Sending Office: Honorable Matt Cartwright
Ensure seniors have access to legal assistance; cosponsor the bipartisan Senior Legal Hotline Act.
Endorsing Organizations: AARP, National Association of Senior Legal Hotlines, the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, Elder Justice Coalition, Ageless Alliance
The COVID-19 public health crisis has made the pressing need for accessible legal services for older Americans even more acute. As millions of older Americans remain at home, they require legal assistance to deal with issues including financial exploitation,
housing, elder abuse, and access to care. The Department of Justice is already warning about a rise of fraud schemes related to the coronavirus pandemic, and older Americans remain vulnerable to these scams.
Statewide legal hotlines provide older Americans free legal advice and referrals that are of critical importance during this national public health crisis, but due to limited resources, hotlines in many states have closed, and many others operate on limited
Right now, state hotlines are fielding a high volume of coronavirus-related calls from older Americans about:
- Emergency protection from abuse
- Illegal lockouts by landlords
- Emergencies faced by grandparents raising grandchildren
- COVID-19 scams and frauds
- Caregiver issues, including loss of caregivers due to layoffs or caregivers who have/may have COVID-19
- Employment, unemployment, benefits issues
- Advance directives (i.e. living wills), including how they can be prepared, executed, witnessed, and notarized while self-quarantined
- Medical insurance issues
The Senior Legal Hotline Act would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living to create a competitive grant program to support organizations that operate senior legal hotlines. Specifically, the bill:
- Ensures older adults are provided access to statewide hotlines staffed with appropriately trained attorneys, paralegals, and other staff members.
- Ensures older adults are provided access to a robust network of support and referral services, including from aging organizations, other legal aid agencies, and private attorneys providing pro bono legal services.
- Allows hotlines to employ a variety of technologies, such as video conference systems, web-based platforms, or e-mail to deliver legal assistance to older adults.
An identical version of this legislation was introduced by Senators Tillis, Casey, and Leahy.
Please join me in expanding older Americans’ access to legal services. For more information, or to become a cosponsor, please contact Joseph Costable at Joseph.Costable@mail.house.gov.
Member of Congress
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