Thursday, May 11, 2017

The 411 on Conservatorships

You probably know Origin SC for their housing stability services.  Or perhaps you have participated in workshops in our financial education programs. In honor of mental health awareness month, Origin SC would like to highlight the hard work of our Conservator Department.

You may be wondering, what exactly is a Conservator? In the State of South Carolina, a Conservator is appointed by Probate Court when an adult has been deemed to be incapacitated.  This may include one who suffers from a mental or physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, or other cause to the extent that the individual is unable to make responsible decisions concerning their financial affairs. 

The purpose of a Conservatorship is to identify and secure all assets in order to protect the individual from possible exploitation or financial mismanagement.  A budget is then established with both the immediate and long-term needs in mind.  A Conservator determines what benefits the individual might be eligible for (Medicaid, VA benefits, etc) and would handle the application process.   The goal of a Conservatorship is to protect the client’s assets while still allowing as much independence for the client as is medically and financially possible.  

The Court generally looks for a family member to serve in this role for the incapacitated adult – however, sometimes there is no one willing or appropriate to serve in this role.  That’s when the Court appoints an independent agency – and that is where Origin’s Conservator Department steps in.  Oftentimes, when there is discord among the family, it is beneficial to have an independent agency handle the financial affairs to take the pressure off of family members.  

Assets may include cash, bank and investment accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, real estate, automobiles, preneed arrangements, etc. The Conservator must file an Inventory and Appraisement within the first 30 days, then files Annual Accountings to the Court detailing all transactions and assets.  They often must meet with the client and family and testify in Court hearings as well.  

There is a second type of Conservatorship – one to protect the assets in excess of $10,000 received by a minor.  These funds can be received from an inheritance, insurance proceeds or personal injury settlement. These funds will be managed by the Conservator until the child reaches the age of 18.  No funds can be released before that time without Court approval.

Signs that an individual might need a conservatorship include:

Withdrawing or giving away large sums of money for no identifiable reason,

entering lotteries or sweepstakes,

demonstrating a pattern of late and non-payment of bills,

buying personal property that is not needed

While in the conservatorship program, our counselors:

Develop and implement a financial management plan for the client

Advocate on behalf of the client with creditors to ensure payment of debts

Provide options for pre-need planning of funeral arrangements

And, liquidate and/or consolidate assets such as selling a home or vehicle.

If you suspect that an individual may be in need of a Conservatorship, you can contact the local Office of Adult Protective Services or your local police department.  You can also contact Iris Albright, the Director of the Conservator Department, at (843) 735-7830.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Health Care Reform and Our Clients

With the new administration, the topic of healthcare has been at the top of the debate list. The proposed health care reform significantly affects three major groups of Origin SC’s clientele. Older Americans, mental health patients, and victims of domestic violence are among those who may soon have a more difficult time finding affordable coverage.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

The second provision that would put Origin clients at risk is the elimination of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. In the world of medical insurance, the term pre-existing condition is not limited to conditions that one is born with. A pre-existing condition is defined as any health problem that was present before the start of an insurance plan. This can include innate conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or blindness. It can also include conditions that developed later in life but before the insurance policy began. Some of these conditions may already be part of your family’s history and have come about genetically. Others are a result from a traumatic event such as rape or paralysis resulting from a car accident.

Innate mental disability, socio-emotional disorders, and physical conditions resulting from traumatic events are all in the category of pre-existing conditions. Under the Affordable Care Act, people with pre-existing conditions were protected by a provision preventing companies from refusing coverage or increasing rates based on such histories. The proposed American Health Care Act would take away this legislation and would allow states to regulate protections to the degree that they individually determine.

The United States House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, May 4. The bill still has to come before the Senate, but Republican Senators have stated that they do not plan to vote in favor of the bill written. Rather, a 12-member Senate committee has been working on  drafting another health care reform bill. To alert your senators about your concerns with the potential changes, reach out to them at their contact info below:

Senator Tim Scott

Senator Lindsey Graham

Meet the Staff: Tracy Strickland


I had a good friend that was an attorney that worked with Origin SC. (At that time, known as Family Services,  Inc.)  She knew I was unhappy at the Law Firm I was working at and thought I would be good fit in this organization.  I applied and here I am. 

Since working here and doing what I do, I have planned and prepared for my future!  

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

I have been most surprised by how the organization has grown since I started. I am also amazed by the re-branding we underwent last summer.

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

Being a single parent.  I was able to learn how to be a strong independent woman!

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

Origin is known in this community for the good work that we do.  I have built very strong bonds with both co-workers, community leaders, attorneys and Judges from all over the State.  

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

My son!  I raised my son for the most part by myself.  He is now 26, a nuclear engineer and just got engaged.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meet Our AmeriCorps State and National Member: Sadie Frasier

AmeriCorps is an umbrella organization funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Within AmeriCorps, there are three distinct programs: AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), and AmeriCorps State and National. AmeriCorps State and National is the largest of these programs and has sites in every state and all U.S. territories.

AmeriCorps State and National awards grants to non-profits, faith and community based organizations, public agencies, Indian tribes, and institutions of higher education. Since 1994, more than 900,000 men and women have provided service as AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps State and National programs address community needs through a wide range of activities such as:
  • Training Citizens in disaster preparedness
  • Providing mitigation
  • Improving housing situations for economically disadvantaged people
  • Improving the school readiness of pre-k children
  • Improving the academic performance or engagement of K-12 students
  • Engaging in environmental protection work
  • Enhancing the quality of life for older or disabled adults
  • Increasing access to food resources
  • Engaging veterans and military families
Trident United Way's AmeriCorps Family Navigator Team

This is Origin SC's first year as an AmeriCorps State and National Host Site. Our AmeriCorps member is placed with us through Trident United Way's Family Navigators Program. In this program, AmeriCorps members use the Stepped Approach to assist clients in achieving financial stability. To learn more about the Family Navigators Program and the Stepped Approach, click here.

Origin SC is so fortunate to have Sadie Frasier as our AmeriCorps State and National Member this year. Read more about Sadie below.

Sadie Frasier, AmeriCorps State and National Member

Hometown: Hollywood, SC

Education: General Business, Limestone College

Favorite Hobbies: Crocheting and making pigtoe pillows and balls

Favorite Place to Visit: The beach or amusement parks, anywhere where there is NO snow or extreme cold temperatures!

Why she chose AmeriCorps: I chose AmeriCorps because I was interested in the work as well as the opportunity to receive an education award for my service.

What impact has this experience had on you?  I had no idea what to expect when I submitted my application. I started serving in schools educating parents of students on better budgeting and financial planning. Now, I am able to do the same thing at other nonprofits as well. I decided to serve a second year and was given the opportunity to work in a new school and a new agency. I can say that serving with AmeriCorps has been very rewarding. This experience allowed me to see my city in a different way and it opened my eyes to the needs of the people around me. I am so glad to be able to help people with their finances, health, and food security.

What has been your takeaway from your time at Origin SC? Serving at my agency, Origin SC, has been very enlightening. Before, I did not know of Origin and their services. This organization provides great services to the community. It has been overwhelming at times to hear and see the challenges faced by individuals and families facing homelessness. My takeaway is to be grateful for what you have. Seeing people at risk of losing everything or struggling to receive basic services has been a constant reminder of how much I am lucky to have. It is so important to remember that there are people with many more struggles than you.