Monday, October 29, 2007

Federal Grant for Seniors' Legal Services in PA

On October 29, 2007, the PA Department of Aging issued a Press Release noting award of a 3-year federal grant to support legal services for needy seniors. See: "Pennsylvania Receives Federal Grant to Help Older Adults Who Need Legal Services".

More older Pennsylvanians who need legal services will be able to get them with the help of a $100,000 federal grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging. Similar funding will also be available for the second and third years of the project.

The secretary highlighted the challenges in securing legal representation faced by any older Pennsylvanians – especially the low-income, those living in rural areas, and seniors with limited English language proficiency or physical limitations.

One of the Department’s goals is to promote a system that better coordinates available legal services, including the Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Helpline, law firms’ pro bono activities, legal aid clinics operated by law schools and bar association activities.

The department will work closely with the Philadelphia-based SeniorLAW Center to develop a program of delivery systems and strategies that will result in improved access to legal advice and representation. * * *

According to its website, the "SeniorLAW Center protects the legal rights and interests of seniors in need, providing free legal services, community legal education, professional training, advice, information and referral services, and advocacy." It has offered such services since 1978.

In addition, it operates the Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Helpline (1-877-PA SR LAW; 1-877-727-7529), from its facilities located at 100 South Broad Street, Suite 1810, Philadelphia, PA 19110 (Ofc: 215-988-1244; Fax: 215-988-1243).

The PA SeniorLAW Center (formerly the "Senior Citizen Judicare Project") provides advisories and resources on its website regarding areas of law of particular concern to seniors:
After reviewing that list of legal concerns affecting the elderly, the comment made in the Press Release by Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower -- who reflected on the use of the new legal services grant money -- makes sense:
“Our goal is to more effectively connect older Pennsylvanians with free and low-cost legal services to help them avoid legal pitfalls that may threaten their independence, such as predatory lending practices or consumer scams,” said Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower.

“We also want to ensure that eligible older adults have access to programs that promote their safety and health, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and disability benefits.”
Legal clinics in Pennsylvania that address elder law matters -- many of them associated with law schools, such as the Penn State Dickinson Elder Law Clinic, the University of Pittsburgh's Civil Practice Clinic, and the Widener University Law School's Civil Law Clinic -- should also welcome announcement of the new funding.