Elder law addresses issues specific to individuals generally over the age of 65, such as the rights to social security benefits, retirement plans, drafting wills and trusts, and age discrimination.
The Social Security Administration Benefits
The federal Social Security Administration office allocates funds to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. The Social Security Administration manages a number of monthly payment programs for qualified individuals such as:
- Social Security Retirement - Social Security Retirement is administered to workers over the age of 65 who plan to discontinue work.
- Supplemental Security Income - Supplemental Security Income is distributed to individuals, 65 or older, the blind and disabled, who have limited incomes and limited financial resources.
Many people make payments into retirement or pension plans while they are employed. Generally, the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates pensions provided by private employers. Typically, there are two types of pension plans:
- Defined Benefit Plan - Under the defined benefit plan, an employer promises an employee a certain monthly benefit arrangement for after the employee retires. Employees are informed in advance of what their benefits will be after retirement.
- Defined Contribution Plan - Under the defined contribution plan, an employer makes regular deposits in an account created specifically for the employee. Often, the employer invests the funds. The employer bears the risk if the investment fails.
Wills and Trusts
It is important to draft a will or trust properly, so there is no ambiguity about how your assets will be divided upon your death. If you fail to draft a will or trust, the state determines what happens to your property, and your loved ones may not receive what you wanted to give them.
Congress has enacted laws that prohibit private persons or organizations and governments from discriminating against people because of their age. In employment, individuals are protected from discrimination by employers on the basis of age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Generally, workers over the age of 40 are protected.
Should I Consult an Attorney about my Elder Law Issue?
If you have an elder law issue, you should speak to an attorney near you to learn more about your rights. An experienced family law attorney may help you understand your options and recommend possible solutions.