Friday, September 12, 2014

First Annual Jameson Crane III "Disability and the Law" Student Writing Competition

Thomas Jefferson School of Law  (that just happens to be located in one of my favorite cities, San Diego) is hosting a new writing competition to encourage outstanding student scholarship at the intersection of "law and medicine" or "law and social sciences." The purpose is to promote "understanding" and to further the "development of legal rights and protections" of those with disabilities.  Papers may be on any topic relating to disability law, including legal issues connected to employment, government services and programs, public accomodations, education, higher education, housing and health care.

The First Annual Jameson Crane III Disability and the Law Writing Competition is open to currently enrolled law students, medical students and doctoral candidates in related fields in the U.S.

The winner of the competition will receive a $1,500 cash prize, while two second place winners will each receive $1,000 case prizes, plus the possibility of publication. 

The deadline for submission of entries is January 15, 2015. 

Additional details are available here, or by contacting Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp at Thomas Jefferson Law.  Thanks for letting us know about this new opportunity for students, Susan.

September 12, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Grant Deadlines/Awards | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tragedy on Many Fronts: South Korea Story on Aging Women Near U.S. Base

From the Associated Press in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, an especially troubling history with issues of abuse, human rights, comparative law, international relations, military accountability, and aging:

"More than 70 aging women live in a squalid neighborhood between the rear gate of the U.S. Army garrison here and half a dozen seedy nightclubs. Near the front gate, glossy illustrations posted in real-estate offices show the dream homes that may one day replace their one-room shacks. They once worked as prostitutes for American soldiers in this "camptown" near Camp Humphreys, and they've stayed because they have nowhere else to go. Now, the women are being forced out of the Anjeong-ri neighborhood by developers and landlords eager to build on prime real estate around the soon-to-be-expanded garrison.

 

'My landlord wants me to leave, but my legs hurt, I can't walk, and South Korean real estate is too expensive,' says Cho Myung-ja, 75, a former prostitute who receives monthly court eviction notices at her home, which she has rarely left over the last five years because of leg pain. 'I feel like I'm suffocating,' she says.

 

Plagued by disease, poverty and stigma, the women have little to no support from the public or the government. Their fate contrasts greatly with a group of Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War II. Those so-called "comfort women" receive government assistance under a special law, and large crowds demanding that Japan compensate and apologize to the women attend weekly rallies outside the Japanese Embassy.

 

While the camptown women get social welfare, there's no similar law for special funds to help them, according to two Pyeongtaek city officials who refused to be named because of office rules. Many people in South Korea don't even know about the camptown women."

For more of the story, see "Aging South Koreans, Once Prostitutes for U.S. Troops, Being Pushed Away from Base They Never Left."

September 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Clear "Picture" of Poverty for American Seniors

As explained earlier today in our Elder Law Prof Blog post about the most recent article by Professors Bisom-Rapp and Sargeant, lifetime discrimination in wages and opportunities has long-range implications for working women.  Along this same line, the National Senior Citizens Law Center and Half in Ten (The Campaign to Cut Poverty in Half in Ten Years) are working  together to tackle the question of senior poverty and have created an excellent two-page "visual" profile of poverty and opportunity statistics that demonstrate graphically how poverty presently impacts seniors. For example, they provide easy-to-understand graphics on how poverty among seniors disproportionately affects women, especially women of color.  The PDF document should be very useful in classrooms. 

August 25, 2014 in Discrimination, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"It's Complicated" - Examining Age, Gender & Lifetime Discrimination Against Working Women

Bisom-Rapp  SargeantThomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp and Middlesex University (UK) Business School Professor Malcolm Sargeant  both with deep expertise in employment and labor law, have joined forces to examine the long-range impact of discrimination against  women during the course of their working lives. Based on experiences in the U.S. and the U.K., they recommend a comprehensive strategy to remedy identified problems.   Their article, "It's Complicated: Age, Gender, and Lifetime Discrimination Against Working Women - The U.S. and U.K. as Examples," was published in 2014 in theUniversity of Illinois' Elder Law Journal.  Here's a  tantalizing introduction:

"This article considers the effect on women of a lifetime of discrimination using material from both the U.S. and the U.K. Government reports in both countries make clear that women workers suffer from multiple disadvantages during their working lives, which result in significantly poorer outcomes in old age when compared to men. Indeed, the numbers are stark. In the U.S., for example, the poverty rate of women 65 years old and up is nearly double that of their male counterparts. Older women of color are especially disadvantaged. The situation in the U.K. is comparable.



