Help with Citing a Reference to a 504 Plan

Updated on March 13, 2017
E.B. asks from Aiea, HI
8 answers

Could someone please help me with this?

My dh is applying to get a particular military benefit for our dd, whom as you know is medically disabled. It's quite a convoluted process! She qualifies but they make it as challenging as possible! They denied our original application, despite supplying them with absolutely everything they requested, notarized, documented, etc.

To shorten a lengthy story, the department of defense now wants her IEP plan in writing. We explained she never had one, but had a 504 plan. They had never heard of it. On the phone, the woman asked my husband "oh, that's a homeschooling thing, right? We've had some homeschoolers that did 504 curriculums." Obviously someone doesn't know what a 504 plan is. They then said "so she doesn't have a high school diploma?" Patiently he stated that she graduated from a public high school with a 504 plan. He might as well have been speaking in Martian or Klingon.

Anyway, now we have to rebut their claims that we didn't educate her. I have copies of her 504 plan in writing from the school, and her completed transcript, but we need to write a letter as well, detailing our statements.

How do I reference the 504 section? I believe it's from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 504, but does anyone know the proper written way to cite it? I need the department under whose jurisdiction it falls (dept of Education? civil rights?). We wish to state it correctly, like you would in a court of law or something.

Don't worry, my dh is prepared to contact our congressman and retain a lawyer if this attempt gets denied, but I feel that we can make it past their roadblocks.

Thanks in advance!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the advice and replies. Diane B, we will now refer to the person handling our case as Sergeant Knucklehead. Thanks for the smile!

Unfortunately we cannot ask for a supervisor or superior officer. The Benefits counselor is assigned to our request, and is in charge of deciding whether to refer our application up the chain of command. So we have to appease the Benefits counselor and basically do whatever she requests.

What we're asking for is a Determination that an Adult Child is Incapable of Self Care (meaning earning a living wage, living independently, driving to and from work or school, capable of managing all medical issues, etc). While our dd is intelligent and not intellectually affected by her diagnoses, her medical conditions mean she can't work, drive, etc. She's a fall risk (one of her many daily medical problems) and I manage her meds and drive her to all appointments. (She is still doing her Facebook administration "job" for the food truck owner, and the cook tips her, and it's making her feel more positive, but it's not a salary, just a few dollars per month depending on the activity at the truck, which is fair. The experience has been great so far.)

The reason they want evidence of an IEP (or in her case, a 504) is to establish a pattern, a history. They want to make sure that she didn't suddenly get injured, or become ill, or have a workplace accident. They want to ensure that her problems started well before she turned 21.

So that's what we're doing.

I appreciate the solid advice and encouragement and responses!

Featured Answers


answers from Norfolk on

You need to get a lawyer to help you navigate this maze.
These things are really difficult to do without a lawyer.

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answers from New York on

I'm trying to get to the root of your difficulties here....

The problem with using the existence of a 504 plan as "proof" of anything is that 504 plans are available to a VERY broad category of students. Any "impairment" - very broadly defined - can give rise to a right to a 504 plan. The fact that your daughter had a 504 plan, is not evidence of any serious disability or any serious medical issue. 504 is MUCH less narrowly defined than the laws related to IEPs.

So, if the benefit you are applying for is related to serious disabilities, you should get different supporting evidence.

Beyond that - her high school transcript and diploma are obviously proof that she graduated.

And, as others have said, it's Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

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answers from Dayton on

A 504 Plan is supported by the federal civil rights law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Could you contact a counselor or the Special Education department head of the high school your daughter attended? I would think they might be able to give you pamphlets/general documentation detailing the 504 Plan. I'm hoping it was just the person on the phone who didn't have an understanding of 504 Plans vs. IEP's. Hopefully the person or committee reviewing the application knows more or will at least read the additional info you will be providing.

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answers from Boston on

The knucklehead who never heard of a 504 is, hopefully, just the gatekeeper. Hopefully, someone with a brain will see what you send in.

If you have the 504 plan, I'd attach a copy of it along with a copy of her diploma, and include in your letter a brief definition of a 504 (perhaps as distinct from an IEP), and then attach a more detailed description from the state department of ed (where she went to school, not HI) or (better) the federal dept. of education (unless that's one of the many federal websites being dismantled/revised right now). If that's a problem, see if you can get something from the local reference librarian. They are usually wonderful, untapped resources, and they are free! You may also be able to put in a quick call to the state education department to find out the exact name of the legislation that covers 504 plans. You could do that in Hawaii since it's a federal law.

I wouldn't put a google or Wikipedia answer there because there's no verification. You need something more "official." Then put in your letter just a brief explanation and say "see attached Exhibit A." Make her diploma Exhibit B, etc., and write in "Exhibit A" (B, C...) on the top of the attachment. That way, if papers get separated, it will be obvious to the recipient that there's more to look for. Moreover, it makes it clear that you've been beyond thorough in providing evidence.

Good luck! I know you are so detail-oriented and so good at keeping track of things related to your daughter. I'm sorry you have to go through all this nonsense. And I'm glad you are thinking to utilize the office of your elected officials. Often a Congress member or Senator can grease the wheels for you. That's what they're paid (by you) to do!

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answers from San Francisco on

Could you give more info about what exactly is being applied for? Both my girls had IEPs in high school (public, California) but once they went to college they knew (and were well prepped by their guidance counselors) that any extra services or help they needed were no longer automated. Meaning, services were available but my daughters had to specifically request them. THEY had to go in, sign up, be proactive, provide their high school documentation (which we physically kept, in binders.)
Is that what you are asking about?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

There are plenty of websites on the internet that have information about 504 plans. Just put the one that is the 504 plan site. If it helps print off the act section and include that in the application or site the website that shows it. If it helps you could find an attorney that specializes in disability law and ask them to show you the actual law section, again, so that you can include it.

The person you spoke with obviously isn't very aware of how things actually work. An IEP is typically for a child that has a more severe developmental disability that will effect them throughout their lives. Often they are in special ed classes at least part time.

A 504 plan is for anyone that even has any need for help to get them through the school year successfully. One of our previous principals thought it was only a plan for kids with bad behaviors. I tried and tried and tried to get him to google it but he knew what he was talking about.

One thing though, if your daughter is disabled for the rest of her life and it happened to her before 18 or 21, can't remember, then she is developmentally disabled and should be able to get Social Security disability on her own. Because she became/was diagnosed disabled in her developmental years.

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answers from Springfield on

When the woman you spoke to didn't know what a 504 plan was and thought your daughter didn't graduate high school, did you ask to speak with her supervisor? Or call again hoping for a different person?

I'm asking because just because one person was ignorant doesn't mean the entire department is ... unless you were calling them because you had already received a letter.

I still think I'd try on the phone a few more times. Also, have a basic "Wikipedia" type definition of both an IEP and a 504 plan handy. It could be something as simple as typing into google "Difference between IEP and 504."

Sometimes you just have to get past the idiots who answer the phone. They are their to weed out a lot of callers so that their bosses don't get burdened by as many phone calls. But if the person answering the phone doesn't know what a 504 plan is, you need to get past them to someone who knows more. And if the person answering the phone has never worked for a public school and doesn't have a child with a special need, why would they know what a 504 plan is? I only learned of it a couple of years ago when we were in the process of getting help for our son - and I used to teach high school!

ETA - Sorry, I have no experience with the military. I was thinking of a customer survive flunky whose job it is to say no to everyone :-)

Did you daughter ever see a psychologist or psychiatrist or some other doctor and receive a diagnosis that helped her to qualify for that 504 plan? That is often the case and such documentation might help you, as well.

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