Justice in Aging is a national organization that uses the power of law to fight senior poverty by securing access to affordable health care, economic security, and the courts for older adults with limited resources.
Why do some individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits only receive $500 each month instead of $750?
In many cases, the reason is “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM). As SSI is a means-tested program, applicants and recipients must meet several financial eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis. The income and resources rules, including “in-kind support and maintenance,” are particularly complicated. These rules can cause significant hardship for low-income people trying to survive on SSI. Giving advocates the tools to successfully navigate ISM on behalf of their clients can make a big difference. SSI recipients could have an additional $250 per month for necessities like health care expenses, household expenses, transportation, and other basic needs, if they have the assistance of a representative who understands ISM and can help advocate on their behalf at SSA.
We will be sharing the new advocates’ guide from Justice in Aging, which lays out a complete explanation of ISM, uses many illustrative examples, and provides extensive practice tips for those dealing with this issue.
This webinar is designed for legal services and other advocates who are just getting started in the field and others who want to learn more about the essentials of the program.
Jennifer Kye, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Kate Lang, Justice in Aging
The webinar will place on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET.
Justice in Aging is pleased to announce that we’ve recently added two new attorneys to our team.
Late last year, Carol Wong joined us in our Washington, DC office as our new litigation attorney. She’ll be working on impact litigation, increasing our capacity to file more cases that protect the health care and economic security rights of low-income seniors. Carol comes to Justice in Aging most recently from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section.
Just last month, Sarah Galvan joined our team as an attorney on our National Center on Law and Elder Rights project. In that role, she’ll focus on legal services development, skills-based training, and technical support. She’ll also increase our support to the Equal Justice Works Elder Justice AmeriCorps Fellows Program. Sarah comes to Justice in Aging from the Center for Elder Law & Justice, a civil legal services provider in Buffalo, New York that provides free legal assistance to older adults.
Adding Carol and Sarah to our team helps us expand two important pillars of our work: litigation and training and technical assistance for legal professionals. As the safety net upon which seniors rely comes under attack, our ability to fight for the rights of low-income older adults in the courts through class action litigation is more important than ever. As the population ages and income inequality increases, it is critical that we are able to meet the growing need for attorneys trained in the top legal issues that impact older adults.
Please join us in welcoming Carol and Sarah to the team!
Carol Wong, Litigation Attorney Carol Wong is based in Justice in Aging’s Washington, D.C. office. Most recently, Carol was a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section. During her years with the Department of Justice, she litigated employment discrimination cases arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. While at the Department, Carol completed a detail to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders where she focused on improving opportunities and access to federal resources for underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Before her time at the Department of Justice, Carol was a district court law clerk for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis. She has also served on the boards of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund. Carol received her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law. She also received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sarah Galvan, Staff Attorney, National Center on Law and Elder Rights Sarah joined Justice in Aging in 2018 and is a staff attorney working on the National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER). Under a contract with the Administration on Community Living, NCLER provides training, case consultation and technical assistance to the legal and aging network. Sarah’s work for NCLER focuses primarily on legal services development, skills-based training, and technical support. She also provides training and support for the Equal Justice Works Elder Justice Fellows Program. Sarah previously worked at Center for Elder Law & Justice, a civil legal services agency that provides free legal assistance to older adults. She served as an attorney in the consumer protection and foreclosure prevention units and also worked in development and funding of new programs and models of service. Sarah is admitted to the New York bar, and is a 2009 graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School. She received her BA in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 2006.
Federal law prohibits charging Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs) with Medicare cost-sharing for covered services. Depending on state law, other beneficiaries who are fully eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid–full benefit dual eligibles–may also be protected from being billed for co-payments or other forms of cost sharing.
On February 9, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA of 2018). In addition to its budget provisions, the BBA extends and makes changes to several Medicare programs and provides funding for other health programs that support low-income older adults, people with disabilities, and their families.
Justice in Aging has prepared a summary of some of the major health provisions in the BBA of 2018, including funding for Community Health Centers and outreach to low-income Medicare beneficiaries, the Medicare therapy cap repeal, Part D “donut hole” closure, and authorization of Special Needs Plans and other Medicare Advantage changes. As these changes are implemented, Justice in Aging will continue to provide updates and analysis and identify advocacy opportunities.
President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 Budget is yet another attack on the health and economic security of older adults and people with disabilities. After using the latest tax bill to give away trillions of dollars in tax cuts to America’s wealthiest, the Administration is attempting to pay for those tax cuts by slashing critical programs that keep older adults in their homes, allow them to visit their doctors, and ensure they can meet their basic needs.
