If you slipped and hit your head, and ended up in the hospital in a coma, who would manage your finances? Does that person have the legal authority to access your accounts, pay your bills, and handle your property? If you are a senior, you should know the answer to these questions. Anyone can become incapacitated, and planning for this can save you and your family a lot of time, money, and headache. A Durable Power of Attorney is one of the key documents to plan for incapacity. (more…)
Beginning in summer of 2019, seniors in California who receive Social Security Income (SSI)/State Supplemental Payment (SSP) benefits will also be able to apply for CalFresh food benefits. California had been the only state in the nation to exclude SSI/SSP recipients from receiving food stamps. This new law will help reduce hunger and poverty among California’s seniors.
The CalFresh food program is California’s largest social service program to help relieve hunger and malnutrition in the state. Over 4 million California residents receive an average of $130 per month to purchase food. With this change in the law, eligible seniors will be able to receive a monthly CalFresh food benefit to help meet their basic needs. Importantly, the receipt of CalFresh benefits will not count as income or resources for the purposes of calculating SSI/SSP benefits. (more…)
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.
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.