Legal Counsel for the Elderly partners with law firms on projects to explore improvements to the law, to identify case law to assist with litigation, and to develop client informational materials. In most cases, the projects seek a detailed research memo, but in some cases, we request development of a product, such as a flyer or resource guide for clients. The type of research has included case law searches, review of statutes and regulations from other states for best practices, and analysis of legislative history from other jurisdictions. The research has been utilized to assist with individual case representation, to develop proposals for improving D.C. laws, to draft comments on proposed federal and D.C. regulations, and to prepare letters to government agencies and health providers regarding seniors’ rights.
Examples of Completed Projects
Judicial Bench Card for Elderly Litigants
To assist judges handling cases involving elderly litigants, a law firm drafted a judicial bench card and bench guide. The card includes information on court representation authorized by a power of attorney, litigants with diminished mental capacity, senior property tax deductions and exemptions, rent control for elderly tenants, and the anti-discrimination provision of the D.C. Human Rights Act. The card and guide also provide phone numbers and websites for seniors, including assistance for seniors who are victims of crimes or financial exploitation. The D.C. Court’s Committee on Fairness and Access to the D.C. Courts approved the dissemination of the bench card and bench guide to all D.C. judges.
Client Informational Flyers on Benefits to Same-Sex Couples
Flyers can help inform clients about changes in the law. A law firm developed a flyer to inform clients of the change in law following the Supreme Court’s decision regarding federal benefits for same-sex couples. The flyer informs clients of the availability of federal benefits to same-sex couples, providing local phone numbers and addresses to apply for Social Security, Medicare, and Veterans benefits. The flyer includes the information that Supplemental Security Income benefits could be reduced due to the Court’s decision, suggesting that clients contact LCE with questions. LCE distributes the flyer, in English and Spanish, at outreach events. The firm also provided LCE with a detailed analysis of benefits available to D.C. residents under the revised federal regulations.
Tax Policy Analysis Helps Seniors at Risk of Losing Their Homes
The D.C. Office of Tax Revenue (OTR) had a policy of refusing to provide the Schedule H property tax credit to homeowners who had not paid their property taxes. Several LCE clients were at risk of losing their homes due to their property tax debt, and the Schedule H credit would help reduce their debt. A law firm wrote a memo explaining that the denial of the credit was contrary to the Schedule H statute. LCE sent a letter to OTR with the legal analysis developed by the firm. OTR then agreed to change its policy and allow homeowners to reduce their property tax debt with the Schedule H credit. The reduction in their tax debt will help clients avoid foreclosure and the loss of their homes.