How Britney Spears’ Case Could Change the Future of Conservatorship

BY ABIGAIL ABRAMS: For Complete Post, Click Here…

When Britney Spears told a judge on Wednesday about her experience with her conservatorship—the legal arrangement that gave her father control over her finances and personal life—her words horrified the public.

“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she said, detailing how her legal guardians have dictated where she lives, works and receives therapy, stopped her from seeing friends, forced her to take medication against her will and prevented her from having her IUD removed so she could try to get pregnant. “I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things.”

But while Spears’ speech was shocking for many listeners, disability rights lawyers and advocates say what she described is not unusual for many conservatorships in the United States, which are typically instituted for elderly adults, people with mental illnesses or those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Spears is arguably the nation’s most high-profile conservatee, and people with disabilities who have been fighting to reform conservatorships for years now hope that the attention paid to her case can give momentum to the push to rethink the entire system.

Why I Can’t Get Legally Married Because of My Disability

By Jennie Lewin: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Imagine having to choose between your life and marrying your significant other. Many people are unaware that people with disabilities experience the unfair choice of legal marriage versus loss of benefits. Because I have two rare chronic illnesses, Blau syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, I not only lose my disability benefits if I choose to marry, but I also lose my health insurance. Both of these illnesses require extensive testing, blood work, appointments, and inpatient infusions on a regular basis. If I were to lose my health insurance, my treatments that not only provide me with quality of life, but literally keep me alive, would be unaffordable.

For most who are unable to work due to disability, financial and medical assistance is immediately terminated upon marriage. Most government-based assistance programs are based on income, so if your spouse is employed, their income counts towards your limit and you become ineligible. Because I was disabled as a child, I am able to stay on my father’s private health insurance — as long as I don’t get married. That is the very insurance that allows me to receive the expensive treatments that have kept me alive up to this point. Because of this, I have no option to marry, nor will I ever if the laws regarding this inequality don’t change. This injustice obviously needs attention and to be rectified, but for today, I must accept it and move forward.

Driving Change Through Customized Employment

By Rose Warner: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Bob Simonovich was in the Army for 14 years. Transitioning out of the military and finding a civilian job was difficult, especially with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD. An employment specialist with the VA Medical Center in Cleveland met with Bob to go through a process called “discovery” that helped him look at his job search differently. Based on his strengths, interests and talents, the discovery process led Bob to work that he is passionate about: “I discovered that I’m capable of doing a job that I’ve dreamed of all my life.” For Bob, that job is an official scorer for the Akron RubberDucks minor league baseball team.

This process of discovery, which matches people’s skills, interests and talents with employers’ needs, results in employment that is “customized” for both the jobseeker and the employer, creating a “win-win” relationship. Known as customized employment, thousands of people with disabilities have benefitted from it in the past 22 years following the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. This landmark case affirmed the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive services in their communities in the most integrated settings possible. This includes employment services since working is a key part of community life.

Two years later came another major milestone – the establishment of the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Since day one, ODEP has worked to advance the spirit of Olmstead through our work on customized employment, grounded in the belief that everyone can bring value and contribute to an organization through employment.

Early on, we implemented multiple rounds of Customized Employment Grants to help states and the workforce development system use this strategy to assist job seekers with disabilities. We also implemented Workforce Action Grants, also known as Olmstead employment grants, to enable people transitioning out of nursing homes and institutions to seek community-based employment.

Based on lessons learned, we then worked with national leaders in the disability employment field to develop numerous resources, including profiles of customized employment in action and a competency model describing the skills needed to provide it effectively. At the heart of customized employment is discovery, an individualized assessment process which helps identify specific skills that an individual can offer employers. To this end, we also developed multiple resources on discovery targeted to different audiences, including youth, adults, veterans and even a self-guided manual, so that some people can take themselves through the process.

