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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|Wednesday, October 9, 2002
||Contact: AoA Press Office
AoA Awards Almost $1.5 Million for Senior Legal Hotlines
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging
(AoA) today announced the award of almost $1.5 million in grants to support
the delivery of critical legal services to at-risk older Americans. The funding
is for new awards and continuing Legal Hotlines that provide legal counseling
and advice to older Americans on a myriad of legal questions.
"These hotlines provide advice and peace of mind to many of our most vulnerable
seniors, who often struggle to deal with legal issues involving wills, health
care and other issues,” HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said.
AoA’s Senior Legal Hotlines offer free or low-cost legal assistance to
older people who are socially or economically disadvantaged, frail, or at-risk.
Legal staff and specially trained volunteers provide advice on legal questions
or problems, provide self-help materials, and refer older people to legal aid
offices, pro-bono, or reduced-fee private attorneys who specialize in elder
According to data reported in 2001 by the AARP Foundation, which administers
the Technical Assistance Project for Statewide Legal Hotlines, 25% of the calls
to Legal Hotlines involve wills, estates, probate, powers of attorney and guardianship;
18% involve consumer issues; 16% involve health issues including Medicare and
Medicaid; 15% involve housing issues; and 7% involve family issues.
"Senior Legal Hotlines provide valuable resources for hard-to-reach, socially
and economically disadvantaged older Americans and their families, who often
lack access to information and basic advice when legal matters are concerned," said Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell, who heads the Administration
AoA's eight new Statewide Senior Legal Hotline projects include:
Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Washington, DC. Established in 1987, this
project will test and evaluate three innovations in legal hotline delivery:
(1) increasing the productivity and decreasing the cost per case of hotlines
by instituting the “short-delay” callback method: (2) a new way
of handling brief services by using staff-supervised non-attorney volunteers
for those clients who need more than legal advice but do not need full legal
representation; and (3) developing a low-cost method of targeting hotline services
for disadvantaged populations by using non-legal volunteers to assist seniors
to access basic legal information through a website available for seniors at
community service agencies.
Legal Services for the Elderly, Inc., Augusta, ME. This project, which
began in 1992, will create new legal resources and expand access to legal services
in Maine’s rural communities through a partnership with community health
centers. The project will also build a coalition of community and law enforcement
organizations and conduct outreach and education to address issues of elder
abuse. Finally, the project will implement a pilot program to reduce barriers
inherent in telephone services. Client service delivery will be improved by
using an outcomes-based model to evaluate efficiency and effectiveness.
Access to Justice Foundation, Lexington, KY. Begun in1998, this project proposes
to expand and strengthen its existing hotline to low-income rural seniors. The
project plans to: (1) strengthen and expand the hotline’s services by
emphasizing the use of technology; (2) design a Pilot Rural Outreach Project
to demonstrate effective strategies for expanding client awareness and use of
the Hotline; and (3) establish a program to assist seniors with consumer law
issues and provide training to volunteer attorneys to increase their knowledge
of consumer issues negatively impacting on seniors.
The South Carolina Centers for Equal Justice, Greenville, SC. A new
grantee, this project proposes to enhance South Carolina’s current legal
services intake system by establishing the “Serve Our Seniors Hotline
(SOS),” which will improve access to legal services for seniors over 60
and serve as a reference bank for the state’s senior service offerings.
The Hotline will provide counsel, advice, and brief and extended service for
senior callers with legal needs. Referrals to senior service organizations throughout
the state will also be available for those callers with non-legal needs.
Elder Law of Michigan, Lansing, MI. This project will build on the success
of its existing Hotline and increase the numbers served with a traditional hotline.
It will broaden its outreach to expand awareness among seniors on how to protect
themselves from debt and steps to resolve indebtedness. The project will also
provide opportunities for seniors to find new resources for health care and
other benefits to improve their economic well-being using a comprehensive Coordinated
Economic Assistance Screening Tool focusing on Veteran’s Benefits, unclaimed
pensions, Medicare/Medicaid, state tax credits, and other benefits.
Legal Aid Bureau, Inc., Baltimore, MD. This established hotline program
will continue to collaborate with the Legal Aid Bureau and the Maryland Legal
Assistance Network in an effort to provide accessible, high-quality legal information
and assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged Maryland seniors.
The grantee proposes undertaking three major initiatives:
- improving services available to non-English and low-English proficiency
seniors by partnering with Asian American and Spanish advocacy and community
- providing callers at all intake/access points with the most accurate,
up-to-date legal information available; and
- educating seniors about enforcing
their rights in debt collection and garnishment cases.
Connecticut Legal Services, Inc., Middletown, CT. This new project proposes
to develop a hotline that will provide telephone access and high quality legal
services to seniors who have consumer problems. The hotline will be a collaborative
effort among several State agencies. Services to be provided will include easy
client access to hotline staff through direct calls or referrals; training of
AAA’s to identify issues; cross referral of clients; full service response
to hotline clients throughout the state; and extensive outreach to Hispanic,
African American, and rural elderly clients, as well as faith based organizations.
Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., Boise, ID. This project will establish
a dedicated Senior Legal Hotline that will target rural elderly with an emphasis
on disadvantaged seniors, seniors with disabilities, and Hispanic and Native
American seniors. A Hotline Community Advisory Team comprised of representatives
from both legal and non-legal service providers will assist in outreach. An interactive website will be developed to provide legal information through electronic brochures, pro se forms with instructions, and electronic intake systems. Local libraries will advertise the availability of their computers for seniors to access this website.
The following five hotline programs also received awards to continue their
statewide legal hotlines:
- Northwest Justice Program, Seattle, WA - $102,450
- Legal Services Corporation of Iowa, Des Moines, IA - $100,000
- Legal Services Organization of Indiana, Indianapolis, IN - $106,282
- Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI - $35,000
- Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. - $110,000
AoA also provided the AARP Legal Hotline Technical Assistance Project, Washington, DC with a $100,000 grant to provide technical assistance, support, information, and consultation to managers of legal hotlines.