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Legal Rights / Legal Assistance

 

Legal Rights

 

What are Legal Rights?


Legal rights are laws that protect people.  There are many different types of laws.  Laws that apply to everyone in the United States are called Federal laws. Some are based on the Constitution of the United States.  Laws that apply to everyone in a state are called State laws or statutes.  These can be different depending on the state where you live.

If you are a senior and/or an individual with a disability, there are extra Federal and State laws to protect you from discrimination.  Discrimination means that someone is treating you unfairly or differently just because you are a senior or because you have a disability.  Some examples are:


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What programs and services are available to protect your rights?


If you think you are being discriminated against because of your age or disability, you may wish to contact a lawyer to protect your legal rights. There are also Federal, State and private agencies and organizations that may be able to help you free of charge.



Where can I find out more?


Below are websites that offer more detail on Federal and State laws that protect your legal rights. They also tell you how to file a complaint. There are also some very good contacts for agencies and organizations that may support you, called advocacy, free of charge.

 

Discrimination Based on Disability (regardless of age)

Discrimination Based on Age, Disability and other factors

Housing Discrimination Based on Age, Disability and other factors

Employment Discrimination Based on Age

Employment Discrimination Based on Disability

Agencies that can help you :

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Legal Rights – If you live in an Institution (Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities and State-Operated Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities Facilities)

 

What are my Legal Rights if I live in an Institution?


There are Federal and State laws that apply if you live in an institution. Living in an institution means getting services to help you 24 hours a day. These services can include medical, mental healty and other services.

 

Depending on the type of institution, the laws that cover your legal rights may be different. The websites below explain your rights and tell you how to file a complaint.

 

 

What if I live in a Nursing Home?


If you live in a nursing home, you have specific legal rights under Virginia Department of Health Regulations.

 

You are also protected from being moved against your will or being discharged. Under Federal law, there are only six reasons a nursing home can make you move to another nursing home or facility (called “transfer”) or send you home or to live with a relative (called a “discharge”).

 

The six reasons are:

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What if I live in an Assisted Living Facility?


If you live in an assisted living facility, your legal rights are based on State law (rather than Federal law like nursing homes).  The Virginia Department of Social Services, Division of Licensing controls how facilities must run in Virginia and what your legal rights are according to State policy.



What if I live in a Mental Health or Intellectual Disabilities Facility such as a Training Center or State Hospital?


In Virginia, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) is responsible for running state training centers and state hospitals.  If you live in one of these facilities, you have legal rights under the Human Rights Regulations.  If you ask, you must be given a copy of these rights. 



What can I do if I have a problem (I need Protection and Advocacy)?


If you have a problem in a facility, you can contact the following for help:


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Where can I find out more?



Legal Rights – If you are Living in the Community and Receiving Certain Services


If you live in the community and receive services from a provider, your rights may also be protected.   The websites below explain your rights and tell you how to file a complaint.


Rights No Matter Where You Live

 

There are many other rights that you have under other laws and regulations.  There is also a Federal right to privacy of your medical information.  You should ask the agency that is providing services to you for a copy of their privacy policy.

 

Whether you live in an institution or in the community, you have a right to be free from physical, mental or financial mistreatment by a caregiver or other person.  The Adult Protective Services Program at your Local Department of Social Services can look into your concerns and offer assistance to stop or prevent mistreatment. They have a toll-free 24-hour Hotline you can contact at 1-888-83 ADULT (1-888-832-3858).

 



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Legal Rights – Involuntary Appointment of a Guardian or Conservator(A Program of Last Resort!)

 

What is a Guardian?


A Guardian is a person appointed by a Circuit Court to protect an incapacitated person.  An incapacitated person is someone who cannot make decisions for himself or herself.  Incapacitated is not the same as having bad judgment or being foolish.  Being incapacitated involves a legal decision by a Circuit Court and is based on facts and law. Only a Circuit Court judge can determine that a person is incapacitated and appoint a guardian.  Usually guardians will make personal and health care decisions.  They may also be responsible for other matters like where a person lives. Circuit Courts can limit the types of decisions a Guardian is allowed to make if the incapacitated person can care for some of his or her own needs.  This is called “Limited Guardianship”.

It is also important to know that once a Guardian is appointed, the incapacitated person is no longer permitted to vote, drive a motor vehicle or carry a firearm unless specifically authorized by the Circuit Court.

 

What is a Conservator?


A conservator only manages a person’s financial situations.  The authority of a conservator may also be limited, depending on the situation of the incapacitated person.  Only a Circuit Court judge can appoint a conservator.

 

 

A Program of Last Resort


Appointing a Guardian (Guardianship) or Conservator (Conservatorship) should be treated as an absolute “last resort”.  It should only be considered when no other options are left.

 

 

Where can I find out more?




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Quick Topics

Legal Rights

Legal Rights - If you live in an Institution

Legal Rights – If you are Living in the Community and Receiving Certain Services


Rights No Matter Where You Live


Legal Rights - Involuntary Appointment of a Guardian or Conservator (A Program of Last Resort)

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Virginia Division for the Aging
Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
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Henrico, VA 23229
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