The Romans, the Supreme Court, and Britney Spears—Conservatorship Abuse Has Been Happening for 2000 Years

By Candida Moss: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd-because conservatorship, no matter what it is called, is about wealth and property, not people…

Conservatorship was born in ancient Rome, focusing on the power and privileges invested in the father. It was, “quite literally the patriarchy.”

his week iconic pop star Britney Spears gave stirring and emotional testimony about living under the conservatorship granted to her father in 2008. Likening her experience to enslavement, Spears said she had been forced to work against her will, compelled to enter a mental-health institution, drugged, and prevented from having children. The shocking revelations drew instant support and raised questions about the nature of the conservatorship system. How could an international star who earned millions of dollars be exploited and controlled in this way?

Recent news coverage coupled with the release of films like I Care A Lothas shone a spotlight on the ways in which the system is open to abuse. Conservatorship has ancient roots and when you look at its history it’s unsurprising that socially marginal people—mostly the elderly and those with disabilities—are susceptible to this kind of legal manipulation. In fact, some might say that was always the point.

Conservatorship was born in ancient Rome. Roman law focused on the power and privileges invested in the pater familias (the citizen father and head of household), who were seen as the protectors of minors, their wives, and enslaved persons who lived in their home. Discipline began here: Roman law invested the pater familias with the power to administer punishment and justice within his own household. It was, University of Iowa ancient historian Sarah Bond told me, “quite literally the patriarchy” and “both the young and women were seen as vulnerable and often mentally incapable” of making their own financial decisions. If the father died, therefore, then a different male relative (usually an uncle) was appointed as a guardian (a tutor or curator). With a few exceptions, adult women as well as children needed the approval and support of their male tutor to take any kind of legal action of their own. Technically, their assets were the property of the tutor for as long as the tutelage continued.

Victims recall traumatic details of child abuse at CPRI in emotional settlement hearing

By Colin Butler: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Plaintiff alleges CPRI permitted, normalized ‘violence against children’.

Victims and their family members recalled traumatic details of the kinds of abuse that went on at the Children’s Psychiatric Research Institute (CPRI) in London, Ont., in an emotional virtual approval hearing for a proposed $10-million class-action lawsuit against the provincial government Wednesday.

The hearing is to decide whether the proposed settlement agreement in the case, which would give victims anywhere from $3,500 to $45,000 in compensation depending on their level of maltreatment as children who were in-patients at the institution.

On Wednesday, Justice Edward Belobaba told the court he wanted to hear from claimants who objected to the settlement, reminding them that while their recollections are valuable in understanding the pain that was caused, they can’t necessarily be used to prove wrongdoing.

“A courtroom is not a place for truth, it’s a place for proof, so at the end of the day, you have to appreciate your stories may be true and difficult with life-lasting trauma, but in a court you only win on actual evidence,” he said.

It’s alleged the institution “permitted a culture, contagion and normalization of violence against children” by having in-patient residents regularly see and be victimized by peer-on-peer violence and sexual assaults. Patients also regularly saw “their peers being violently restrained by staff,” court documents said. 

For many of the victims, Wednesday’s hearing was the first time their suffering behind the institution’s closed doors has been made public, as they recounted to the court the painful stories of child abuse at the hands of other patients and the institution’s staff. CBC News is withholding the victim’s names as they were children at the time of their abuse.

A victim, who was sent to the institution when he was only five, told the court that the settlement amount wasn’t enough for the pain and suffering many of the victims received at CPRI. 

CDC Extends Eviction Moratorium for 30 Days, President Biden Activates Whole of Government to Prevent Evictions

From National Coalition for Low Income Housing: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Biden administration announced today that it will extend the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through July 31, and it will implement a whole-of-government approach to prevent a historic wave of evictions this summer, as NLIHC urged the administration to do. The moratorium was set to expire next week.

These actions from the White House extend an essential lifeline to millions of renters who remain behind on rent and would be at heightened risk of eviction when the moratorium expires.

Extending the eviction moratorium through July gives state and local governments more time to distribute more than $46 billion in emergency rental assistance (ERA) to those most in need. The administration’s whole-of-government effort to stem evictions and help ensure ERA is provided efficiently, effectively, and equitably can keep families safely housed and bolster the administration’s efforts to contain COVID-19. While in many areas in the U.S. vaccination rates are up and COVID-19 caseloads are down, communities with lower vaccination rates and more COVID-19 cases tend to be the same communities that have large numbers of renters at heightened risk of eviction.

