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Director: Bai An Tran, Ph.D.

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Seniors and the Law

SENIORS AND THE LAW

This Guide discusses the legal rights of seniors and various programs intended for them.  It also informs them of the benefits and special services available for seniors and provides them with contact information for numerous sources.

            The topics addressed in this guide are as follows:

1.     MAKING ENDS MEET: What is Social Security? What is a representative payee? What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? What is a reverse mortgage? Is there any special tax relief for seniors? Can I get any help paying my gas and electric bills? What can I do if I can’t afford to eat? Is there any financial assistance available for seniors who are immigrants?

2.     CHOOSING WHERE TO LIVE:  Can I get a tax break if I downsize to a smaller home? Can a landlord turn me down as a tenant because I am a senior? Can my landlord evict me for any reason at all? Can I stop the eviction if it will leave me without a home? Can I install grab bars, lower my countertops or make other needed modifications against my landlord’s objections? Can a younger person live with me in an age-restricted senior housing development? Can my landlord prohibit me from keeping a pet? If I need to be hospitalized for an extended period, can I rent out my mobile home?

3.     OBTAINING HEALTH CARE AND BENEFITS:  How can I find out more about my various health care options? Can I get health insurance after my retirement? What is Medicare? What is Medigap? How is Medi-Cal different from Medicare? As a veteran, am I entitled to a additional health benefits? Do I need long-term care insurance?

4.     PLANNING AHEAD:  How can I help ensure that my affairs will be handled my way if become incapacitated? What is a living will? Can I be barred from handling my own affairs for any reason? What is a conservator? Do I need a will? How will my property be distributed after my death? Does a will cover everything I own? What is a revocable living trust? Will my beneficiaries’ inheritance be taxed? Can I just leave my savings in a bank account for later use?

5.     DEALING WITH DEBT:  What should I do if I am having trouble paying my bills? What will happen if I simply don’t pay my debts? Should I file for bankruptcy if I cannot pay my debts? Is there anything I can do to stop bill collectors from hounding me? If I am receiving Social Security income, can my creditors get a hold of it? Can I lose my home if I fall behind in my mortgage payments?

6.     STAYING ON THE JOB:  Can I be turned down for a job or a work training program because of my age? Will I lose my Social Security benefits if I stay on the job or go back to work?

7.     GETTING AROUND:  Are the driving requirements different for seniors? Can I be reported for inadequate driving? Can the DMV simply limit my driving rights rather than revoke my license? Are there any refresher programs to help me improve my driving skills? What is a DMV medical information card? Are there any special accommodations for me if I am disabled or unable to drive?

8.     HANDLING ELDER ABUSE:  What is elder abuse? What should I do if I suspect someone is abusing or exploiting an elderly friend? Am I required to report suspected elder abuse? Is there anyone who will check on my elderly father’s well-being for me? What will happen if someone finds out that my grown child is hurting me? Is domestic violence the same as elder abuse? What can I do to protect myself from an abusive caregiver or spouse?

9.     AVOIDING CONSUMER SCAMS:  How can I avoid being solicited by telemarketing callers and marketing mail? What is identity theft? How can I keep my Social Security number confidential? What should I do if someone steals my credit card? What should I do if I receive mail-order merchandise that I never ordered?

10.  GETTING DIVORCED OR REMARRIED:  If I get divorced, can I still get Social Security benefits on my husband’s work record? Will I continue to receive Social Security benefits as a widow (or widower) if I remarry? Do I need to change my will in order to remove my ex-spouse as beneficiary? Is it true that I will pay higher taxes if I remarry?

11.  RAISING YOUR GRANDCHILDREN:  Should I seek guardianship of my grandchildren if I am raising them? How do I become a guardian? Is there any financial assistance available for my grandchildren? Do I have any right to visit my grandchildren?

12.  FINDING A CAREGIVER OR NURSING HOME:  How do I find help for my elderly mother who wants to continue living in her own home? Will Medicare cover the costs of a caregiver? What other assistance is available for those who are elderly and homebound? Where can I find information on nursing homes? Will Medicare pay some of my mother’s nursing home expenses? If my elderly mother gives away her assets, will Medi-Cal pay for a nursing home? Is there any assistance available if I take time off to care for my ailing mother? Am I legally required to support my penniless, bedridden father? What is hospice care?

13.  LOSING A SPOUSE OR PARENT

14.  GETTING LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Please click Seniors and the Law to read the guide.

Ba D. Tran
Attorney at Law

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