To capture the phenomenon, the article develops a model of Lifetime Disadvantage, which considers the major factors that on average produce unequal outcomes for working women at the end of their careers. One set of factors falls under the heading “Gender-based factors.” This category concerns phenomena directly connected to social or psychological aspects of gender, such as gender stereotyping and women’s traditionally greater roles in family caring activities. A second set of factors is titled “Incremental disadvantage factors.” While these factors are connected to gender, that connection is less overt, and the disadvantage they produce increases incrementally over time. The role of law and policy, in ameliorating or exacerbating women’s disadvantages, is considered in conjunction with each factor, revealing considerable incoherence and regulatory gaps. Notably, the U.K.’s more protective legal stance toward women in comparison with the U.S. fails to change outcomes appreciably for women in that country.


An effective, comprehensive regulatory framework could help compensate for these disadvantages, which accumulate over a lifetime. Using the examples of the U.S. and the U.K., however, the article demonstrates that regulatory schemes created by “disjointed incrementalism” – in other words, policies that tinker along the margins without considering women’s full life course – are unlikely to vanquish systemic inequality on the scale of gender-based lifetime discrimination."

Professor Bisom-Rapp is also a co-author of The Global Workplace: Internatioanl and Comparative Employment Law - Cases and Materials, now in its second edition. 

August 25, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 15, 2014

DOJ settles with Louisiana Supreme Court re ADA claims: invasive bar exam application questions

The Department of Justice has entered into a settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to protect the right of qualified bar applicants with mental health disabilities to have equal access to the legal profession.  The agreement prohibits the Louisiana Supreme Court (the Court) from asking unnecessary and intrusive questions about bar applicants’ mental health diagnosis or treatment.  The agreement also requires the Court to refrain from imposing unnecessary burdens on bar applicants with mental health disabilities, such as requests for medical records, compulsory medical examinations, or onerous monitoring and reporting requirements.

August 15, 2014 in Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Movement for Human Rights for Older Persons in Paraguay

Mexico and countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America have been working very hard on the question of whether laws are needed to recognize and promote the human rights of older persons.  This commitment was demonstrated during the 2014 International Elder Law and Policy Conference in Chicago, by Rosa Bella Caceres Mongelos from Paraguay, as one of the speakers on the panel focused on "Dignity, Equality and Anti-Ageism Rights of Older Persons." Rosa Bella Caceres Mongelos of Paraguay

Professor Caceres Mongelos is the current president of the Central Association of Retired Public Servants and Teachers in Paraguay, and has experience as a master teacher, educational administrator, and vocational counselor.  She has also taught classes at the university level on leadership.  When I asked whether her organization is comparable to AARP in the U.S., which was started by a retired teacher, she laughed and said "maybe some day."  I think she would not mind me saying that she's tiny but powerful  -- and certainly she is an articulate spokesperson for the issues her country, with a total popularion of 6.8 million, is facing.

Professor Caceras Mongelos has served as a spokesperson for her civil society organization during regional meetings for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012 and 2013 that led to endorsment of a formal international convention on the rights of older persons. 

The participation of Paraguay in international discussions of aging is forward-thinking, as it is actually a comparatively young country in terms of its overall population.  Persons aged 60 and over comprise approximately 8% of the population.  Recent news reports  indicate that more than 66% of its population is less than 30 years old.  At the same time, with their citizens already experiencing relatively long-life spans, especially on a comparative basis (average life span is now 75 according to some reports), the country will begin to see the impact of aging as a nation starting in 2038. 

The organization headed by Caceres Mongelos has adopted advocacy goals for its members, including health related goals, such as securing free health care (including mobile clinics) for retirees for critical matters such as vision and dental care, and for treatment of cancer and chronic diabetes, all issues recognized as important for the self-esteem of older persons.   Her Central Association has a project called "Hogares de Jubliados" or "Homes for the Elderly," with a goal of providing space for as many as 200 persons deemed vulnerable and unprotected.  Her organization seeks to "monitor and insure safekeeping of social security funds under control of the treasury" during the current fiscal crisis.  A better system of public transportation is another key goal.