Shocked by Britney’s Forced IUD? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be.

By Emily Shugerman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Perhaps the most shocking accusation from Britney Spears’ searing court hearing was that her guardians forced her to have an IUD—an implanted contraceptive device—even though she wants to have children.

But it didn’t come as a surprise to reproductive rights experts who say such arrangements are all too common—and even worse than what the pop star revealed.

Current laws allow guardians a huge amount of power over their conservatees’ reproductive lives, according to National Women’s Law Center attorney Ma’ayan Anafi. In fact, a majority of states allow conservators to enforce not just long-acting contraception, but permanent sterilization.

“A lot of people don’t know about this because people with disabilities are often not given that chance to talk about their experiences,” Anafi said. “What’s happening to Britney Spears is actually very common. What’s different is Britney Spears has a platform to share it with the world.”

Watchdog: Nursing home deaths up 32% in 2020 amid pandemic

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.

The report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found that about 4 in 10 Medicare recipients in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 in 2020, and that deaths overall jumped by 169,291 from the previous year, before the coronavirus appeared.

“We knew this was going to be bad, but I don’t think even those of us who work in this area thought it was going to be this bad,” said Harvard health policy professor David Grabowski, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care, who reviewed the report for The Associated Press.

“This was not individuals who were going to die anyway,” Grabowski added. “We are talking about a really big number of excess deaths.”

26 ‘Hacks’ That Can Make Life With Fibromyalgia Easier

By Paige Wyant: For Complete Post, Click Here…

There’s no doubt that living with fibromyalgia can be incredibly painful and frustrating. Between the chronic pain, fatigue, “fibro fog” and mood swings, the illness has a way of affecting just about every aspect of a person’s life. It can be exhausting – physically and emotionally – to cope with all the symptoms on a daily basis.

Although there isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia, some people have developed tricks to help manage symptoms and reduce everyday frustrations. We asked our Mighty community to share some of the “hacks” they use to make life with fibromyalgia a bit easier. Maybe some of these ideas might help you live a little more comfortably, too.

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “I keep my ‘toolbox’ close by. Basic medications like ibuprofen and tylenol, my prescription medications, my ice pack and my hot water bottle. I also keep a pair of fuzzy socks within two feet of me at all times. This takes much of the overwhelming feeling down to a minimum.”

ngd-And 25 more tips…

Why I’m Scared of Recovering From My Mental Illnesses

By Katie Sanford: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Recovery from mental illness is complicated. Figuring out what recovery will realistically look like is complicated. The actual process of recovery is complicated. And figuring out how you feel about your recovery can be more complicated than others may think.

My recovery is a lifelong process. Due to the nature of my mental illnesses, some, if not all, will be with me my entire life. What I’m chasing is stability, which, for me, is a state of mind where my thoughts and actions are not heavily influenced by my illnesses. Right now, I’m fighting to break free from severe symptoms of anxietyobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizoaffective disorder. It might sound a little ridiculous, but at this stage, my recovery is full of mixed emotions. I’m excited, but also terrified.

In the beginning, things looked bleak.

In the last year, every step forward in my treatment ended with me knocked off my feet and stumbling 10 steps backward. Medication changes were making only small differences. I went from doing therapy once a week to twice, and then three times a week. At a certain point, my doctor suggested I consider leaving my job and look into Social Security disability benefits. And as I continued to spiral further downward, my doctor strongly considered hospitalizing me or putting me in an intensive outpatient program.

Fear wrapped around me.

I was afraid of so many things. I feared the unknown — hospitals, outpatient programs and also putting my needs first. The cost of everything had my gut in knots, unsure if I could afford the care I needed. And I was terrified I might lose my job if my ability to function became further impaired. So, my boyfriend and I worked together and came up with a plan that would ease us into reaching a point where I could go on disability benefits without entirely bankrupting us.