September 17, 2014

Media Advisory – Alumnus to testify before Congress

A Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus with cerebral palsy who is overcoming his disability will be one of five people presenting testimony before a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday, Sept. 18, on barriers to becoming economically self-sufficient.

Justin Herbst, a 2006 graduate of Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from SIU Carbondale in May 2011 with a 3.49 GPA. He will testify before the full U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions. The hearing, “Fulfilling the Promise: Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities,” is at 8:30 a.m. CDT. The hearing will be in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and testimony is scheduled to be available live here and later by video.  

Herbst, who is a quadriplegic, lives with his parents Charles and Patricia Herbst in Western Springs and works in the human resources department in the United Parcel Services office in Hodgkins. During his time at SIU Carbondale, he was a founding member of Progressive Masculinities Mentors (PMM), a group that promotes ending violence against women. He credits the university with giving him “many opportunities to grow as an individual” and notes the extra help he received through the Disability Support Services office. 

Herbst’s testimony will center on income guidelines that do not allow him to participate in UPS’ 401(k) plan without the risk of losing Medicaid benefits or his personal care attendant through the Department of Rehabilitation Services. His testimony notes he pays state and federal taxes but federal government regulations do not allow him to save for his retirement without running the risk of losing needed benefits to live a fulfilling life. 

Herbst will be available for interviews. To arrange for interviews, contact his mother, Patricia Herbst, at 708/638-9007.