This budget would take us backwards by increasing poverty and making it harder for people to get the health care they need. It goes against what Congress wants and what the public wants. In its 2018 budget, Congress recently increased spending for important and popular programs. Those gains would disappear in 2019 under this budget.
The American people do not want cuts to Medicaid or the repeal of the ACA, yet this budget renews calls for slashing Medicaid by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade through block grants and per capita caps, as well as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As we have explained, such cuts would be devastating to low-income older adults who rely on Medicaid to support their health care needs and ability to stay in their homes, leave millions without coverage, and weaken consumer protections.
The President promised the American people he wouldn’t touch Medicare, yet his proposed budget for the next ten years calls for over $490 billion in cuts to a program that every American will need.
The budget also would make it harder for older adults to pay rent, put food on the table, and meet their basic needs. The budget proposes significant cuts of over $83 billion to Social Security, primarily through cuts to Social Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. These programs are there for people who have no or little income and are the difference between home and a life on the streets for many.
Additionally, the budget proposes dramatic cuts to nutrition assistance, eliminates funding for home heating and cooling assistance for about 6 million low-income households, and calls for the complete elimination of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides vital legal help for low-income older adults and their families.
This budget is a true window into the misplaced priorities of this President and his Administration. On the heels of a massive tax cut that will increase income inequality, this budget proposes to make life even more difficult for America’s poor older adults and people with disabilities.
By joining together we have fought back successfully against previous attempts to cut the programs older adults and their families rely on, and we will continue to fight for justice for us all as we age.
(February 5, 2018) A new report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that lax federal oversight over Medicaid-funded assisted living services threatens the health and safety of the over 330,000 people relying on these services across the country.
The report shows that “critical incidents”, such as unexplained deaths, assault, abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and other serious situations are not tracked and reported adequately or consistently. Additionally, there is no way for prospective residents and their families to evaluate the quality of various assisted living facilities because this information is not readily available.
Though 48 states provide Medicaid coverage for assisted living at a cost of more than $10 billion annually, more than half (26 states) could not report the number of critical incidents occurring in assisted living facilities.
“The GAO report only scratches the surface,” said Eric Carlson, a directing attorney at the non-profit Justice in Aging. “Despite the significant federal Medicaid expenditures, the federal government generally defers to state assisted living licensing laws, and some of those state laws are grossly inadequate to protect the health and safety of the high-need residents that receive Medicaid funded assisted living care.”
Assisted living residents need significant assistance. In most cases, Medicaid funding for assisted living is only available for persons whose care needs would qualify them for admission to a nursing home. As found by the GAO, 94% of the programs cover assisted living services for persons who need extensive assistance to dress, bathe, eat, or use the toilet.
Contrary to what would be expected for such high need residents, many states do not require any nurse staffing in assisted living facilities. The care is provided primarily by direct care workers whose caregiving education may consist solely of an initial training of 15 to 30 hours, and continuing education of 10 or so hours annually, leaving thousands of residents at risk.
The GAO’s findings are consistent with what Justice in Aging attorneys have seen across the country in working with older Americans and their advocates. Federal legislation is needed to ensure that low-income people reliant on Medicaid receive the care and assistance that they need. Congress should set meaningful care standards, with penalties adequate to ensure compliance and to protect the rights of older Americans who rely on assisted living.
Justice in Aging is a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center, since 1972 we’ve worked for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. Through targeted advocacy, litigation, and the trainings and resources we provide to local advocates, we ensure access to the social safety net programs that poor seniors depend on, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For more information, visit our website at www.justiceinaging.org.
Are you passionate about social justice? Would you like to contribute to a national effort fighting poverty among older Americans—particularly women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and people with limited English proficiency? Justice in Aging is looking for a talented Communications Associate to join our team in our Oakland, CA office.
Your contributions will help ensure that the growing number of Americans aging into poverty are able to pay their rent, buy nutritious food, see their doctors, receive the help they need at home to live safely, and get the legal help they need.
Justice in Aging is a national nonprofit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Since 1972 we’ve worked to secure access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. We provide trainings to thousands of direct service advocates a year, file impact litigation, and advocate at the local, state, and national level for policies to improve the lives of the more than 7.1 million older adults living in poverty.
This is a new position on the Communications Team to increase our impact and grow our profile. The successful candidate will be an integral part of implementing our communications strategy over multiple platforms, and will report to the Communications Director.
