Legal Assistance

ACL programs and services funded under the Older Americans Act (OAA) are designed to empower older adults to remain independent, healthy, and safe in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Legal assistance and elder rights programs, along with other AoA programs and services, help to promote the independence, autonomy, and well-being of older persons through legal advocacy interventions.

In addition, ACL-funded protection and advocacy systems provide critical advocacy and legal services to people with disabilities of all ages.

Administration on Aging Legal Assistance Programs

The Older Americans Act (OAA) envisions the key role of legal assistance in securing independence for and the rights of older Americans. Legal assistance programs are funded by the OAA and are available in every state, through contracts with Area Agencies on Aging. These legal programs enable older Americans to assert their rights and remove barriers to economic and personal independence and self-determination. Interventions by legal assistance providers can address the social determinants of health and wellbeing to preserve older Americans’ access to appropriate services. Legal assistance can also support older Americans’ rights to live free from or recover from the experience of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Legal assistance providers are able to deploy a wide range of civil legal remedies in the fight against elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation, from protective orders through restoration of title of property stolen by abusers. These programs also help older Americans to understand and exercise their rights, including the right to adequate and safe housing, health care, nutrition, and autonomy.

  • The Legal Assistance for the Elderly Program network can assist older adults in accessing long-term care options and protect older adults against direct challenges to their independence, choice, and financial security.
  • The Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) grants serve to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of legal assistance programs and networks. These grants support legal assistance enhancements and innovations that impact legal assistance services, practices, partnerships and capabilities. The program focuses on four key areas of legal assistance: outreach, partnerships, intake, and delivery. Current LAEP grantees are addressing a diverse set of issues in key areas, such as supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, utilizing technology to advance elder justice, Medical-Legal Partnerships, reaching under-served communities, and disaster recovery.
  • The National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) is the national resource center on legal assistance and elder rights. NCLER provides national resource support for professionals and advocates working in legal assistance, elder rights, and associated aging services networks. NCLER supports the knowledge, expertise, skills, and service delivery capacity of legal and aging services organizations through a range of activities, including case consultation, legal training, and technical assistance on issues related to OAA-prioritized legal assistance, elder rights, and capacity building.
  • Prior to 2019, ACL offered Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems grants, which helped states to develop and implement effective approaches for integrating low-cost legal mechanisms into statewide legal/aging service delivery networks to enhance overall service delivery capacity.

Last modified on 07/09/2021


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