What is Elder Law?

Elder law is defined as a specialized area of law that focuses solely on America’s senior citizens. Providing education, counseling, guidance and assistance to the senior population is the primary goal of elder law.

Here, you will learn about the history of elder law in the U.S., how laws have changed and matured over time, and what lawyers are doing today to help protect the rights of elders.

History of Elder Law

The history of elder law in the United States begins in 1965. In July of that year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law. The OAA is the first federal level initiative aimed solely at providing services for elders. The elder law was also enacted the same year that Medicare was created.

The OAA is one of the surviving acts of Johnson’s “Great Society” reforms. The act is divided into seven titles and no one over the age of 60 can be denied services from OAA programs.

A number of programs were created because of the OAA, including the Administration on Aging, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and the National Eldercare Locator Service. Grants to tribal organizations, as well as transportation, legal aid, home care and day care services were also created by the OAA.

Elder Law Today

A present-day attorney who specializes in elder law must have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a number of subjects, including:

  • Medicare/Medicaid Laws
  • Social Security Laws
  • Income Tax Laws
  • Estate Tax Laws
  • Gift Tax Laws
  • Estate Planning
  • Disability
  • Guardianship
  • Retirement Planning
  • Fiduciary Administration
  • End-of-Life Planning

These complex laws and planning techniques change on a constant basis, so an attorney who specializes in elder law is continually furthering their education in order to provide clients with the best and highest level of service possible.

Elder law attorneys may charge a bit more for their services, but their level of knowledge and expertise will be invaluable. Many elder law attorneys will also offer free consultation, so you will be given the opportunity to decline their services if you feel they aren’t right for you.

Elder Law and Abuse

Many senior citizens will seek and enlist the services of an elder law specialist if they are the victim of abuse. Millions of Americans are physically and emotionally abused at nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities every year. Having an attorney with a background in elder law will help you receive all the compensation you are rightly entitled to.

Elder abuse in the United States is a serious problem that doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. The number of patients dealing with physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their “caretakers” is sobering, staggering and appalling.

However, groups have been created in an effort to spotlight and help put an end to the problem. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Elder Law Foundation are some of the organizations dedicated to protecting the rights of senior citizens in the U.S.