By Elizabeth M. Crego
Legal Services of Northern Virginia is a nonprofit law firm that has provided free legal services to low-income, elderly and disabled people throughout Northern Virginia for more than 40 years.
LSNV’s elder law practice group provides a variety of services for clients 60 and older. It can provide translators and interpreters for non-English speakers. LSNV can also accommodate emergency access issues by meeting clients in hospitals, nursing homes and clients’ homes when necessary and appropriate. For applicants who have been screened and found eligible for LSNV services, the law firm may provide advice or representation in the following types of cases:
• Personal declaration documents: wills, durable powers of attorney and advance medical directives;
• Assisted living: contract, quality of care and discharge issues;
• Consumer law/debt collection: defense of debt collection cases, including garnishment;
• Disability benefits: SSI disability eligibility and overpayment issues;
• Elder abuse/neglect prevention: uncontested guardianship, protective orders, financial exploitation;
• Health care: medical debt collection defense; • Housing law: evictions; housing conditions; fair housing; subsidized housing; real estate tax exemptions and administrative hearings;
• Medicaid: long-term care coverage eligibility;
• Medicare: questions about coverage;
• Nursing home care: nursing home discharge and quality of care, nursing home contract disputes and nursing home collection lawsuits;
• Public benefits, including food stamps and auxiliary grants;
• Social security: eligibility and overpayment issues.
COVID-19 has changed the way LSNV operates and focuses its services. For now, LSNV’s offices are only open for telephone appointments and pre-scheduled office appointments when necessary. When meeting with clients, LSNV requires staff to be vaccinated and wear KN95 masks.
LSNV has also been unable to conduct workshops at senior centers and senior living complexes because those locations have largely been closed to the public or have limited access to protect their residents. LSNV is able to go to a senior living complex or nursing home when needed to serve the needs of its clients, and it has focused some of its services on the areas most impacted by the pandemic.
Those areas include housing assistance through rent and mortgage relief applications and payments to avoid eviction and foreclosure; tax advice and outreach on tax credits and economic impact payments and unemployment assistance, particularly when it comes to navigating payments during the pandemic.
Although the way LSNV provides services looks a little different, the nonprofit has continued to effectively serve seniors in the Alexandria community. During the last couple of years, LSNV has been able to meet with clients in their nursing homes and in their home to prepare powers of attorney, wills and medical directives. It also helped a client with a fixed income avoid excess debt by negotiating a settlement agreement and reduced payoff with her condominium association. In the area of housing, LSNV helped clients with disabilities and poverty-level incomes to keep subsidized housing during the pandemic as well.
For anyone looking to see if you qualify for LSNV’s free services, contact LSNV at 703-778-6800.
The writer is a staff attorney at Legal Services of Northern Virginia.