The Older Americans Act is Expanding
President Trump recently reauthorized the Older Americans Act (OAA) in low key fashion, an event unfortunately overshadowed by recent events involving the coronavirus pandemic. The OAA is a significant piece of legislation that many seniors know little about even when they benefit from it. The recent authorization also changed some of the OAA’s provisions, so we believe it is important to highlight them as well.
Originally Passed in the 1960s
The original act was passed in 1965 as part of the Great Society programs passed under Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. It has seven parts (titles), but the most important are:
- Title III, which funds state programs on aging and nutrition, such as Meals on Wheels. The goals of these programs are to promote independence and provide security. About 70% of all funds go to nutritional programs under Title III.
- Title V, which addresses employment opportunities for low-income senior citizens, including volunteer opportunities.
- Title VII, which funds programs to protect elders from abuse, such as the Longer-Term Care Ombudsman program that oversees nursing homes. Florida’s Elder Abuse Prevention Program receives funding through Title VII.
These programs are expansive and benefit an estimated 11 people Americans age 60 and older every year. Although a larger percentage of the poor receive help under these programs, they are in no ways limited to the financially needy.
Reauthorized for 5 Years
President Trump’s reauthorization lasts for 5 years, until 2024, at which point the OAA will need to be reauthorized again. Funding will increase 7% for fiscal year 2020 and 6% for each year thereafter, for a total increase of 35%. Still, many experts in elder law believe that the program continues to be underfunded.
The recent expansion of the OAA will focus on the following:
- Combating social isolation. This is a definite problem with seniors, and the OAA directs the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging to devise a plan to support local and state efforts at combating it. Many seniors enjoy community meals because it gives them a chance to socialize.
- Funding home care workers. The law will provide additional grants for those who work in the home with seniors.
- Providing for those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, who now qualify for caregiver and long-term care services despite being younger than 60.
These are only some of the changes made in the OAA with this most recent reauthorization, which should allow them to help even more people. The OAA will continue to play a vital role in the lives of our senior citizens for the foreseeable future.
If You Have Elder Legal Issues, We are the Firm for You
Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group is available to help you with your legal needs. For help, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our firm remains open to serve the Villages during the recent COVID-19 pandemic and can meet with you over the phone. We can help with estate planning, advance directives, and powers of attorney, among other legal issues that affect our community. Please call 800-743-9732.