Elder law is the term used to define the area of the law that affects Americas’ aging population. This legal specialty has grown as more baby boomers reach retirement age. Some of the laws that have been enacted to protect the senior population are:
- Social Security including disability and retirement- provides retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor’s benefits, supplemental security income, and Medicare.
- The Age Discrimination Act – prohibits discrimination against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. Age discrimination laws are enforced by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- National Family Caregiver Support Program – intended to help hundreds of thousands of family members who are struggling to care for their older loved ones who are ill or who have disabilities. This program provides grant funding for combined services between state and local agencies for such things as counseling, support groups, respite, and other community based services.
Most states also have laws and agencies whose mission is to protect the aging population and enforce laws enacted for their protection. Elder law can also include estate planning, probate, and wills and trusts.
One of the largest and most powerful advocacy organizations for issues relating to elder law is the American Association of Retired Persons. (AARP) It can be disconcerting to get a letter from them inviting you to join when you reach your 50th birthday, especially after you have convinced yourself that 50 isn’t really old, but they are an excellent resource for information about issues that are important to a retiring population. As you reach that golden birthday, it would be wise to consider consultation with a lawyer who is knowledgeable or certified as an elder lawyer.
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