She described her Central Association's recent Yellow Ribbon Campaign to re-enforce recognition of the rights of civil services and retirees to be free from pay discrimination under the Constitution of Paraguay.  She described the yellow ribbons as symbols for the "struggle to claim solidarity, love, better living and the light of hope for a bearable and dignified old age." Despite the small proportion of Paraguayans currently deemed older -- in their "third age" -- she said "fragility" often characterizes their life conditions, with more than a quarter of the population of older adults illiterate and with only 19% currently receiving any form of income from pension or retirement benefits. In addition, her association stresses that real attention must be paid to the needs of older persons in indigenous communities and Afro-descendants. 

In closing, Professor Caceres Mongelos called for an end to procrastination on international recognition of the rights of older persons.  She said,  "Declaring and implementing the regulations calling for dignity, equality and non-discrimination ... for older persons needs to be achieved as quickly as possible [toward] the goal of improving quality of life and respecting the human rights of older persons." 

July 22, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Updates on Programming at July 2014 Int'l Elder Law and Policy Conference

We've previously posted advance information about the International Elder Law and Policy Conference that will be  hosted this week -- July 10-11 -- in Chicago.  The organizers are John Marshall Law School; Roosevelt University, College of of Arts and Sciences; and East China University of Political Science and Law.

The conference will have an interesting format, combining presentations from a range of professionals with experience working with or for older persons, and working sessions to draft a model "International Bill of Rights for Elderly Persons, in parallel with U.N. sessions on ageing. 

As an example of the breadth of participation and coverage at this conference, my session  on Thursday focuses on "Health Care, Caregving for Older Persons and Legal Decision Making," and will be co-moderated with Professor Walter Kendall at John Marshall.  The panel includes the following topics and speakers:

  • "Dementia and Planning Death: The Challenge for Advance Directives," by Meredith Blake at University of Western Austalia Law School
  • "Social Change and Its Apparent Effect on Senior Care Services: A Comparative Study of Post-Soviet Union Russia and the U.S.," by Amy Delaney, partner at Delaney, Delany & Voorn in Illinois, and Alina Risser, a lawyer from Russia, currently studying law at John Marshall;
  • "Rights are Not Good for Older Persons in Long-Term Care Settings? Experience from the European Union," by Nena Georgantzi, Legal Officer for AGE Platform Europe;
  • "Bridging the Caregiver Gap: Does Technology Provde an Ethically and Legally Viable Answer?," by Donna Harkness, University of Memphis School of Law;
  •  "The Insufficiency of Spiritual Support of Urban Elders in China and Suggestions on Legislation," by Jun Li, East China University of Political Science and Law.

 We'll report more after the events on Thursday and Friday!  

July 9, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Does "Assessment of Need" Obligate State to Meet Those Needs?

I'm back from a fun and productive time in Northern Ireland, and feeling invigorated.  In addition to enjoying beautiful weather, great craic, and time spent with friends exploring the north Antrim coast via foot, boat and a friend's snazzy red convertible, I participated in working meetings in Belfast conducted by Claire Keatinge, the Commissioner of Older People for Northern Ireland (COPNI).  The topics were prospective laws and guidance regarding safeguarding and social care policies for older adults, connected to commissioned research by two academic teams headed by members of Queens University Belfast. COPNI Research and Advisory Team for Adult Social Care Law and Policy   

I've been thinking about one particular theme that emerged for me from the working sessions: does a government's commitment to assess need for services obligate the government to meet those needs?  In a perfect world, of course that would be the goal, but this is hardly a perfect world.  Claire Keatinge (pictured in the center, with members of the social care research and advisory teams) raised the point that too often governments may be driven by "what services are available" as the definition of need.  In other words, there is a tendency to recognize an individual's need only if the government actually has a program or package of services available.  Thus, for example, even if the individual needs one-on-one monitoring and assistance to avoid serious risk of injury from falling, the tendency of social care programs would be to indicate 4 hours per day of "need" if that was the limit of government funding. Such "backwards" assessment leaves the person vulnerable, not just from the limitations on public funding, but from the inaccurate record of need. 

