The Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys' mission is to strengthen, train, assist, and support qualified members in order to ensure the development, advancement and promotion of quality legal service for older Americans and to ensure that its members are the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance, and services to enhance the lives of people as they age and those with special needs. In furtherance of this mission, PAELA frequently comments on matters of public policy effecting its members and the clients we serve. The following are comments by PAELA on important current issues in Pennsylvania:
The Disabled Military Child Protection Act will allow military retirees, upon their death, to leave their Survivor Benefit Plan to a special needs trust for the benefit of their disabled child. Currently, military retirees must either waive the benefit or leave it directly to the disabled child.
Often, PAELA members are called upon to assist persons with disabilities in creating special needs trusts, as provided in 42 U.S.C. §1396p(d)(4)(A). Unfortunately, this section does not permit a capable person with special needs to create his or her own trust, limiting the class of settlors to parents, grandparents, a guardian or the Court.
In 2006, when the Pennsylvania legislature consolidated the Pooled Trust Act into the Uniform Trust Act, the legislature did not intend to change the legislative intent or implementation of the Pooled Trust Act. Under Pennsylvania's Pooled Trust Act, upon the death of a beneficiary, amounts remaining in the beneficiary's account are "(I) retained by the trust for the benefit of other beneficiaries, or other individuals with disabilities; or (II) used to reimburse the Commonwealt
The use of Pennsylvania’s filial support law in third party collections cases is fundamentally unfair and counterproductive. It does not support older adults. It is injurious to family relationships and may lead to the denial of needed care.
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Medicare and Medicaid Reform. There has been considerable focus on proposed federal budget cuts over the last few months. Many of the proposals involve cuts in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Understanding these proposals and their impact can be difficult. In July of 2011, PAELA gathered the following national experts to analyze the various proposals and the impact they would have on seniors.
Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Deficit Reduction Proposals: What’s At Stake.
PAELA has taken a position on Reducing State Expenditures on Nursing Home Care and share their public policy position with the Governor recently. Please see the attachment below for a copy of the letter.
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In a misguided effort to attempt to collect additional revenues, last spring the Governor proposed expanding estate recovery to reach property held as joint tenants or tenants by the entireties, life insurance, life estates, trusts, annuities and any “other assets in which the deceased individual had any legal title or interest at the time of death.” If passed, this proposal would have resulted in significant financial harm for the surviving spouses of nursing home residents.
The Joint State Government Commission issued a report on Powers of Attorney. The report can be found at this link: http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/resources/documents/ftp/publications/2010-14-POWERS%20OF%20ATTORNEY%20March%2023%202010.pdf
PAELA joined with NAELA and the New Jersey chapter of NAELA to prepare and submit a brief to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the plaintiff in a case involving the treatment of spousal annuities for purposes of Medicaid eligibility. A copy of the brief is available below.
This proposed legislation would amend Section 3101(b) of Title 20 to direct the disposition of small bank accounts upon the death of the depositor. PAELA members are concerned about the significant detrimental effects of this proposal. A copy of the letter that was sent by PAELA to all members of the Senate leadership can be found in the attachment below.