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California’s Master Plan for Aging Prioritizes Elder Abuse

Gavin NewsomGovernor Gavin Newsom released an Executive Order to developed a Master Plan for Aging this June.  The goal is for the state and local government, the private sector, and philanthropists to “build an age-friendly state so that all Californians can age with dignity and independence.”

California Voters Support the Master Plan for Aging

new poll that asked 1000 California voters to weigh in on the initiative revealed that an overwhelming majority (76.2%) support the plan.  When asked their priorities, 73.6% identified elder abuse prevention among their top priorities, with 34% ranking it first, more than any other single issue.  The poll was conducted for We Stand With Seniors, a public awareness campaign co-founded by two nonprofits, West Health and The SCAN Foundation.

CEJC Calls for Spotlighting Elder JusticeCalifornia Elder Justice Coalition Logo

The California Elder Justice Coalition (CEJC), a network of 85 organizations, individuals, and coalitions, is urging policy makers to engage in elder justice.  They articulated several goals, including providing a “No Wrong Door” approach for reporting elder and dependent adult abuse.  They also want to ensure that all older adults have advance health care directives, and that individuals with cognitive impairments or dementia have supports in place.  Importantly, CEJC acknowledges that larger issues, such as access to housing and public benefits and freedom from discrimination, are critical to equality for older adults.

Contra Costa Senior Legal Services Supports Older Victims of Abuse 

Contra Costa EAPP

Our Elder Abuse Prevention Project includes a “No Wrong Door” model.  This means that elder abuse survivors can more easily access a variety of services.  Our partnership includes:

  • Adult Protective Services
  • Meals on Wheels Diablo Region
  • Family Justice Center
  • STAND! For Families Free of Violence
  • Contra Costa Office of the Ombudsman
  • Contra Costa Office of the District Attorney – Victim Witness
  • Contra Costa Mental Health Department

If you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 925-602-4179.

 

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Do You Have Your Real ID? You May Need It!

What is a REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005, and is already in effect.  But, beginning in October 2020, all states will need to comply.   There will be new restrictions on the kinds of identification that people can use to board flights and enter federal buildings.  A California issued REAL ID driver license or identification card meets these new requirements.  California REAL IDs are marked with a gold bear and star.

 

Comparing REAL ID with non-REAL ID license

Photo from https://realid.dmv.ca.gov/what-is-real-id-faq/

Do I need one?

You only need a REAL ID if you want to fly from the U.S. or enter federal buildings, such as federal courthouses and nuclear power plants.  However, you do NOT need it to apply for or receive federal benefits from organizations, such as Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration.  You also do not need it to enter the post office.

How do I get a Real ID?

Applying for a REAL ID requires proofs of identity, social security number (SSN) if eligible, California residency, and a trip to a DMV office.  Here is the official document checklist.  You can fill out the application online, but you cannot get a REAL ID online — you have to got to the DMV in person.

For more information, check out California’s REAL ID website.

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Can’t Afford a Phone? Try Lifeline!

Person holding cell phoneWhat is Lifeline?

Lifeline is a federal program to help low-income Americans get a landline or cell phone (but not both).  Lifeline provides a discount on monthly service of $9.25 per month.  There are several companies in California that provide cell phone and landline services through Lifeline.  You can use this tool to see what companies provide service in your area.

How do I qualify?

To qualify for Lifeline, your income must be 135% or less of the federal poverty level ($16,861.50/year for a single person).  However, you may also qualify if you participate in certain programs, like SSI, Medi-Cal (Medicaid), CalFresh (SNAP), or Section 8 housing.

You will need the following information to apply:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (or Tribal identification number)
  • Address

You may also need additional documents to prove your identity.

How can I apply?

You can apply online in California at https://californialifeline.com.  You can also call 1-866-272-0349 for English.  The California Lifeline program also provides assistance in several languages.

