A new federal grant totaling $91,390 each year for four years will allow the Gonzaga University School of Law’s Elder Law Clinic to resolve legal issues for up to 1,000 new elderly clients through 2017. The Clinic began in 1980 when the legal specialty was starting to emerge. Now, its 24 to 30 second- and third-year Gonzaga law students, along with one paralegal, resolve some 250 cases each year. In addition, they advise another 400-500 clients.
The Clinic handles a wide variety of legal issues for the elderly involving housing, consumer fraud, abuse, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, Medicaid, age discrimination, pensions, protective services, and more, said Clinic Director and GU Law Professor Larry Weiser.
“The Elder Law clinic is unique in that many of the cases cross over to a variety of practice areas,” Weiser said. “Most of the cases we take are individuals that are just having a difficult time, and we can offer a helping hand. It is a unique chance to make a real impact in the community.”
The Older Americans Act, reauthorized in 2006, established a wide variety of support services for senior citizens. Today, the legislation is coordinated through nearly 700 agencies, some 20,000 service providers, 244 Tribal organizations, and two native Hawaiian organizations. There are fewer than a dozen entities that provide services similar to what the Gonzaga Elder Law Clinic provides.
Low-income individuals 60 years of age and older may apply directly to the Clinic for assistance by calling (509) 313-5791.