Millions of seniors are struggling to meet their basic needs. From health care to housing to caregiving, there are not enough resources to go around, according to a new article in the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-pol-ca-next-california-demographics/#nws=mcnewsletter). These struggles will only grow as the population of California’s seniors, the fastest-growing population, continues to increase. In 2016, there were 5.5 million seniors in California. By 2060, that number is expected to climb to 13.5 million, or 26% of the population (from 14%). (more…)
Financial abuse costs seniors billions of dollars a year.
All across the country, seniors are the victims of scams, fraud, and other types of financial abuse. Seniors are targeted in all kinds of ways. A scammer on the phone pretends to be law enforcement and says you will be arrested if you do not pay unpaid fines for missing jury duty. A family member helps themselves your savings account. An insurance agent convinces you to buy an annuity that ties up your money with no benefit to you.
Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself and your assets from many kinds of financial abuse. (more…)
You may have heard of an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), or you may already have one in place. The following explains what an Advance Health Care Directive is and why it is important to planning for incapacity. Incapacity can happen gradually, such as when we near the end of life, or suddenly, such as when we suffer from a stroke or other health crisis. If not planned for, incapacity can create a myriad of problems. Taking action while you can make sound decisions will help you and your loved ones manage your care in the future. (more…)
Applications for the 2018-19 tax year are now available for the California Property Tax Postponement Program. The Property Tax Postponement Program allows eligible homeowners to postpone payment of current-year property taxes on their primary residence. (more…)
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research released a study on rent burdens on California’s seniors. In 2016, more than three-quarters of low-income seniors were either “rent burdened” or “severely rent burdened.”
An individual is “rent burdened” if more than 30% of their income goes to rent and “severely rent burdened” if more than 50% of income goes to rent. In the Bay Area, around 50% of seniors are severely rent burdened and another 25% are rent burdened. (more…)
The JFKU Elder Law Clinic is starting up again. This clinic will provide 9 lucky individuals with free estate planning, including a will, trust, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives. Clinics are on dates listed below and take place in the afternoon.
Income/resource limits for this service: income of $2,500 or less for a single person, $3,500 or less per month for married couples. No significant resources outside of the home. To sign up, call us at (925) 609-7900. (more…)
If you are renting a house or apartment, you most likely paid the landlord a hefty security deposit before moving in. In addition to keeping your rental unit in good condition, there are several things you can do to protect your rights and increase your chances of getting your deposit back.
The first is to exercise your right to have an “initial inspection.” The initial inspection by your landlord happens before you move out. It occurs no more than two weeks before the end of your tenancy. This an important tool to protect yourself from unreasonable or surprise deductions. But, you must tell your landlord that you want to schedule the inspection. You have the right to be present during the inspection. At the end, the landlord must leave you with an itemized statement. This statement must list the conditions or damage that could lead to deductions from your security deposit unless corrected before the end of your tenancy.
A recent article in the New York Times confirmed our anecdotal experience here at Contra Costa Senior Legal Services: older adults are struggling with debt. The article, ‘Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans, outlines in bleak terms the fate of many older adults due to conditions often beyond their control—vanishing pensions, high medical costs and lack of savings. The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy has tripled from the 1991 rate.
This phenomenon is a result of policy choices that have negatively impacted seniors. These include: longer waits for Social Security benefits, the replacement of pensions provided by employers with 401(k) savings plans funded by individuals, and higher out-of-pocket costs for health care. The NYT article is based on a study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, where one of the authors observes: “When the costs of aging are off-loaded onto a population that simply does not have access to adequate resources, something has to give.” While bankruptcy offers a fresh start for many, for older adults, the study finds, its protections are “too little, too late.” By the time they file, they have lost their wealth and do not have enough time to recover.
On July 18, 2018, we attended the quarterly meeting for the Family Justice Alliance, a partnership that manages the Family Justice Centers in Richmond and in Concord. CCSLS has been a partner of the Family Justice Alliance for many years, and currently we are in an active partnership to combat elder abuse. At the meeting, we learned about some new programs available to Contra Costa residents, including efforts to bring restorative justice to families in Contra Costa.
Restorative justice is a method of addressing harm or crime, which involves the community coming together to solve the issue and address the harm. Drawing upon indigenous cultures that foster close-knit communities, restorative justice has resurfaced in Western countries as an alternative to the criminal justice system that has been developed to punish offenders.
June 2018 is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
Wear purple to support elder abuse awareness!
How big of an issue is elder abuse in California?
Here in California, Adult Protective Services (APS) receives more than 15,000 reports of elder and dependent adult abuse per month, and reports are increasing.
There are an estimated 184,500 cases of reported elder and dependent adult abuse PER YEAR in California. Elder abuse is significantly underreported. For every case known to programs and agencies, 24 are unknown. For financial abuse, only one in 44 cases is known.
Help the California Association of Area Agencies of Aging and partners around the state to raise awareness about elder and dependent adult abuse. Learn about the different types of abuse, how to recognize them and how to report abuse to the appropriate local agencies.
To report abuse, call Adult Protective Services at (877) 839-4347. For long-term care residents, call the Ombudsman at (925) 685-2070.
The mission of CCSLS is to protect the rights of seniors. By providing legal services, the organization is also able to mediate poverty and improve health outcomes for the population it serves. Lawyers are uniquely qualified to help identify and address legal issues that impede the ability of seniors to remain healthy and independent.