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CCSLS Celebrates PRIDE

June is Pride Month, and to honor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) elders, we are focusing this blog post on the unique legal issues facing this population.

Progress has been made in protecting the legal rights of LGBTQ people, and the recent landmark Supreme Court decision extending protections against workplace discrimination to LGBTQ employees is another step forward.

Unfortunately, recognition of equality under the law does not alone repair the harm done to LGBTQ elders over the course of decades. The historical lack of social acceptance and legalized discrimination have had a profound impact on LGBTQ people in the areas of healthcare, economic stability, and social and family support—all of which are key areas for successful aging. For example, one of the most important financial safety nets available to older Americans is Social Security survivor benefits. Although the surviving spouse of a same-sex married couple is now allowed to collect such benefits, this is not the case for those whose same-sex partner died before this right was recognized in 2015.[1] Having been denied jobs or career advancement opportunities, many LGBTQ elders are left without savings and Social Security benefits that are adequate to meet their needs.

Additionally, while the steps forward are to be celebrated, the battle for full equality continues, and setbacks are a constant threat. The Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a regulation that rolled back protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals, and health insurance companies. LGBTQ elders also face social isolation, discrimination, and abuse in nursing homes.

LGBTQ elders suffer the cumulative effects of discrimination in housing, employment, and healthcare, denial of equal financial protections, and stigma—all of which can lead to and compound economic insecurity and create unique needs for a population that remains largely invisible.

CCSLS is dedicated to recognizing the unique needs of LGBTQ elders and providing services in a supportive and understanding environment. We help our clients understand and assert their rights to protection against abuse, housing discrimination, and consumer exploitation. We also assist with advance planning through preparing Advance Health Care Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney. These documents are vital tools for ensuring that the wishes of the individual are honored in the event that they are not able to make health care or financial decisions in the future.

 

Infographic

Sources: Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, “The Future of LGBT+ Aging: A Blueprint for Action in Services, Policies, and Research,” Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging 40, no. 2 (2016); Hyun-Jun Kim, et al., “A Collaboration for Health and Wellness: GRIOT Circle and Caring and Aging with Pride,” Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging 40, no 2 (2016); Charles A. Emlet, “Social Economic, and Health Disparities Among LGBT Older Adults,” Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging 40, no 2 (2016).

 

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What To Do If You Haven’t Received Your Federal Stimulus Payment

As a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. citizens and resident aliens will receive an Economic Impact Payment (a.k.a. stimulus payment) of $1,200 for individual or head of household filers, and $2,400 for married couples filing jointly. For those with higher incomes, this amount is adjusted downward or they may not be eligible. Click here to see the income thresholds.

Please note that you need to register with the IRS using the Non-Fliers Tool by October 15 if you:  

  • did not filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 because you are low-income,
  • don’t received federal benefits, and
  • have not received your stimulus payment yet.

In some cases, the stimulus payment is being made in the form of a prepaid Visa debit card. These cards come in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services, and some people have discarded it believing it to be a scam or junk mail. If you have lost or thrown away the debit card, you’ll have to call 800-240-8100 for a free replacement, according to directions at eipcard.com; unfortunately, the instructions are not clear. According to the Washington Post, “When you call, ignore the instructions to press Option 1 to reach customer service. Instead, choose Option 2 for a lost or stolen card. Then you need to select Option 1 to input the last six digits of your Social Security number as well as your Zip code. From there, you should be transferred to a person in customer service, where you have to answer some security questions before a replacement card is mailed.”  Click here for recommendations for avoiding fees associated with your stimulus payment debit card.

 

If you received an EIP Notice 1444 in the mail or a payment date from “Get My Payment” but have not received your payment, you can request a payment trace from the IRS by calling 1-800-919-9835. Unfortunately, the phone assistance line may have long wait times.

 

If your stimulus payment was deposited to your bank account but seized by a debt collector, this is not legal in California. Stimulus checks cannot be garnished, and Governor Newsom also ordered the return of any money collected prior to implementation of the rule. If your payment was wrongfully seized and not returned, contact Contra Costa Senior Legal Services for assistance.

 

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An Important Note from CCSLS

Dear Friends of Contra Costa Senior Legal Services,

Contra Costa Senior Legal Services (CCSLS) shares the intense frustration and sadness many are feeling at the senseless death of another unarmed Black citizen in the custody of the police. We mourn for George Floyd and so many like him who have lost their lives to police misconduct.