We spent time talking about whether legislation or policy guidance should address both assessment of need and programs of service. The COPNI discussion helped me to realize that accurate assessment and recording of all need is critical to coordination of family, volunteers, nonprofit or church-based assistance, and government funding to meet the true needs of disabled or frail individuals. However, assessment of need still carries implications for government funding. 

The implications of assessment are addressed in an important recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in McDonald v. United Kingdom (Application No. 4241/12).  In the case, a British woman born in 1943 sustained a disabling stroke in 1999, followed by a badly broken hip from a later fall.  Ms. McDonald, who was not incontinent, applied for assistance at night with toileting; eventually she was assessed as being in "substantial need" of nighttime personal assistance and provided a funding package that permitted her to have nighttime assistance.  However, later the government office reduced the funding, appearing to conclude the cost was excessive and "incontinence pads" for nighttime use was sufficient, reducing the number of hours of service.  

Ms. McDonald challenged the reduction of services under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing the decision violated her right to respect for her private life, and that the local authority was "unreasonably and unlawfully failing to meet her assessed and eligible needs."  Several months later she was reassessed by the local authority, which then determined that Ms. McDonald's needs for "safety" at night could be adequately met by the use of incontinence pads and sheets.  Ms. McDonald framed an emotionally persuasive case that the ability to toilet in a dignified manner was a core human right.

Ms. McDonald's appeal was addressed by high courts in England, before reaching the European Court of Human Rights, which issued a decision in May 2014.  Ultimately the court concluded that during the period of time between the initial assessment of "substantial" need and the later reassessment, a period of about a year during which Ms. McDonald was provided with limited nighttime assistance, was a violation of Article 8.  She was therefore deemed entitled to a relatively nominal sum of damages (explained in a detailed portion of the opinion).  However, once the local authority's "reassessment of need" occurred, the Court determined it was without the power to find a human rights violation under Article 8.  This outcome strikes me as demonstrating the potential for governments to be driven by finances to avoid making independent, candid assessments of need. Ms. McDonald's physical conditions and nighttime needs had not changed; only the "assessed needs" had changed.

For more on the implications of the McDonald ruling, viewed by many as a "win" because it recognized a personal right protected under Article 8, see English Barrister Steve Broach's thoughtful commentary, "Context is Everything: Why McDonald v. UK is a Stepping Stone on the Road to a Dignified Future for Disabled People." 

July 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New ACL Educational Tool Helps LGBT Residents of Long Term Care Facilities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL) is proud to announce the release of a new online learning tool: Building Respect for LGBT Older Adults. The tool is designed to increase awareness of the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals living in long term care (LTC) facilities.

After completion of the online training, program participants will be prepared to:

  • Increase visibility of the issues facing LGBT individuals in LTC facilities.
  • Provide easy access to information on serving LGBT individuals in LTC facilities.
  • Encourage LTC facilities to provide opportunities for staff to take the online training.
  • Change the way individuals and facilities approach older LGBT adults.

The Building Respect for LGBT Older Adults tool was developed in collaboration with the HHS Office of Public Affairs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the ACL-funded National LGBT Resource Center, with input from aging and LGBT advocates.Read more.

Additional LGBT Resources for the Aging Services Network

Since 2010, the ACL Administration on Aging has funded Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE) to develop and operate the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (NRC), the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT older adults.  This resources clearinghouse website was recently revamped and includes great local and national resources, as well as a new database of all the organizations that have received one of NRC’s trainings. Also, the NRC’s most popular guide, A Practical Guide to Creating Welcome Agencies is now available in Spanish titled Servicios Inclusivos Para Personas Mayores LGBT. Request a copy today!

Also, read the Presidential Proclamation -- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2014.

June 24, 2014 in Discrimination, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 16, 2014

May-June 2014 Issue of Clearinghouse Review Focuses on Advocating for Persons with Disabilities

 

A United Nations treaty, civil rights, guardianship, protection from school bullies, free appropriate public education, and emotional-support animals are topics covered in this disability-themed May-June 2014 Clearinghouse Review issue. Also covered: making the most of current resources to increase legal services.

