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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Legal Assistance—Title III-B Providers

Authorizing Legislation: Title III-B, Section 321, of the Older Americans Act, as amended

The Purpose of the Program and How it Works

Legal assistance provided under Title III-B is part of the essential core of AoA’s legal assistance and elder rights programs. The Title III-B legal services network can provide important assistance for older persons in accessing long-term care options and other community-based services. Legal services under Title III-B also protect older persons against direct challenges to their independence, choice, and financial security. These legal services are specifically targeted to “older individuals with economic or social needs.”

There are approximately 1,000 OAA-funded legal services providers nationwide, which provide nearly one million hours of legal assistance per year. Areas of legal assistance provided by the Title III-B legal services network may include:

  • Legal assistance for older persons to access public benefits (including SS/SSI/SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare, veterans benefits and unemployment compensation)
  • Legal assistance for older persons to draft advance directives and designate surrogate decision makers who will effectuate their wishes if they become incapacitated
  • Legal assistance on issues related to guardianship with a focus on representation for older persons who are the subject of guardianship actions
  • Legal assistance for older persons to access available housing options, including low income housing programs that allow them to stay independent in their homes and communities
  • Legal assistance for older persons facing foreclosure or eviction proceedings that jeopardize their ability to stay independent in their homes and communities
  • Legal assistance for older persons to gain access to the full benefit of appropriate long-term care private financing options
  • Legal assistance for older persons to maintain their long term financial solvency and economic security
  • Legal assistance to ensure elder rights protections for older persons transferring from long-term care (LTC) facilities to home and community-based care
  • Legal assistance for older persons who have experienced elder abuse, including consumer fraud and the financial exploitation of older persons

The legal assistance provided to thousands of older persons each year has a clear and direct positive impact on their ability to stay independent in their homes and communities, with optimized choice and individual autonomy, for as long as possible. The following examples demonstrate the benefit of AoA’s legal services programs:

  • A 73-year-old woman was contacted by a telemarketer and invited to join a discount buyers club. She told the company she was not interested. However, when her checks began bouncing, she contacted her bank and found that an electronic transfer to the buyers club had been made. Intervention by senior legal services led to a refund of all her money plus additional expenses.
  • A legal provider assisted an elderly woman in obtaining her social security funds after they had been garnished from an account jointly held with her son. The son had a judgment against him and the creditor took action against the account. The elderly woman was a resident of a nursing facility and the non-payment of her bill might have caused her to be discharged.
  • An elderly widow was being financially exploited. The legal provider was able to cancel legal instruments that had been forged by the abuser such as a financial power of attorney and deed to the house.
  • An 80-year-old man found himself the proposed ward under a guardianship petition. He did not believe that he needed a guardian. The legal provider defended the elderly man against imposition of a guardianship by showing that the standards for granting a guardianship had not been met.
  • An elderly couple was threatened with eviction. The legal provider’s attorney informed them of what was required under law to evict tenants. The couple was relieved to know that they did not have to move simply because the landlord told them to leave their residence.

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Data Highlight Extensive Services provided to seniors

Units of service representing one hour of legal service provided:

FY 2006968,757
FY 2007943,757
FY 2008920,397

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Funding History

FY 2006$24,746,629
FY 2007$25,252,261
FY 2008$24,800,000

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Resources and Useful links

Last Modified: 7/22/2016