Department of Aging and Community Living

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Legal Assistance for the Elderly

Two major types of assistance fall under this heading.

  1. Legal Advice (with respect to elder rights - about such issues as housing rights, elder abuse complaints, insurance problems, consumer safety)
  2. Estate Planning

AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly

For over thirty years, AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE), a member of DCOA/ADRC Senior Service Network has been “making a difference in the District” as the leading provider of free legal services for DC residents age 60 and older. LCE champions the dignity and rights of the District’s elderly and assists nearly 5,000 people each year.

Services and assistance provided by LCE include:

Alternatives to Landlord/Tenant Court for the Elderly Project

This project encourages property managers to refer tenants to the project upon first identifying problems (e.g., changes in patterns of rental payments for long-term tenants, decline in housekeeping, accumulation of personal possessions, and behavioral changes) in lieu of suing for eviction first.

DC Homebound Elderly Project - “Project HELP”

This project serves DC seniors having acute physical or mental disabilities that make it virtually impossible for them to leave their homes even for medical care. DC residents who are in need of legal assistance or consumer protections can seek legal assistance through Project HELP by scheduling a visiting attorney to come to them.

Consumer and Financial Abuse Division

This division provides extended representation to victims of fraud and financial abuse. These cases usually include complaints about real property title fraud, predatory lending or foreclosure rescue schemes.

Real Property Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project

This project assists homeowners with lawsuit defense, counseling and outreach programs to preserve affordable housing opportunities throughout the District of Columbia as well as protect private homes from tax lien sales.

Legal Advice Hotline

This hotline allows DC residents to talk with an attorney about their legal problems within 24 hours. Experienced attorneys provide callers with basic information, legal advice, and referrals for a wide array of legal matters.

Senior Medicare Patrol Project (SMP)

This project is a District-wide, multi-lingual consumer education and outreach project. SMP recruits and trains retired professionals to educate Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers on how to identify and report questionable Medicare and Medicaid charges.

Pro Bono Project and Active Intake Project

This project resolves legal problems confronting older residents of the District of Columbia. The staff refers the cases to private sector and government attorneys who handle them on a pro bono basis. The project monitors all cases, such as housing, public benefits, power of attorney, to name a few, until they close.

Outreach and Self-Help Programs

These programs allow older residents, with the help of non-attorney volunteers, to obtain self help guides, public benefit check-ups, drafting consumer complaint letters, and obtain vital records and services.

Brief Services Unit

This unit handles a wide array of issues, including grandparent subsidy and custody work; debt collection defense; identity theft; procurement of benefits (e.g., food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, SSI/Social Security, Veterans pension, rental and utility assistance); security deposits; repair issues for tenants; deed transfer and probate matters; traffic ticket and license revocation defense; and contracts and warranties cases.

If you are a District resident, age 60 or older, and you have a legal problem or question, please call the Legal Council for the Elderly (LCE) Hotline at (202) 434-2120. LCE’s legal staff will work with you directly, or they will find a private attorney who will handle your case without charge if you meet certain income and asset guidelines.

DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

AARP’s LCE also hosts the Office of the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, an advocate for people receiving board and care, assisted living, and nursing facility care. The LTC Ombudsman works with residents, families, providers, and other representatives to resolve problems or concerns pertaining to quality of care and life within institutions. The LTC Ombudsman can link residents with services, offer advice on selecting long-term care providers, inform consumers about their rights and provide information and legal assistance when necessary.

To reach an ombudsman or staff member contact the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at (202) 434-2190, or you may email the DC Ombudsman Program (AARP).