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Understanding Your Rights as a Senior Citizen

As we grow older, it is important to keep in mind that there are certain rights and protections that come with age. Whether it's health insurance and financial security or protection from discrimination and abuse, seniors have access to a wide range of resources and legal safeguards. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk through your essential rights as an older adult.

1. Medicare

Once you reach the age of 65, you are eligible for Medicare in the United States. Medicare provides older adults with health insurance and generally covers hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription medications and other types of medical care. There are four main types of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Part A focuses on hospital and inpatient care, Part B covers outpatient and medical services, Part C provides Medicare Advantage plans with additional benefits, and Part D is dedicated to prescription drug coverage. As each type covers different aspects of healthcare, it is crucial to select the option that best suits your needs. Taking stock of your health needs and consulting with medical experts may be necessary. For any other questions regarding Medicare eligibility and coverage, it is typically advised to speak with a specialized attorney.

2. Social Security

The social security program offers financial support and security to eligible individuals and their families. Individuals may start claiming social security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. If you choose to start receiving retirement benefits before your designated retirement age, which is typically 66 or 67 years old, your monthly payments will be reduced. Moreover, social security offers disability benefits to those who are unable to work due to severe medical conditions that are expected to last for at least one year or result in death. Lastly, in the unfortunate event of an individual’s death, social security may grant survivor benefits to eligible family members that can provide stability during a difficult time.

Understanding eligibility requirements, benefit formulas, and payout options for Social Security is key for anyone planning their retirement finances. 

3. Protection from Discrimination in the Workplace

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals aged 40 and over from being discriminated against in the workplace based on their age. It applies to all aspects of employment including hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation and terms or conditions of employment. According to this law, employers cannot make employment-related decisions based solely on age. Simply put, age must be considered irrelevant to job performance when making decisions. 

If you feel you have experienced age discrimination in your workplace, it is critical to remember that you have rights that should be protected. Consider working with an experienced attorney to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the entity that enforces the ADEA.

4. Housing Rights

According to the Fair Housing Act of 1988, senior citizens have the right to fair housing and protection against housing discrimination. Landlords or real estate agents are prohibited from discriminating against a current or potential tenant by refusing to renew a lease or rent a property on the sole basis of age or any kind of disability. Further, under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications for tenants with disabilities. This allows seniors with impairments to live comfortably and safely in their homes. Common accommodations include assigned parking spaces, ramps, grab bars in bathrooms, and allowing service animals.

5. Elder Abuse Protections

Elder abuse can come in many forms, such as physical, emotional, mental or financial. It can have serious consequences on an older adult’s life and cause irreparable damage. Fortunately, there are several protections in place that prevent elder abuse from happening and protect victims. The Older Americans Act includes provisions that prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. The law promotes caregiver support and elder abuse prevention while offering legal support for older adults.

All 50 states have Adult Protective Services (APS), which play an integral role in assessing the safety of older adults by investigating reports of elder abuse and intervening when necessary. Moreover, in many states, in many states, healthcare professionals, social workers, and other individuals who work closely with older adults are legally obligated to report suspected elder abuse to APS or law enforcement. This mandatory reporting system helps ensure that cases of abuse are promptly addressed.

6. Consumer Protection

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to fraud and scams, which can lead to severe financial exploitation. Thankfully, the federal government and many states have passed laws to protect older people as consumers. For example, there are laws against financial exploitation, telemarketing scams and misleading ads. With the help of these protections, senior consumers that have fallen victim to a scam may be entitled to reimbursement in addition to the return of property or assets. Seniors who have experienced any type of financial exploitation should contact an elder law attorney as soon as possible to ensure the best possible outcome.

Seeking Justice

Your rights and protections as a senior citizen extend far beyond what was listed in this article. In order to achieve a better understanding of your rights, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of Attorney At Law’s top-tier elder law attorneys now. Your lawyer will help you exercise your rights, seek justice in cases of abuse or exploitation, and assist in navigating the legal complexities of aging.

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