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Announcement: Estate Planning Clinic for Low Income Seniors Available Oct. 2019

Lawyer shaking hands with clientJohn F. Kennedy University is restarting its free elder law clinic in October 2019.  This clinic is for low-income seniors who want a will, trust, durable power of attorney, and advance health care directive.  To qualify, seniors (60+) must have an income of no more than $2500/month for a single person or $3500/month for married couples, with no assets except for a home.

Clinic Dates / Times:

  • October 8, 2019 – 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • October 15, 2019 – 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

This clinic has limited availability, so call soon for an appointment.  To sign up, call (925) 609-7900.   Our office will screen clients for eligibility and send them a homework sheet.  Clients must provide a $10 check in advance to hold their space, though it will be given back upon arrival.

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Do You Qualify for Tax Postponement? Applications Available in September 2019

California has a tax postponement program for certain homeowners, which allows them to postpone paying their property taxes for primary residences.  This program is available to homeowners who are over 62 years old, blind, or have a disability.  Additionally, the homeowner must occupy the home, and there must be a total household income of $35,500 or less.  The homeowner must have at least 40% equity in the property.

How does it work?

When a homeowner is accepted to the program, their taxes are postponed for that year.  The interest rate is 7% per year.  The State will place a lien on the home until the account is paid in full.

The loan becomes due when the homeowner:

  • Moves or sells the property;
  • Transfers title to the property;
  • Defaults on the senior lien;
  • Refinances;
  • Passes away; or,
  • Obtains a reverse mortgage.

Tax postponement is a limited program, so apply early.

The state will process applications in the order received.  There is limited funding for the program, so it is a good idea to apply early.  Applications will become available in September 2019 for the 2019-2020 filing period.  For questions, call (800) 952-5661 or email postponement@sco.ca.gov.  You can also contact them to join the tax postponement mailing list.

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Beware Debt Collectors Trying to Revive Zombie Debts

Debt collection is an $11 billion industry, and debt collectors will use a lot of tactics to collect.  A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted an unsettling trend: some debt collectors are trying to trick consumers into reviving old debt that is barred by the statute of limitations.  Debt collectors in California only have four years after the consumer has made their last payment to file suit to collect the debt.  Thus, the statute of limitations is only four years.  If debt collectors wait more than four years, debtors can use the statute of limitations as a defense. (more…)

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Are You Ready for an Emergency? These Tools Can Help.

Though Californians live in a beautiful part of the country, we also have fires, earthquakes, and mudslides.  After the fires in Santa Rosa in 2017, three thousand homes were lost.  Just recently, many Contra Costa residents felt the magnitude 4.3 earthquake about 7.5 miles east of Blackhawk.  With that in mind, we all should take this opportunity to take a look at our emergency plans. (more…)

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Must-Watch Videos to Protect Yourself from Scams

Scammers are more sophisticated than ever.  The FTC reported that Americans lost about $1.48 billion to scammers in 2018 alone.  Scam phone calls are so commonplace, that many of us do not even answer the phone if we do not know the number (good advice!).

While there are a lot of scams targeting seniors, younger adults get tons of these scam calls and emails as well.  Everyone needs to be aware of the signs of a scam, because once that money is gone, you cannot get it back.  News outlets and the FTC often report the latest scams, but unfortunately, as soon as one scam is identified, three more pop up in its place. (more…)

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SAGE USA Honors LGBT Seniors During 50th Anniversary of Stonewall

SAGE USA Honors LGBT Seniors During 50th Anniversary of Stonewall

LGBT pioneers share their Stonewall stories

As part of SAGE’s four-part Stonewall video series, LGBT elders describe firsthand accounts of the Stonewall uprising of 1969.

CCSLS is here to support LGBTQ seniors in Contra Costa County.  For LGBT resources in Contra Costa, call the Rainbow Community Center at (925) 692-0900.

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Contact Us

2702 Clayton Rd.
Suite 202

Concord, CA 94519
(925) 609-7900
legalhelp@ccsls.org

Events Calendar

For our upcoming events, check out our calendar.

Our Mission

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.