June 16, 2014 in Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Minnesota News: Court order approves Jensen Compehensive Plan of Action

On March 12, 2014, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank of the District of Minnesota issued a court order adopting and approving the Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Jensen Settlement Agreement. The agreement was the result of a lawsuit filed against DHS in 2009 alleging that residents of the former Minnesota Extended Treatment Options (METO) program were unlawfully and unconstitutionally secluded and restrained. The Comprehensive Plan of Action outlines the path that the department will take to come into compliance with the terms of the agreement.

The Minensota DHS says that it is actively working to implement the plan and other mandates of the federal court, including departmentwide training on the agreement and plan.

The Jensen Settlement Agreement, approved Dec. 5, 2011, allowed the department and the plaintifs to resolve the claims in a mutually agreeable manner.

More information is on the Jensen Settlement page on DHS' website.

 

June 1, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Discrimination, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Comparative Law Observations from Aging, Law & Society CRN: Aging Human Rights

As Becky Morgan and I reported earlier, the Law & Society Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis from May 29 through June 1, attracted terrifically interesting speakers, both from within and outside the United States. During the Critical Research Network sessions (CRN) on Aging, Law & Society,  I was particularly struck by listening to a trio of speakers from Israel, including Israel (Issi) Doron from the University of Haifa, Michael (Mickey) Schindler from Bar-Ilan University, and Benny Spanier, from Haifa University. 

Issi provided a historical perspective on aging as an international human rights issue, tracking the development of action plans under the auspices of the  United Nations from 1982 in Vienna to 2002 in Madrid. The 2002 outcome document, the  Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), expresses the commitment of 160 participating governments, including the United States,  to integrate rights and needs of older persons into national, as well as international, economic and social development policies. However, as Issi pointed out, this is a "soft" document, non-binding in nature.

Thus, the next important step is a Convention or Treaty on aging human rights, a subject of on-going discussions in international circles.  Issi saw a hopeful sign in May 2014 appointment of a new Independent Expert on Human Rights of Older Persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, by the U.N. Human Rights Council.  Rosa Kornfeld-Matte Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing and has a long career as an academic, working for more than 20 years at the Pontificia Unversidad Catolica de Chile, where she founded a program on older people. The role for Ms. Kornfeld-Matte, who has a 3 year appointment, is that of fact-finder, to provide an independent assessment of the critical issues for aging human rights as the basis for international law.  

Micky's presentation focused on the effect of Israel's use -- or relative nonuse -- of legislation adopted in 1966, the "Safety of Protected Persons Law."  He pointed to the potential role of social workers in safeguarding the rights of older adults, and suggesting that the flexibility available to the court to fashion court-enforced solutions to care and safety issues might be a better option than what is available under the more-often used guardianship law.

Benny examined some 226 decisions involving claims by older persons before the European Court of Human Rights, drawn from 2000 to 2010, concluding that although the European Convention on Human Rights does not specifically recognize older adults as having protected right, the cases examined demonstrate that individuals making age-based claims for protection are seeking -- and in some instances finding -- relief before this court.  Benny's analysis of these cases, in a paper co-authored with Issi and Faina Milman-Sivan, also from the University of Haifa, was published in late 2013 in the Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology.   

Following the first day of presentations and workshops, several of the speakers met for dinner at a local Minneapolis restaurant (Spoonriver, overlooking the Mississippi River -- great spot!), and a number of us were discussing a growing problem for international researchMany of the key journals and periodical publications for aging research are "owned" by publishers who prohibit authors from placing final versions of their papers on open-access research platforms such as SSRN.  The prices charged for individual researchers' access to electronic copies of an article are often prohibitive for academic researchers, who often need and wish to cite to multiple sources. We discussed options, such as whether authors should seek to negotiate for unrestricted  public access after an initial period of fee-paid access.  Others' thoughts on this issue?  

