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Rosa is a senior who faced losing her home when she lost her I.D. card and fell behind on rent because she did not know how to access her bank account without it. LSC grantee Essex-Newark Legal Services provided her much-needed legal help.

Many low-income seniors do not get the legal help they need.

Low-income seniors did not receive any or enough legal help for 91% of their civil legal problems in the past year.

The 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey showed that 62% of low-income seniors (aged 65 years and older) and 70% of low-income senior households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the past year. The most common problems related to consumer issues, health care, and income maintenance. Low-income households seniors sought legal help for 26% of the problems that substantially affected them.

Scroll down for an infographic summarizing key findings related to low-income senior households or download a PDF of the infographic.

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Snapshot of Key Findings for:

Seniors

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Today’s Low-income America

7.6 million seniors have household incomes below 125% of poverty.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2021 Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

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The Prevalence of Civil Legal Problems

70% of low-income senior households had at least 1 civil legal problem in the past year.

31% had 5+ problems in past year.

14% had 10+ problems in past year.

Common problem areas:

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Consumer Issues (43%)

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Health care (37%)

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Income maintenance (29%)

n = 593 senior households

Data source: 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey.

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Seeking and Receiving Legal Help

Sought legal help for 26% of substantial problems.

Did not receive any or enough legal help for 91% of substantial problems.

n = 222 substantial problems

Data source: 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey.

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Comparing Income Groups

At or below 125% of FPL (n=369):

  • 60% are confident they could find and afford a lawyer if they needed one to help resolve a serious civil legal problem.

Between 125% and 400% of FPL (n=481):

  • 72% are confident.

At or above 400% of FPL (n=128)*:

  • 87% are confident.

* Small base size

Data source: 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey.

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Reports from the Field

In 2021, LSC-funded organizations provided legal help to 138,000 seniors.

Data source: Preliminary analysis of LSC’s 2021 Grantee Activity Report (GAR) data.

Additional Information about Seniors

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Dennis & Priscilla

Iowa Legal Aid After moving to Iowa, a couple falls into debt and faces foreclosure.

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Ana: Essex County Senior Faces Eviction After Accidental Fire Damages Her Kitchen

Legal Services of New Jersey Ana, an Essex County senior, faced eviction after accidental fire damages her kitchen.

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Molly

Iowa Legal Aid Molly needed help with get the proper paperwork for her husband's long-term care.

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