Work with the Communications Director to implement robust social media and earned media strategies.
Assist with digital communications efforts to maximize press coverage, drive media outreach, and build relationships with partners and grassroots advocates online.
Assist in conducting proactive, strategic media outreach that will elevate the stories of low-income older Americans and prime the environment for social change.
Work with the Digital Media Manager to design attorney-created publications, and create compelling visuals for use on social media and other channels.
Ensure digital communications strategies are data-driven by tracking and reporting out on performance metrics.
Maintain an up-to-date reporter database and assist the Communications Director in building relationships with individual reporters.
Desired Skills & Qualifications:
Strong written communication skills
Visual design skills
Experience using dominant social media channels strategically for advocacy
Attention to detail and commitment to the highest quality work product
Ability and desire to work collaboratively as well as independently
The position is full time, exempt with a competitive salary and benefits package including health, dental, and life insurance; flexible reimbursement plan; 403(b) retirement savings plan; personal days; and generous vacation policy. Salary range is $45,000-$55,000 depending on skills and experience. We maintain a respectful, collegial work environment in which we strive to hear and elevate all voices within the organization.
Justice in Aging is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to maintaining a diverse staff and we particularly encourage applications from members of racial and ethnic minority groups, women, the LGBTQ community, and others whose background may contribute to more effective representation of low-income people and underserved communities.
To apply: Send cover letter, resume, a PDF of a short document you have designed, preferably using InDesign or comparable program, and three professional references to Katrina Cohens at email@example.com by February 20, 2018. In your cover letter, please address the following in order for your application to be considered:
To promote social justice and best achieve our mission, Justice in Aging is committed to maintaining a diverse staff and creating an inclusive and respectful workplace in which differences are acknowledged and valued.
How do you think your personal or professional experience or background has prepared you to contribute to a work environment with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion?
When: Thursday, February 22 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a critical safety net program administered by the Social Security Administration that provides a very basic income to older adults and people with disabilities with no or very limited other income and resources. This webinar is designed for legal services and other advocates who are just getting started in the field and others who want to learn more about the essentials of the program.
This webinar describes the SSI program, discusses the basic rules of eligibility and how benefits are calculated, and offers useful resources for obtaining additional information.
As of January 1, 2018, dental benefits were fully restored to adult Medi-Cal recipients. Restoration means that older adults will again have access to gum treatment, root canals on back teeth, and partial dentures. This is a big win for older adults and their overall health. This webinar, Oral Health Coverage for Low-Income Older Adults, will provide an overview of the restoration of benefits and Denti-Cal coverage more broadly. The webinar will also cover other dental coverage options available to older adults, how different coverage options work together, and barriers older adults face in accessing dental care.
The webinar will cover:
Denti-Cal coverage – including newly restored benefits
Other dental coverage options – Medicare Advantage, MediGap, Cal
Barriers to care
Who should participate:
Aging and legal advocates, community-based providers, and others wanting to learn more about California’s oral health coverage for older adults.
Amber Christ, Justice in Aging
The webinar will take place on Thursday, February 15, 2018 11:00 a.m. PT/ 2:00 p.m. ET.
(January 12, 2018) Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) issued guidance to states that would allow them to condition Medicaid eligibility on fulfilling work and “community engagement” requirements. This represents an unprecedented change to Medicaid eligibility that threatens healthcare for millions of low-income persons, including older adults who are not yet eligible for Medicare, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and family caregivers.
Not only have punitive work requirements been proven ineffective at lifting people out of poverty or improving health outcomes, they are also extremely burdensome for beneficiaries to navigate and for states to administer. Requiring people to verify that they are either working or exempt from the requirement will inevitably lead to Medicaid-eligible people falling through the cracks simply because the process is too complicated, onerous or doesn’t work correctly.
CMS intends to allow states broad leeway in determining who would be subject to work requirements and what activities would satisfy those requirements. For example, while CMS recognizes that Medicaid beneficiaries may be caregiving for elderly family members, there are no required protections for caregivers. As a result, depending on how the state defines “work,” family caregivers, who are more likely to be women, risk losing their health coverage. Similarly, many people with chronic health conditions and disabilities that limit their ability to work could be excluded from coverage or face onerous verification processes to be exempted from a work requirement.
We strongly oppose this change in longstanding policy as defying the objectives of the Medicaid program and endangering the lives and well-being of those who rely on it. We urge CMS to reconsider this policy and call on states to maintain the purpose of Medicaid, protect the health of their residents, and not impose work requirements.