June 1, 2014 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Greenlee kicks off 3d World Congress on Adult Guardianship

GreenleeAsst. Sec. on Aging Kathy Greenlee helped to kick off the 3d World Congress on Adult Guardianship with truly one of the most powerful speeches on valuing our seniors that I have ever heard.  Greenlee spoke of the danger of trivializing the lives of the elderly, especially those with advanced dementia, reminding us that the loss of memory does not equal the loss of self.  I wish I had recorded her speech, but thankfully, it will be published later this year in Stetson's  Journal of International Law & Aging Policy.  Stay tuned for more reports on the Congress from your intrepid reporters, Kim Dayton and Becky Morgan!

 

May 29, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Justice Dep't Announces ADA Title II Settlement with LSAC

The Justice Department filed a joint motion today for entry of a landmark consent decree to resolve allegations that the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) engaged in widespread and systemic discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the proposed consent decree, LSAC will pay $7.73 million in penalties and damages to compensate well over 6,000 individuals nationwide who applied for testing accommodations on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) over the past five years. The decree also requires comprehensive reforms to LSAC’s policies and ends its practice of “flagging,” or annotating, LSAT score reports for test takers with disabilities who receive extended time as an accommodation. These reforms will impact tens of thousands of test takers with disabilities for years to come.

More here.

May 20, 2014 in Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 16, 2014

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Seeks Public Input on Regulations Requiring Federal Agencies to Be ‘Model Employers’ of Individuals with Disabilities

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that it is inviting public input on potential revisions to the regulations implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a law that governs employment of individuals with disabilities by the federal government. 

Responses to this Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be submitted by 5:00 pm EDT on Monday, July 14, 2014.

May 16, 2014 in Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Frolik & Kaplan: "Elder Law in a Nutshell" (6th Edition!)

It occurs to me that what I'm about to write here is a mini-review of a mini-book. Slightly  complicating this little task is the fact that I count both authors as friends and mentors.

The latest edition of Elder Law in a Nutshell by Professors Lawrence Frolik (University of Pittsburgh) and Richard Kaplan (University of Illinois) arrived on my desk earlier this month. (As Becky might remind us, both are definitely Elder Law's "rock stars.")  And as with fine wine, this book, now its 6th edition, becomes more valuable with age.  This is true even though achieving the right balance of simplicity and detail cannot be an easy task for authors in the intentionally brief "Nutshell" series.  Presented in the book are introductions to the following core topics:

  • Ethical Considerations in Dealing with Older Clients
  • Health Care Decision Making
  • Medicare and Medigap
  • Medicaid
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Nursing Homes, Board and Care Homes, and Assisted Living Facilities
  • Housing Alternatives & Options (including Reverse Mortgages)
  • Guardianship
  • Alternatives to Guardianship (including Powers of Attorneys, Joint Accounts and Revocable Trusts)
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans' Benefits
  • Pension Plans
  • Age Discrimination in Employment
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect

The authors describe their anticipated audience, including "lawyers and law students needing an overview of some particular subject, social workers, certain medical personnel, gerontologists, retirement planners and the like."  Curiously, they don't mention potential clients, including family members of older persons.  I suspect the book can and does assist prospective clients in thinking about when and why an "elder law specialist" would be an appropriate choice for consultation.  This book is a very good starting place.

What's missing from the overview?  Not a lot, although I find it interesting that despite solid coverage of the basics of Medicaid, and even though it is unrealistic to expect exhaustive coverage in a mini-book, the authors do not hint at the bread and butter of many elder law specialists, i.e., Medicaid Planning.  Thus, there's little mention of some of the more cutting edge (and therefore potentially controversial) planning techniques used to create Medicaid eligibility for an individual's long-term care while also preserving assets that otherwise would have to be spent down. 

Modern approaches, depending on the state, may range from the simple, such as permitted use of assets to purchase a better replacement auto, to more complex planning, as in states that permit purchase of spousal annuities or use of promissory notes, allow modest half-a-loaf gifting, or recognize spousal refusal.  Even though the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 succeeded in restricting assets transfers to non-spouse family members, families, especially if there is a community spouse, may still have viable options.  Without appropriate planning the community spouse, particularly a younger spouse, may be in a tough spot if forced to spend down to the "maximum" permitted to be retained, currently less than $120,000 (in, for example, Pennsylvania).  See, for example, a thoughtful discussion of planning options, written by Elder Law practitioners Julian Gray and Frank Petrich.    

