Many businesses and government agencies give special treatment to people over a certain age. That age limit is usually around 60, 65, or somewhere in between. If you’re a “senior”, an “elder”, or otherwise in that category, you can usually get discounts from private enterprise on things like meals, hotels, and movie tickets. From the government, you can get a lifetime pass to National Parks for only $10.
When it comes to the justice system, seniors don’t get any breaks. If you’re accused of a crime, or sued for damages, the law only cares about your age if you’re a minor. However, in keeping with the cultural propensity to give seniors a break, many public and private agencies have programs to help seniors navigate the justice system.
Lawyers themselves may specialize in cases affecting seniors; after all, many legal issues are especially relevant to seniors. Examples include wills and estates, elder abuse, age discrimination, health care, health insurance, and end-of-life issues. There is even a National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys that helps seniors find an attorney who specializes in one or more of these areas; it also provides information about various legal topics of interest to seniors.
For seniors who can’t afford a lawyer, public and private resources are available to help. Most legal aid agencies – these are private nonprofit organizations; see our blog posts here and here – provide legal assistance and information for seniors as part of their overall programs. Legal aid agencies may be found in every state and most counties. Just a few examples of those which specifically include senior issues are California’s Orange County Legal Aid Society, Ohio Legal Services, and Berrien County Legal Services, serving Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties in Michigan.
Some areas even have a legal aid agency that specializes in senior issues. Some are regional, such as Maine’s Legal Services for the Elderly, Ohio’s Pro Seniors, Pennsylvania’s Senior Law Center, and West Virginia’s Senior Legal Aid.
Other specialized senior agencies are county-wide or regional, such as the Jewish Association Serving the Aging’s Legal Services for the Elderly in Queens, New York. California has its San Luis Obispo County Bar Association Senior Legal Services, Santa Clara County Senior Adults Legal Assistance, Stanislaus County Senior Adovcacy Network, and Elder Law & Advocacy in San Diego and Imperial Counties. New Jersey has its Camden County Bar Association Legal Advice for Seniors program. In Texas, the Tarrant County Bar Association offers an Elder Law Handbook.
In the public sector, most state Attorney General offices and many local prosecutors’ offices provide information about senior issues, although they do not provide legal representation or advice. Some examples include the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, New Jersey’s Burlington County Senior Citizens Legal Services Program, Pennsylvania’s Delaware County District Attorney’s Office Senior Victim Services, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office, and the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
You can find the most up-to-date links to these and many other sources of legal help for seniors at CourtReference, in our “Self Help and Legal Research” or “Legal Aid and Lawyer Referral” categories.