Although a large portion of our clients are minorities in need, we know we can do more to put an end to structural racism. In our upcoming 5-year strategic planning process, we pledge to undertake a close examination of meaningful actions we can initiate at the individual and organizational level to promote long overdue systemic change, including changes to promote racial equity within CCSLS.

Despite the grief and exhaustion we are all feeling at the intractability of these problems, we are hopeful that the unity shown by the national response to Mr. Floyd’s death presents a momentous opportunity to transform ourselves into a more inclusive, peaceful, and just society.

Let us commit to do everything we can to ensure we make the most of this window of opportunity to create a society that treats all with respect and dignity.

~ The Contra Costa Senior Legal Services Team

 

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Help CCSLS Fight the Impacts of Covid-19 Locally

Spring FundraiserThe onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic is having a huge impact on seniors in our community. The Shelter in Place order has led to increased elder abuse. Scams targeting seniors are skyrocketing. Loss of income threatens a surge in homelessness once evictions and foreclosures resume.

Together with your help we will meet the increased need for legal representation. The dollars you help raise will go towards keeping older adults housed, fight abuse, and remedy fraud in Contra Costa.

Please consider making a donation to our spring fundraiser.  Contributions of any size are welcome. Proceeds will go towards providing legal services to low income seniors in Contra Costa County.

 

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CCSLS Welcomes New Executive Director Jason Schwarz

Executive DirectorContra Costa Senior Legal Services is thrilled to welcome Jason Schwarz as its new Executive Director. Jason is excited to work with our volunteers, partners, staff and board to continue the fight for seniors’ rights in Contra Costa County.

A passionate and experienced lawyer with deep experience working to improve access to justice systems for vulnerable populations, Jason has worked at DPK Consulting (DPK), a Tetra Tech company, for over sixteen years. During his tenure at DPK, he rose from Business Development Director to Senior Director and oversaw a variety of domestic and international consulting projects. Jason led efforts to diversify DPK’s service offerings and built their fundraising capacities, resulting in steady growth from $8M to $40M in annual revenue.  Prior to joining DPK, Jason worked for almost five years practicing law in Oakland focusing on real estate and business law.

Through his community involvement and volunteer experience, Jason has further proven his commitment to advancing justice issues locally. From 2016-2018, he was a member and Chair of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) to the Contra Costa County Community Corrections Partnership focusing on criminal justice and offender community reintegration. Jason participated in Leadership Contra Costa, a 12-month program organized by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce where he learned about emerging policy issues and the needs in Contra Costa County.

Now more than ever, Contra Costa County needs a strong legal aid organization for our growing senior population. The Board of Directors of CCSLS is confident that Jason, with his diverse work and volunteer experience and commitment to justice issues, will be an effective leader who will ensure the organization’s continued growth and success in the years to come.

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COVID-19 and Advance Health Care Directives – Complete one now with an attorney through CCSLS free of charge remotely.

Where can you get a free advance health care directive completed during this period of shelter-in-place/social distancing?

Contra Costa Senior Legal Services has provided many seniors with advance health care directives in the past. During this period of social distancing, an attorney is able to guide you and complete an advance health care directive over the phone or computer. This service is provided free of charge for any senior 60 years or older in Contra Costa County. (more…)

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Demystifying The Latest State-Wide and Local Eviction Orders

 

CCC Superior Court

Contra Costa County Superior Courts Are Closed Through April 30, 2020; No Unlawful Detainer Evictions May Be Filed

The Contra Costa County Superior Court issued another press release extending the courts’ closures through April 30, 2020.  During this time, they will be accepting some filings beginning April 6, 2020, including restraining orders.  However, they will NOT accept unlawful detainer eviction filings during this time.  This means that landlords cannot file any new unlawful detainer cases until after April 30, 2020.

Concord City Council Approved Very Limited Eviction Ordinance through May 31

On March 25, 2020, Concord City Council approved an extremely limited ordinance on evictions.  The ordinance prevents landlords from evicting residential or commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent or utilities, if those tenants’ incomes are reduced due to the coronavirus.  Importantly, this is NOT a complete moratorium on evictions.

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Contact Us

2702 Clayton Rd.
Suite 202

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

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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.