Perhaps the Nutshell omission is a reflection of the unease some who teach Elder Law may feel about the public impact of private Medicaid planning?  

May 14, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Property Management, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Older Adults as Witnesses to Crimes: Should Age Be An Express Factor in Credibility?

The May 2014 issue of Series B (Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences) of the Journals of Gerontology includes three articles addressing a "relatively understudied area for the psychological science of aging: older adults interacting the legal system." An editorial introducing the articles explains (minus the footnotes): 

"In [this issue] the focus is on how aging affects what is known about cognition and eyewitness testimony.  The first article by West suggests that, based on cognitive aging alone, age differences do not contribute to worsened eyewitness accounts.  In fact, older adults may be less likely than young adults to interpolate details based on memory enhancement strategies.  The second article by Henkel, however, provides evidence that when negative feedback about memory is provided and also with misleading questions, changes in eye witness accounts are more likely for both age groups.  Among older adults, older ages were associated with lower accuracy and more changing of responses.  The third article by Dukala and Pocyzk adds the effects of an abrupt interviewing style, misleading questions, and negative feedback as factors associated with age differences in inaccurate eyewitness descriptions of what occurred, with older adults more vulnerable to changes rooted in suggestibility.  These effects were related to poorer memory rather than advanced age alone."

In his essay, Bob Knight, Ph.D. from University of Southern California, Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles, observes the range of results reported in the three articles demonstrates a need for "more work in this area." He concludes, "Care should be taken to make the legal system interviewers aware of potential distortions in eyewitness accounts due to memory changes that are more common in later life while also discouraging the stereotyping of all older adults as less reliable witnesses."

April 29, 2014 in Crimes, Current Affairs, Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SNA Blog: Tough Choices: People with Disabilities Face Housing Crisis

Here's an excerpt from a recent Blog posting at the Special Needs Alliance:

 

This is the first in a series of articles addressing scarce housing for people with disabilities.

 

The shortage in housing for individuals with disabilities has reached crisis proportions, with some special needs attorneys citing it as their clients’ number one issue.

 

“Pricing Out in 2012,” a joint study by CCD (Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities) and the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), found that “as many as two million non-elderly people with disabilities reside in homeless shelters, public institutions, nursing homes, unsafe and overcrowded board and care homes, at home with aging parents or segregated group quarters-often due to lack of affordable housing in the community.”

 

The situation results from a perfect storm of demographic trends, failed promises and budget tradeoffs. Prior to the 1970s, most people with significant disabilities lived in public institutions or at home with family caregivers. The history of institutionalization predates the nation’s founding, with the 1773 establishment of the first Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Mind in Williamsburg, Virginia.

 

Read the rest here.

April 3, 2014 in Discrimination, Housing | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Justice Dep't announces ADA Title II settlement with Blair Co., PA

The Justice Department has announced a settlement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Blair County, Pa., to greatly improve physical accessibility at the county’s polling places for individuals who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids and for individuals who are blind or have vision impairments.  The settlement agreement resolved an ADA title II complaint that the County’s polling places were not accessible.  The agreement requires the County to provide polling places that are accessible to voters with mobility disabilities and voters who are blind or have vision impairments. 

Find out more about this settlement agreement here.

March 18, 2014 in Discrimination, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 29: DD Aware Day

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and to mark the occasion, The Arc is inviting everyone with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make plans to go out somewhere in public on Saturday, March 29 to break down social barriers, dispel myths and raise awareness.

Please share this message and encourage those you know with I/DD, their colleagues, friends and families to make plans to hit the movies, the park, a local shopping center or restaurant for a day out and maybe spark some conversation in the process.T

Check the landing page on thearc.org with more information and launch an email and social media campaign to encourage folks to join in. Plus, we have a couple of guest bloggers lined up for March to share their personal experiences on the topic of social barriers on The Arc’s blog (blog.thearc.org). Spread the word using the hashtag #DDAware on social media during the month of March. And, follow us  on Facebook or Twitter where we will be sharing photos and stories from everyone’s March 29 activities.

March 14, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Discrimination, Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)