Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Disability and Poverty Story by Mike Ervin

Mike is a friend of mine and this article is pretty good, but one thing I would add: IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY WOMEN WHO ARE AFFECTED BY DISABILITY AND POVERTY. 3/4 of caregivers are women, and 2/3 of nursing facility residents are women. Disability and poverty are WOMEN'S REALITIES.,0,3993221.story

Poverty and disability greatly correlated, new study shows

Hard economic times are even harder when you have a disability. But poverty and disability don't have to be synonymous if we design our policies well.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (a Washington-based think tank) titled "Half in Ten" states that almost 50 percent of working-age adults who experience poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities.

People with disabilities, the report says, account for a larger share of those experiencing poverty than people in all other minority, ethnic and racial groups combined and are even a larger group than single parents.

The extra costs associated with living with a disability such as purchasing expensive equipment like wheelchairs and catheters or obtaining specialized medical attention keep many disabled people and their families in poverty, the report notes.

The report also astutely observes that direct care workers who assist people with disabilities in their homes and communities are often themselves in poverty. The median income for the 3 million direct care workers in the United States is only $17,000 a year, the report says.

Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to ensure that disability doesn't spell poverty.

The first step is universal health care. The report stresses "the fundamental importance of health care reform, especially the provision of universal coverage, to anti-poverty efforts." The lack of good health insurance, the report says, "is one of the most significant drivers of income poverty and severe disadvantage." Another important step is for the United States to adopt "the kinds of paid-sick-day and paid-sick-leave policies that are already in place in all other similarly wealthy nations."

At least 40 percent of private sector workers in the United States have no paid sick days or leave, the report says.Third, we should ease the ridiculously harsh restrictions on assets and earnings imposed on those receiving Social Security Disability Income. The current Social Security policy basically requires you to impoverish yourself before you can get disability aid from the government.

And, fourth, we should pay a decent wage to the health care providers who do such a superb job in tending to the needs of the disabled.It's clear that the current economic hardship is being made much worse for many people than it needs to be due to the disregard politicians and policymakers have for the well-being of Americans with disabilities and those who work in providing them with assistance.

It's time for that to change.


Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT ( He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; e-mail:; Web site: For information on PMP's funding, please visit article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.(c) 2009, Mike Ervin Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Monday, November 02, 2009

LGBTQ Long Term Care Survey! Check it out!

Dear Colleague:

The National Senior Citizens Law Center, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), are working together to raise awareness of the issues facing older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") and live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities. We hope to identify areas where policy changes will improve care, and to find other older adults, advocates and providers interested in these issues.

The survey is only 16 questions. It should take no more than ten minutes to fill it out. The survey completely protects your confidentiality. (However, we are looking for volunteers willing to be interviewed, so please consider checking that box!)

Click here to fill out the survey: ; or if you would like to fill out this survey manually, you can print it out from the link above and mail it to:

Nancy Arevalo
National Senior Citizens Law Center

1330 Broadway, Suite 525
Oakland, CA 94612

The deadline for responding to the survey is December 15, 2009.

Whether you are an older adult living in a long-term care facility or a family member, caretaker, social worker or friend, your answers to these questions will help as we work together to fight discrimination, abuse and neglect against LGBT older adults. Specifically, you should fill out this survey if you are:

· A lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender older adult who lives or has lived in a long-term care facility;
· A caregiver of an LGBT older adult who lives or has lived in a long-term care facility;
· A family member or friend with knowledge of an LGBT older adult's experience in a long-term care facility;
· A social worker or other helping professional who works with older adults.

Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, assisted living communities and senior living facilities.
Again, click here to fill out the survey: ; and share the survey with your colleagues!

If you have any questions, please contact Heather Wollin at: hwollin(at)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

FRIDA Update; Dixon Killer Pleads Guilty; O'Leary Case Indictments; Hate Crimes Bill Signed

Since this past July, the FRIDA blog has been on hiatus due to the retiring of our regular blogger, Linda Edwards. However, have no fear, FRIDA Fighters! We continue to look for regular contributors and I will post myself as time allows. Sometimes life can get in the way of FRIDAs, but we will never desert our cause. If you are interested in being a FRIDA blogger, please e-mail me at ambity (at) aol dot com.

A key update, for those who may have missed it, is that Michelle Riley, who was accused of being the ringleader of the group that tortured Dorothy Dixon to death, pled guilty last week. See the story at this link: We do not yet know what her sentence will be, but may it fit the crime.

In New Jersey, a grand jury indicted a care giver and a state employee in the neglect-related death of Tara O'Leary, a woman with a developmental disability. See the story at

I am sickened at the continuing neglect and abuse of people with disabilities of all ages and gender identities. It bothers me deeply that the overwhelming majority of people who can claim the title of "caregiver" are women and people who identify as women, and that women attendants and caregivers are often the perpetrators of neglect and abuse of people with disabilities. I feel very strongly that if society really valued and understood the role of attendants and caregivers, we would see much less of these abuse and neglect cases. In addition, if state case workers really knew how to do their jobs and report abuse when they see it, many of these deaths would not happen.

Can these cases be considered hate crimes? Given that we now have a new hate crimes law that covers people with disabilities as a protected class, this is a question worth considering. Would Tara O'Leary and Dorothy Dixon have died if they did not have disabilities that made them easy targets for abuse? I can only guess that they would not. Did their murderers intentionally kill them just because they had a disability? That gets foggy. Were they tired? Did they have a disability themselves? Was financial stress a cause that could be cited? Seems hard to prove and I'd love to hear feedback from the community on what you think about this issue. Any lawyers or victims advocates out there with an angle on the issue?