people learn self-advocacy skills

  • We provide advocacy related workshops where people can learn together how the various systems work and self-advocacy skills.
  • Individuals can work with a peer mentor to learn advocacy skills – someone who can go along with them, cheer them on and practice with them ahead of time what they want to say and do on their own behalf. The mentor might help them write letters to their legislators, or to their doctor.


SMCIL provides advocacy on behalf of individuals who need this kind of support – for instance a staff or  peer mentor might go with them to social services, social security administration or doctor appointment. We often provide this kind of support via phone and email, as much as in person.


What is Systems Change or Community Advocacy?

Let’s start with a story to illustrate…

There is an old advocacy story about a place where people started noticing that babies were floating down the river alone. They started fishing the babies out of the water one by one. But the babies kept coming and soon there were many people fishing babies out of the water.

Finally, one person shouted in frustration, “That’s it! I have had it!” and walked away. Shocked, someone called after them, “Are you walking away from these babies that need saving?”

The person replied, “No, I am going upstream to find out who is throwing these babies in the river and I am going to stop them!” With that, several others took off up river to help her.

That story is an example of community advocacy in a nutshell: Noticing a trend and searching for the source of the barrier or problem in order to eliminate it at its source. This might mean talking to the person in charge, changing public policy, or changing the law.

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