Our Mission and Goals
The mission of the NAELA Foundation is to promote the goals of NAELA and the Elder and Special Needs Law profession through scholarships, advocacy, research, and education. The Foundation Litigation Advocacy Fund’s objective is to establish good legal precedent in matters of critical importance to older Americans and people with special needs. Through the Cohn Sisters’ Scholarships for Patient Advocacy, the Foundation awards scholarships to NAELA members in financial need so that they can attend national education events.
NAELA Files Amicus Brief and Presents Oral Argument in Massachusetts High Court Case (Nadeau v. Thorn)
NAELA filed an amicus curiae brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and joined the oral argument on January 5, in support of two Medicaid applicants asking the court to require “MassHealth,” the state’s Medicaid agency, to comply with federal law in its treatment of trusts holding the Medicaid applicants’ former homes. MassHealth argues that the applicants’ right to live in the houses make the houses “available,” and thus MassHealth can value that use at the entire fair market value of the property. In its brief, written by Emily S. Starr, Ron M. Landsman, CAP (who presented the oral argument), Rene H. Reixach, John W. Callinan, and Lauren Marinaro, NAELA reviews the authoritative federal agency view that under the mandatory federal Medicaid trust rules, trustee authority to make payments of income makes income “available,” and trustee authority to distribute corpus makes corpus “available,” but there is no overlap – authority to distribute income does not make corpus “available” for Medicaid purposes. View the oral arguments.
Update on First NAELA Foundation Grant, Harrington v. Dougherty
In April 2014, the NAELA Foundation awarded its first litigation grant
of $5,000 to Neighborhood Legal Services, a provider of free civil
services to low-income and elderly residents of Essex County, Mass. The
grant was intended to assist NAELA members John Ford and Judith M. Flynn
in their efforts to obligate MassHealth to follow Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance in Harrington v. Dougherty.
The Appeals Court held that the imposition of a double penalty was
lawful. In October 2015, Ford and Flynn filed an Application for Further
Appellate Review, per Appellate Rule 27.1. The Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court denied the application for Further Appellate Review.
NAELA Foundation Awards Grant to Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities (CFPD)
The NAELA Foundation awarded $7,500 and 10 hours of pro bono work provided by the NAELA Litigation Committee to the Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities (CFPD). The grant will support litigation to confirm that individuals age 65 and older can establish and fund a pooled trust without penalty. See press release.
NAELA Foundation Will Fund Regulatory Advocacy
Effective May 2015, the NAELA Foundation will consider both litigation and regulatory advocacy requests for funding. The Foundation has already distributed several grants to support litigation that could set legal precedent in key areas of the law important to NAELA members and their clients. Providing grants to support regulatory advocacy will allow the Foundation to have an even larger impact, as many issues, especially for some NAELA Chapters, require members to focus their attention on state agencies as well.
Criteria for reviewing NAELA Foundation grant requests include involvement of a NAELA Chapter or allied organization; matters concerning issues of national significance or having potential precedential effects in many states; and matters affecting the Elder Law Bar as well as Elder Law and Special Needs Law clients. Grants may be used for attorney fees and costs, including attorney hourly work; out-of-pocket expenses; travel expenses to meeting with agency lawyers or agents; and several other categories. Read the full grant policy and funding request form.
Update on Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System
In October 2014, NAELA prepared an amicus brief that helped support the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision to allow children with disabilities of retired police and firefighters to receive their parent’s survivor benefits without the risk of losing public assistance. That brief and court decision continues to have a positive effect in the state. NAELA received news in January 2016 that the New Jersey Law Revision Commission, which reviewed the amicus brief for background information on the matter, has prepared a draft tentative report to codify the Saccone holding.