Justice in Aging Launches New Bay Area Project with Two New Attorneys

Oakland, CA – Justice in Aging is pleased to announce a new outreach, education and advocacy project in the San Francisco Bay Area that will improve access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) for low-income seniors residing in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

SSI and IHSS are programs that provide an important lifeline to low-income older adults. SSI provides vital basic income support to extremely low-income older adults and people with disabilities to pay for food, shelter, and other necessities. In Alameda County 52,820 people rely on SSI, and Contra Costa County is home to 26,658 SSI recipients. IHSS is a life changing and life sustaining program for over 25,000 people in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The program provides personal care services to seniors and people with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living in order to remain at home and in their communities.

Problems exist in the administration of both programs. IHSS recipients have had to weather statewide service cuts and disruptions, as well as being subject to random denials and cuts in service that violate due process rights. SSI recipients also receive unjust denials and have to contend with a confusing appeals process. Both programs have complicated rules and application processes that leave many eligible people unenrolled.

Under this new project Justice in Aging will work with community partners to address problems and improve access to services for low-income older adults. The project will begin with targeted trainings on the details of IHSS and SSI for local advocates and service providers so that they are better equipped to serve their clients. We will use these trainings to build a coalition of advocates interested in working with us to push for systemic improvements. We’ll use their reports of what’s happening on the ground to push for changes at the county, state and federal level to improve both programs.

“This new project allows us to deepen our impact in California, particularly in the Bay Area,” said Executive Director Kevin Prindiville.  “We will leverage what we learn through our work in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to inform our efforts to fight senior poverty throughout California and the nation.”

Two attorneys newly hired in our Oakland office will lead the work. Trinh Phan comes from Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County where she advocated for older adults and people with disabilities. Trinh is a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law and Columbia University. Claire Ramsey also comes most recently from Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, where she focused on helping older clients. She also has experience in a back-up center having worked as an Equal Justice Works fellow and a staff attorney at the Child Care Law Center. She’s a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law, as well as UC Berkeley and San Francisco State.

This work is funded through a generous three-year grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation. We are grateful for their support.

Justice in Aging is a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center, since 1972 we’ve worked for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. Through targeted advocacy, litigation, and the trainings and resources we provide to local advocates, we ensure access to the social safety net programs that poor seniors depend on, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For more information, visit our website at www.justiceinaging.org.

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About Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa leads communications efforts for Justice in Aging from the Oakland, CA office. She’s focused on increasing the visibility of Justice in Aging as a national leader in the fight against senior poverty, and amplifying the work of Justice in Aging’s lawyers to defend and broaden access to health care and economic security programs for America’s poor seniors. She oversees all online communications, public relations, social media, fundraising communications, publications, and webinars.