Seniors in Allegany County have a new tool available through the Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ), providing them with free brief legal services and referrals, and if needed, to more in-depth legal services in the caller's geographic area.
CELJ has worked with Catholic Charities for several years to assist mutual clients, particularly those suffering from elder abuse.
"Allegany County has few public transportation options which means seniors are geographically isolated from traditional legal services," said Karen L. Nicolson, chief executive director of the Center for Elder Law & Justice. "The Helpline exists to answer seniors' questions on a variety of legal topics, and to refer them to legal resources in their area that they may not be aware of."
The Helpline provides free legal advice in all civil areas of law, with the most common questions including consumer credit and landlord/tenant law. For many seniors, the first experience they have with poverty is when they retire or become too disabled to work, so they are often unaware of their legal rights in these situations.
"This is one of the few in the nation that immediately connects a caller to actual legal advice," Nicolson said. "Most legal advice hotlines around the country work on an appointment basis - those callers speak to a paralegal or administrative assistant, who gives them a time when an attorney will call them back. By contrast, people who contact our Helpline speak to an attorney right away, on the very first call. This is an invaluable service that provides our clients with sound legal advice and guidance, and peace of mind in what can be very stressful situations."
The Helpline 844-481-0973 is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information: www.elderjusticeny.org