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Legal Needs of Older Ohioans: A 2008 Survey

This survey examined the legal needs and personal challenges being faced by adults age 60+ in Ohio. Commissioned by AARP Ohio and Pro Seniors Inc., a nonprofit legal services provider in the state, the survey found a need for free or low-cost legal services for older Ohio residents, as well as an opportunity for state officials and organizations to make strides in areas to improve legal options for older Ohioans. In addition to reporting total findings of the 60+ population, the report also examines and provides trending data about three respondent subgroups: African Americans, low-income respondents, and those who are vulnerable population members.

Survey findings include:

  • The top legal issues of concern for older Ohioans are in the areas of health and health care coverage (58%) and government benefits (39%).
  • Forty-five percent of older Ohioans used (25%) or needed to use (20%) legal help in the past three years.
  • Among those who needed but did not seek legal advice, cost was the top reason for not seeking advice (61%). Most (53%) gave up and did nothing about the problem.
  • The legal services that would be considered most helpful to Ohioans age 60+ were a free legal hotline where people could talk to a lawyer over the phone (46%) and low-cost or free attorneys (44%).
  • Many respondents have experienced problems that may have needed legal assistance. Six in seven older Ohioans (85%) are concerned about finding and keeping affordable, quality health care coverage.
  • African Americans trended toward lower levels of health care coverage, more problems with consumer issues, and among homeowners, more housing-related issues than Whites.
  • Low-income respondents trended toward lower levels of health care coverage and more problems with their health care coverage, government benefits, consumer issues, and housing-related issues than non low-income respondents.
  • Vulnerable population members trended toward more problems with their health care coverage, government benefits, consumer issues, and housing-related issues than the general population.

This study was conducted by AARP using a sample drawn by Survey Sampling, Inc. Twelve thousand Ohioans age 60+ with incomes below $32,000 were targeted in a survey mailed March-May 2008, (approximately 47% of respondents met the income target), 4,715 completed surveys were returned, for a response rate of 39 percent. For additional information, contact Brittne Nelson at 202-434-6307. (48 pages)

  1. Low-income individuals are defined as those at or below 200% of the federal poverty level based on the poverty guidelines of income and family size as described by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. See Appendix B for more information. Vulnerable population members are defined as those who are homebound, receive home care, reside in a nursing home or assisted living facility or have mental or physical disabilities.

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